Jazz Performance

Kickstart your musical career.

Learn from the best  Career opportunities  Why choose us? ​​​ How to apply

A row of male and female musicians playing brass instruments

Join us

Our accomplished and innovative instructors will help you to hone your skills, develop your knowledge in theory then apply it to your chosen specialisation. You will the opportunity to refine your skills in both small and large ensemble workshops. Over the course of your degree you will:

  • Build a practical knowledge of harmony which you will apply on your instrument every day.
  • Develop deeper rhythmic skills and learn to focus on grooves from a wide variety of musical genres.
  • Perform regularly with your fellow students in formal and informal concerts.
  • Work with leading ensemble directors in small and large ensembles learning essential listening, responding and critical thinking and problem solving skills.
  • Discover the context in which jazz was developed and continues to develop.
  • Have the opportunity to hear and workshop with national and international jazz artists.

What you'll study

Bachelor of Music (Jazz Performance)

Students receive individual tuition and attend masterclasses within their specialisation. You can study jazz on almost any instrument, but our main areas are:

Learn from the best

Learn from industry-leading musicians and artists.

  • Mark Simeon Ferguson

    Mark Ferguson

    Composer/arranger/pianist/musical director Mark Simeon Ferguson was a finalist in the National Jazz Awards in 1999 and in 2022 ABC Jazz released his seventh album, the ABC Jazz Commission Where Emus Roam the Streets. He has written arrangements for the Australian String Quartet and composes and arranges regularly for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra including the orchestration of Pudnanthi Padninthi (their Kaurna Acknowledgement of Country), and the children’s show The Bush Concert, which has been performed by the SSO, the MYO, and was translated into Mandarin and performed in Harbin, China by the ASO.

    He led tours for Musica Viva across Australia and Singapore for 13 years; composed two song cycles for the SA Public Primary Schools Music Festival; and co-wrote the songs for the 2023 Adelaide Fringe Science Award winning show You are a Doughnut.

    He has been Musical Director/arranger/pianist for world premieres of nine Adelaide Cabaret Festival shows.

  • Brenton Foster

    Brenton Foster

    Bachelor of Music (Hons - first class), Elder Conservatorium, 2009. Lecturer in Jazz Piano.

    Brenton Foster is an award-winning pianist, composer and vocalist. He was awarded Best Jazz Album at the 2017 Music Victoria Awards and was the PBS FM Young Elder of Jazz for 2018. He has released multiple albums under his own name, and with The Shaolin Afronauts and piano trio, Refraction. Brenton has featured at The Melbourne International Jazz Festival, Adelaide Festival, Stonnington Jazz Festival and Womadelaide.

  • Lazaro Numa

    Lazaro Numa

    Born in Havana Cuba, Lazaro Numa has over 20 years international experience performing Latin jazz, classical and pop. He left Cuba in 2008 to expand his international music career. In 2016 he performed with Grammy-winning artist Diego El Cigala at WOMADelaide and toured with pop star David to packed stadiums across China. Later that year Lazaro composed and recorded his debut album “Mi Cuba” in Havana featuring Manuel “Guajiro“ Mirabal, a founding member of the Buena Vista Social Club.

    Lazaro has performed with the Afro-Cuban All-Stars, the Bar Buena Vista Show, the Havana Meets Kingston Project and in 2022 he joined The Cat Empire. 

  • Alex Taylor

    Alex Taylor

    BMus (Hons - first class), Elder Conservatorium, 2013; Grad. Dip. Ed University of Adelaide, 2016; Current postgraduate candidate.

    Lecturer in trombone, brass masterclass, Jazz Musicianship 1A/1B

    Alex is a trombonist, sousaphonist, composer/arranger and educator based in Adelaide. In 2017, Alex was a semi-finalist in the Australian National Jazz Awards at the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues, and in 2019 released his debut album Sleep Faster through Wizard Tone Records. Alex has been a part of the teaching faculty in the jazz department at the Elder Conservatorium of Music since 2013, where he lectures in jazz trombone, brass, and improvisation. Alex is a member of various Adelaide bands including The Shaolin Afronauts, Atlantic Street Band, Soul-Centric, Thomas Voss Big Band, as well as leading his own creative projects. Performance highlights include playing with The Cat Empire, Midnight Oil, and the 2021 Australian National Jazz Orchestra.

