About the Program

The Jazz Studies Program at WMU has gained international recognition for its innovative approach to jazz education.  The program attracts undergraduate and graduate students from throughout the United States and worldwide. Graduates of the program are among today’s leaders in jazz and pop performance, Broadway, recording studio production, writing, arranging, singing, and music education. 

DownBeat Awards

DownBeat Awards have been won by WMU students in the categories of Big Band, Vocal Jazz Choir, Instrumental and Vocal Soloists, Instrumental and Vocal Jazz Combos, Studio Orchestra, Live and Studio Engineering, Arranging and Composition. WMU has amassed over 150 awards since 1984, ranking it among the top three collegiate award winners in the nation since that time.

Guest artists and residencies

The Jazz Studies program enjoys a constant flow of guest artists for concerts, classes, and residencies, often several a month. Recent guest artists include Billy Hart, Rich Perry, Carl Allen, Säje, George Garzone, Deborah Brown, Vince Mendoza, Billy Drewes, Miguel Zenon, Dave Binney, Terrell Stafford, MOSS, Fred Hersch, Stefon Harris, Bobby McFerrin, Joe Lovano, Tom Harrell, Bob Mintzer, Kenny Garrett, Randy Brecker, Jamey Haddad,  Slide Hampton, Kenny Werner, Lyle Mays, John Clayton, Gene Bertoncini, Rufus Reid, John Abercrombie, Eliane Elias, The Manhattan Transfer, Take Six, New York Voices, Kurt Elling, Curtis Stigers, Esperanza Spalding, Luciana Souza and many more.

Recording studio

Western Sound Studios is both a commercial recording studio and a teaching facility in the School of Music at Western Michigan University. The studio is equipped with state of the art gear including world class microphones (Neumann, Royer, DPA, etc.), microphone preamplifiers (Avalon, Cranesong, John Hardy, True Systems), compressors (Cranesong, API, Manley), and much more. The studio is also home to a RADAR hard disc recorder, a Pro Tools HD3 Accel work station, and a Digidesign 003 remote recording rig.  The studio records many of the School of Music’s ensembles both in live performances and studio recordings for release on CD.  Students at Western Sound Studios have won numerous prestigious awards from Downbeat magazine, the Audio Engineering Society, and others.