Welcome to the Furman Jazz Studies website! We are proud to offer a wide variety of jazz courses and performing ensembles. All of our courses and ensembles are open to all Furman students regardless of major.


Matt Olson, Director of Jazz Studies
Steve Watson, jazz guitar and jazz combos
Keith Davis, piano
Ian Bracchitta, jazz bass
Justin Watt, drumset


The Furman Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Matt Olson, performs traditional and contemporary big band literature, entertaining groups with concerts on campus and throughout the Southeast. The Jazz Ensemble also plays a number of school outreach concerts each year. We are excited to release our first CD during the 2014-15 school year.

Furman’s jazz program includes 3-4 smaller jazz combos, which focus on small-group jazz performance and the art of jazz improvisation.

Courses Offered

  • Fundamentals of Jazz Improvisation (Music 350) is an entry-level jazz improvisation course. Students study the basic melodic and harmonic shapes that are used by all jazz musicians, and also engage in a transcription project as part of the course. The only prerequisite for this class is an understanding of basic music theory and an interest in learning to improvise. This course is a highly recommended elective for all music education majors.
  • Applied Jazz Improvisation (Music 351) is a private-lesson based follow-up to Music 350.
  • Introduction to Jazz (Music 102) is a course that examines the history of jazz, focusing on the stylistic elements of the music, its master musicians, and important recordings. This course also satisfies the Visual and Performing Arts (VP) general education requirement.
  • Jazz composition and arranging independent studies are available for interested students.
  • Private instruction in jazz guitar, jazz piano, bass, and drumset

Recent Guest Artists

Joel Frahm, Byron Stripling, Chris Vadala, John Riley, Michael Mossman, Mike Kocour, Joel Spencer, Rick Simerly, Vern Sielert, and Tim Coffman

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