  • Luke White

    Luke White

    Bachelor of Music (First class HONS), Elder Conservatorium, 2016; Masters of Teaching, University of Adelaide, 2018. Lecturer in jazz trumpet.

    Luke White is an Adelaide born musician who graduated with first class honours from the Elder Conservatorium of Music in 2016, specialising in Jazz Performance. He later went on to complete a Masters of Teaching from the University of Adelaide, graduating in 2018.

    Luke has performed regularly at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, most notably with Hugh Sheridan’s award winning show California Crooners Club. He has appeared on tours both nationally and internationally and has performed with jazz musicians such as Will Vinson and James Morrison. In 2021, Luke was selected to play within the backing band for the Adelaide contestant at the Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival. As a freelance musician based in Adelaide, Luke plays with several local Big Bands and Small Ensembles in addition to having worked with the State Opera of South Australia.

    As an educator, Luke has over 10 years’ experience as a trumpet teacher and band director across numerous schools within Adelaide, including St Peter’s College, Walford Anglican School for Girls, Westminster School and Immanuel College, amongst others.

  • James Muller

    James Muller

    Lecturer in Jazz Guitar, Jazz Musicianship 2A/2B, 3, small ensembles, co-ordinator Jazz Performance

    Australian guitarist James Muller is one of the most exciting and innovative musicians on the Australian music scene today.  James has performed with Herbie Hancock, John Scofield, Vinnie Colaiuta, Bill Stewart and Maria Schneider and was part of James Morrison’s and Vince Jones’s bands for many years.

    Amongst his many accolades he was winner of the National Jazz Award at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival in 2000, he was awarded the Freedman Fellowship in 2004, he was winner of the ARIA for Best Jazz Album 2000 for his - James Muller Trio album “ALL OUT”, he is a dual Mo Award winner (National entertainment industry award) for Best Jazz Instrumentalist and Best Jazz Group 2001, his tune “PAUL BLEY” taken from “THRUM” was winner of the APRA award for Most Performed Jazz Work 2003 and he was the subject of a full length interview in esteemed US magazine “Guitar Player” in April 2008.

  • Ben Finnis

    Ben Finnis

    Bachelor of Music (First class HONS), Elder Conservatorium, 2021. Lecturer in jazz guitar, jazz guitar masterclass.

    Ben Finnis is a guitarist, composer, educator and bandleader from Adelaide, South Australia. He started performing and working professionally at the age of 14 and honed his skills throughout high school and university. As well as being one of Adelaide’s in-demand guitarists, he has toured interstate many times with a range of different acts. Ben has won numerous awards including The Helpmann Academy Award for Top Guitar Undergraduate in 2018, Best Overall Undergraduate in 2019 and most recently The Top Honours Award, supported by the Lang Foundation all at the Elder Conservatorium where he completed his Bachelor of Music (Honours) in 2021.

  • Dave Innocente

    Dave Innocente

    Bachelor of Music, Elder Conservatorium, 1997. Lecturer in jazz guitar.

    David has been playing professionally for 27 years across jazz, funk, blues, pop and rock genres. He has toured with musicals such as FAME, DUSTY and was guitarist for THE MAIN EVENT with John Farnham, Olivia Newton John and Anthony Warlow. He has recorded with Paul White, Ben Todd and his own ensemble DIRT.

  • Dr Lyndon Gray

    Dr Lyndon Gray

    Dr Lyndon Gray is an Adelaide bassist and composer who is currently a lecturer in the Elder Conservatorium Jazz course. Lyndon has performed with many elite Australian jazz musicians including Paul Grabowsky, James Muller and Julien Wilson, and leads many groups of his own. His reputation as bandleader led to him curating the “A Night Of Jazz” concert at Her Majesty’s Theatre in 2021, a concert broadcast by ABC radio that featured many international jazz artists.

