Skip to main content
Return to campus fall 2020 and other COVID-19 updates   READ MORE »


Join Us

The Department of Music and Theatre Arts offers a wide variety of ensembles to meet the musical and artistic needs of all students at UW - Eau Claire. The large performance ensembles, including our jazz ensembles and combos, are open to all university students, regardless of major. The jazz ensembles at UWEC will push your creative boundaries, facilitate collaboration with experts in your field and connect you with students who share your creative passion.

Jazz band during VBall


Check back in January, 2021 for information on Spring 2021 Jazz Auditions!

The large jazz big bands and combos are open to all university students, regardless of major. The jazz ensembles at UWEC will push your creative boundaries, facilitate collaboration with experts in your field, connect you with students who love to play, and it is just a lot of FUN! There is a band for any commitment level.

Time Commitment

Jazz Ensemble I meets Tuesday and Thursday from 12:30-1:45pm, Friday from 1:00-1:50pm

Jazz Ensemble II meets Monday and Wednesday from 12:00-12:50pm

Jazz Ensemble III meets Monday and Wednesday from 1:00-1:50pm

Jazz Ensemble IV meets Monday and Wednesday from 11:00-11:50am 


Combos:  Meeting time is set by student members of the group and the instructor.

Our Faculty

Director of the UW-Eau Claire Jazz Department: Robert Baca     

Director of Jazz III: Dr. Jeffery Crowell    

Saxophone: Dr. Aaron Hedenstrom     

Guitar: Felipe Vargas Magdaleno     

Bass: Jeremy Boettcher     

Drums: Brian Claxton     


Auditioning For Combos

If you are interested in playing in a combo, please let us know at your audition. Your audition for large jazz ensembles will serve as your audition for combos, with the one exception being that everyone interested in a combo must improvise at their audition. A chorus or two of blues with a play along is perfectly acceptable for this, though I would encourage people to be more ambitious if possible. Combo placements will be competitive just as large ensemble placements are. Each group will meet at least one hour per week on their own, and have coachings with Aaron Hedenstrom, Christine Hitt or Jeremy Boettcher. Like any other ensemble at UWEC, attendance at rehearsals and coachings is mandatory. All groups will have opportunities to perform around town and at special events on and off campus

Audition Questions and Answers

Will the ensembles be different this fall because of COVID-19?

All ensembles will look different this fall because COVID-19. The music department has researched and is taking advice for safety from the top research experts in the country dealing with the topic of how an ensemble can safely rehearse during the COVID-19 pandemic. Time will be taken to explain these safety regulations clearly and they will be strictly adhered to ensuring your safety. The plan includes even stricter guidelines than the CDC requires. Some provisions include social distancing more than six feet, special equipment for our instruments to avoid the spread of arousal breath, special face masks, shortened rehearsals to allow air exchange and wiping down of the rehearsal room, special filters for room ventilation, non-sharing of instruments or any other equipment and a limited number of players in a room at one time to name a few. We will “Bloom Where We Are Planted”. In today’s music industry, it is an advantage for every musician to have a background in home recording and the making of video. Because we will have less concerts and will be streaming those we present, in addition to performing, our ensembles will study the practice of home recording and the making of videos.

What will UWEC jazz auditions look like this fall?

Because of COVID-19, Jazz auditions will be online as opposed to in person. Jazz auditions are very similar to any other audition. The student will prepare a solo repertoire piece and other given etudes along with the possibility of improvising during their video recorded audition. Fill out the Google audition sign up, where there will be a place to submit your recording and that is it. Good luck or shall we say, good skill!


What are the judges looking for?

Judges always look for sound and rhythm first! Having a good sound means having good tone, being in tune, and expressing dynamics well. They also look for good improvisation skills. You have worked hard on your audition preparation! Show them what you can do!

Do I need to be a music major or minor to play in a jazz ensemble?

UW-Eau Claire has a large jazz studies area with lot of ensembles specifically so students coming from every commitment level can play if they want to. So, if you had a ball playing in jazz ensemble in high school and have a been away from your instrument for a while, dust it off, bring the polish back out and join us. We have an ensemble for everyone!

What makes the UWEC jazz program unique?

The jazz program at UWEC is built on a positive environment that encourages the students to constantly strive for excellence, rehearsing together, participating in combos, or getting involved off campus and in the community. Furthermore, the jazz program focuses not only technique, but real-world applications that prepare students for every facet of life.

What does a week usually look like for a student in a jazz ensemble?

Those participating in a jazz ensemble or combo usually practices 1 or more hours a day and then has 2 full jazz ensemble rehearsals every week, each one 1-2 hours long. In this class, they not only rehearse, but they discuss philosophies, performing, and sometimes they bring in guest artists like Carl Allen or Doc Severinsen (virtually this year--of course)!