Studio/Jazz Guitar

Bachelor of Music (BM) or Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Master of Music (MM) or Graduate Certificate (GCRT)
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

If you are planning to apply to the Artist Diploma program please follow the audition requirements on the Artist Diploma page.

Note: This information applies only to Studio/Jazz Guitar Department applicants. For Classical Guitar, please refer to the Classical Guitar requirements.

Applicants to programs in Studio/Jazz Guitar must submit an audition recording (in DVD format) to be pre-screened by the faculty. The results of this pre-screen will determine whether an applicant will be invited to perform a live audition on the USC campus in Los Angeles.

Note: Recordings will not be accepted via mail or email for this program. Recordings must be submitted online through the “Fall DecisionDesk portal” by the December 1st deadline. Any application not complete by December 1 may be removed from consideration.

To access the Fall portal to submit your recording click on the following link:

USC Thornton Fall Portal (Available Sept 1)

Please note: Current USC Thornton students applying for a graduate program are not required to submit a prescreen recording, however they must indicate on the application that they are a current Thornton student or they will not automatically be scheduled for a live audition. Current USC students are encouraged to contact Kit Bellamy in the Thornton Admission office with any questions or concerns regarding audition scheduling.

Pre-screen recording requirements

Both the pre-screen recording and the live audition may be performed on electric or acoustic guitar, or both if necessary. In the event of airline travel to the live audition, it is only necessary for you to bring an electric guitar. Knowledge of standard jazz literature (standard songs such as All The Things You Are or jazz classics such as Groovin’ High) is strongly recommended for this major. On the pre-screen recording applicants should include the following:

  • All applicants must include a one-minute verbal introduction in the pre-screening DVD, providing answers to the following questions.
    • What are your goals and aspirations in pursuing a career in music?
    • What do you expect to gain from and contribute to the Studio/Jazz Guitar Department?
  • The repertoire list submitted as part of the Thornton application should include only songs that you are capable of playing upon request from memory. You may be asked to perform any selection listed on the repertoire list at the live audition.
  • Undergraduate applicants (BM or BA): Three selections. At least one of those selections should be from the standard jazz repertoire and at least one of the selections should be a solo performance played in chord-melody style (harmonized in the solo guitar style of Joe Pass or George Van Eps).
  • Graduate applicants (MM, GCRT, and DMA): Twenty minutes of standard solo and/or ensemble pieces from the studio/jazz guitar literature (standard songs such as All The Things You Are or jazz classics such as Groovin’ High).

Live audition requirements

For the live audition, students should be prepared to do any or all of the following:

  • Solo performance of a standard song or a jazz classic played in chord-melody style ( harmonized in the solo guitar style of Joe Pass or George Van Eps).
  • Sight reading of a selection to be provided by a USC Thornton representative at the audition.
  • Duo performance of a standard song or a jazz classic (standard songs such as All The Things You Are or jazz classics such as Groovin’ High). Applicants should be prepared to play the melody in single-note style, play an improvised solo on the form, and then play rhythm accompaniment for the duo partner’s solo. One of the faculty members in attendance will serve as the duo partner at the live audition.
  • Optional: additional material that demonstrates any other specific areas of expertise and interest. This may include styles such as contemporary jazz, fusion, pop, rock, bluegrass, blues, etc., performed in a duo setting or with pre-recorded accompaniment.
  • The material submitted on the pre-screen recording.
  • Major and minor scales and modes covering the entire fingerboard (at the discretion of the faculty and time permitting).
  • Major and minor triads on four different string sets, seventh chord voicings and extended harmonies (at the discretion of the faculty and time permitting).

Important note

Undergraduate applications are not accepted for Spring admission to this program unless the applicant is already enrolled at USC. All applicants for Spring admission are also required to submit a recording for pre-screening. Spring applicants will be notified via email regarding their prescreen decision.