    In 2018 Lyndon completed his PhD which explored South Indian rhythmic devices and their integration into jazz. He has had a varied career as a double bass and electric bass player and performed as a featured guest with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, in musical theatre (including “Matilda” in 2017) and won two ARIA awards as a member of the folk/alternative country group The Audreys.

  • Dr Julian Ferraretto

    Dr Julian Ferraretto

    Multi-style violinist and composer, Dr Julian Ferraretto moved to London in 2002 and has since become known for his virtuosic and melodically charged improvisational style. He has performed with many of the UK’s most important contemporary jazz and world music bands including the Neil Cowley Trio, Natacha Atlas and Eska. 
    Now based in Australia, Julian continues to collaborate internationally as composer, session artist and animateur delivering creative music workshops and directing the Adelaide Connection jazz choir. He has composed a series of suites for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, tours internationally with Australian icon, John Schumann and runs the Pocket String Quartet.

  • Dustan Cox

    Dustan Cox

    Dusty Cox holds a Master of Music in Classical Saxophone Performance from the University of Northern Colorado (USA).  He was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1994 and was also awarded five Downbeat Student Music Awards while completing his masters degree.  

    Before coming to Adelaide, Dusty was the Jazz Saxophone Lecturer at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa where he taught and performed with Professor Darius Brubeck.  

    He has taught a variety of classes and ensembles at the Elder Con including improvisation, theory, small ensembles, sax ensembles, big band, saxophone masterclass and more.  

  • Derek Pascoe

    Derek Pascoe

    Master of Music, Elder Conservatorium, 2010. Lecturer in jazz saxophone.

    Derek Pascoe has been playing saxophone professionally for almost 50 years including regular TV, radio broadcasts and studio recordings across a range of genres. At the age of 17 he was a member of pop group Flintlock, who produced 5 albums and were featured weekly on UK national television including Top of the Pops and Tomorrow’s People. Pascoe has played at many of London’s Jazz venues including Ronnie Scott’s, Bass Clef and the Jazz Cafe. He has toured extensively throughout Europe and Japan.

    In 1998 Pascoe moved to Australia from London. He completed a Master of Music at the Elder Conservatorium Adelaide in 2010, exploring performance and spontaneous improvisation techniques. Since 2000, he has lectured in Jazz theory and Improvisation across the Jazz, Classical and Contemporary disciplines at the Elder Conservatorium.

  • John McDermott

    John McDermott

    Bachelor of Music (HONS), Elder Conservatorium, 1997; Master of Philosophy, University of Adelaide, 2015. Lecturer in jazz drums, drum masterclass.

    John graduated in 1997 from the University of Adelaide with a scholarship funded Honours Degree in Jazz Performance. In the same year, he was runner-up in the “Best Up & Coming Drummer” competition at Melbourne’s Ultimate Drummer’s Weekend and also one of 10 finalists in the Wangaratta Jazz Festival’s national jazz awards.

    In 2013, John received a grant for a study trip to Rio de Janeiro and in 2015, completed a Masters Degree in Performance researching the contemporary application of Brazilian rhythms.

    John has performed and toured with many notable artists such as James Morrison, Peter Cupples, Jon English, Jenny Morris, Rick Price, Kate Ceberano, Marina Prior, Todd McKenney and Tom Burlinson. He currently works mostly as a freelance musician and occasionally performs as a casual member of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed for a number of touring musicals including Fame!, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Priscilla, Mamma Mia, Billy Elliot, Chess, 9 to 5 and Hairspray.

  • Stephen Neville

    Stephen Neville

    Bachelor of Music (HONS), Elder Conservatorium, 2011. Master of Philosophy, University of Adelaide, 2015. Lecturer in jazz drums, drum masterclass.

    Stephen began playing drums in rural NSW. Since moving to Adelaide in 2008 he has established himself as an active member of the South Australian jazz community and has toured nationally and internationally with various artists. He commenced teaching at the Elder Conservatorium in 2012 and is yet to give reasonable grounds for his dismissal.

