Be part of an award-winning jazz tradition with some of the nation’s best undergraduate jazz ensembles.

With three large jazz ensembles and small group opportunities, grow and master essential skills in jazz and improvisation, and build your confidence as a jazz performer, soloist, educator, or composer.

Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble

Director Patty Darling
Audition required

Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble

As one of America’s finest collegiate jazz groups, the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble (LUJE) has earned the Outstanding Performance award in Downbeat magazine’s annual Student Music Awards for the past four consecutive years. LUJE members have repeatedly been cited for the Best Original Composition/Extended Composition Award, Best Jazz Arrangement Award, and Outstanding Jazz Instrumental Solo Performance Award.

With LUJE, perform and record frequently throughout the school year. Explore and present cutting edge large ensemble literature, historically significant works, Lawrence student and faculty compositions and arrangements, and accompanying visiting jazz solo artists. 

The Lawrence University Jazz Band at the Conservatory

Perform at an advanced level, giving great attention to detail and interpretation of a wide variety of musical styles from the historical to contemporary and those that feature interesting improvisational techniques.

During rehearsals, sight-read an extensive amount of music and analyze recorded concert performances and rehearsals using Lawrence’s state of the art recording facility. Explore new avenues of improvisation, including free improvisation, solo features, and open rhythm section grooves. As you grow, you’ll also be encouraged to take leadership opportunities, such as conducting LUJB or acting as a section leader.


Jazz Workshop

Director José L. Encarnación
One concert each term

Members of Lawrence University's Jazz Workshop perform on stage.

Jazz Workshop helps you build the foundation for becoming a confident jazz performer and soloist or educator. You’ll learn to master two essential skills in jazz and improvisation: sight-reading at a high level and using aural skills in performance. You’ll also learn basic jazz repertoire, how to perform basic jazz styles, how to understand and interpret chord symbols, progressions, and basic jazz forms. You’ll regularly interact and play with jazz faculty and an array of guest soloists.

Concert performances offer you the opportunity to be featured as a soloist and to perform pieces studied during term, from early jazz to new compositions by jazz masters and performing groups.

Improvisation & More

Delve deeper into improvisation with the Improvisation Group of Lawrence University (IGLU). Explore styles spanning rock, 20th century classical, Arabic Taqasim, klezmer, jazz, electronic, Korean Sinawi music, and more. IGLU is part of our rich array of genre-transcending ensembles. 

Four students with various instruments, such as saxophone and trumpet, sit in a row in a large room.

Jazz small groups are jazz performance classrooms where you’ll engage in a meaningful exploration of jazz improvisation in groups of 5 to 8. Through applied performance practice and intensive guided listening and analysis, you will study and perform in classic jazz styles and build upon the jazz tradition of innovation by creating transcriptions, arrangements, and compositions of your own.

Groups are coached by a faculty member once a week and have at least one un-coached weekly rehearsal. Guest performers and clinicians work with groups during their visits. You’ll perform in recitals, present a set at Jazz Weekend, and take part in weekly jam sessions on campus. You are also encouraged to rehearse and perform on and off-campus. Play repertoire drawn from a collection of jazz standards selected by jazz faculty, classic and contemporary compositions, and original student works.

Guest jazz quartet perform on stage in Memorial Chapel.

Jazz Celebration Weekend


One of the highlights of the year, Jazz Weekend brings a who's who of jazz artists to Lawrence for a jazz education festival. Learn from, listen to, and play alongside the greats.

The Lawrence Jazz Ensemble performs on the stage of Memorial Chapel.

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Downbeat Awards in a Row

Lawrence musicians have been consistently recognized by the prestigious Downbeat Awards.

A musical life awaits. Take the next steps by applying and auditioning.

The best way to find out if Lawrence is the university for you is by visiting.

Check out campus without leaving your couch.