  • Lauren Henderson

    Lauren Henderson

    Lauren Henderson is an award-winning vocalist, composer, actor, educator and mother of two beautiful children. She is the Head of Jazz Voice at the Elder Conservatorium, The University of Adelaide and is passionate about helping people unlock their creativity, potential and pursue their passions. 

    She has worked with Internationally acclaimed artists such as Moonchild, Jazzmeia Horn, Joe Chindamo, Anna Butterss, Matthew Sheens, James Muller, Gian Slater, Michelle Nicolle, Anita Wardell, Anna Goldsworthy, Robyn Archer and The Lost and Found Orchestra (creators of STOMP!). 

    Lauren holds an acting degree with honours from Flinders Drama Centre and her accolades include: Winner of the National Jazz Awards - voice (2020), Freedman Jazz Fellowship Nominee (2016), Top twenty semi-finalist in the Thelonius Monk Competition for jazz voice (2015), Helpmann Academy Vocal Jazz Award (2013), Downbeat Student Music Award (2013). Lauren is also a certified Estill Master Trainer. 

  • Catherine "Kit" Withers

    Catherine "Kit" Withers

    Catherine has been working as a vocal specialist for over 20 years. She is passionate about voice and helping people achieve their vocal goals by developing solid vocal technique, repertoire, performance skills and maintaining optimum vocal health.

    Catherine holds a Bachelor of Music in Jazz performance and a Graduate Diploma in Education. She has studied and taught the Estill Vocal Model extensively and is a qualified Estill Master Trainer with Service Distinction, co-hosting on courses nationally and internationally. 

    ​She has performed in musical outfits Nationally and internationally from disco funk to 9-piece Latin bands to pop/rock, jazz and vocal jazz ensembles. She currently performs as a vocalist, actor, Musical Director, composer, pianist. 

    She has taught extensively at tertiary institutions, high schools and her private studio as a specialist in singing, spoken word and remedial voice.

    Currently Catherine is Head of Voice lecturing at AC ARTS TAFESA in the Music and Acting Department (spoken and sung voice) where she is also Musical Director and composer. 

    She has been teaching as a Vocal Lecturer at the Elder Conservatorium in the Music Theatre Degree since 2021 and is thrilled to have joined the Jazz Department in 2023.

Listen to our Bachelor of Music (Honours) graduate and Able Seaman, Andrew Crago, talk about his role as lead alto saxaphonist in the Royal Australian Navy Big Band.

He shares his love of jazz music and the opportunities his career path has provided to express his creativity.

Why choose us?

The University of Adelaide is right in the heart of a beautiful city with a lively music scene across multiple genres. Our students also have the opportunity to engage with Adelaide's world-class festivals:

We also have a wonderful relationship with the Helpmann Academy who support us with masterclasses by leading artists, and co-host our annual Helpmann Academy Jazz Awards night where our highest achieving students are not only recognised, but have the chance to workshop and perform with internationally acclaimed artists.

How to apply

Audition registrations are now open for Semester 2, 2024 entry.

Register for your audition/interview

Submit your audition/interview application

Pay audition/interview fee

When registering, you must pay a non-refundable audition/interview registration fee via the online shop to be guaranteed an audition (search 'audition').

Bachelor of Music applicants

There is an audition registration fee of $26 for the first audition and $21 per subsequent audition.

Pay audition/interview registration fee

Apply to SATAC or International Admissions

Domestic students

You will need to lodge an application through the South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre (SATAC).

Visit the SATAC website

International students

You will need to lodge an application through our International Admissions Service. You do not need to register for an audition.

International applications

Current UofA students

You will need to lodge an internal transfer application.

Apply for an internal transfer

Prepare for your audition/interview

Please ensure you have followed the audition requirements for your specialisation:

Audition requirements by program

The Conservatorium does not provide accompanists except for the Bachelor of Music Theatre auditions. All other auditions that require an accompanist should contact the Accompanists' Guild of SA.

Applicants should contact accompanists as early as possible as auditions cannot be rescheduled to accommodate accompanist availability.

On the day of your audition, please ensure you arrive 15 minutes prior to your audition or interview. You will receive notification of your audition outcome following your audition.

We look forward to meeting you!