Join the Jazz Studies program at PSU School of Music and you will become a part of a dynamic and exciting music community. Located in Portland, PSU will provide you not only with performances on campus, but also throughout our vibrant city. As a Jazz Studies major or minor you will have the opportunity to perform with other talented musicians in a jazz ensemble, learn music theory and improvisation techniques, and receive an excellent foundation for your musical career. 

Find your voice with PSU Jazz

What makes PSU Jazz different? Located in the heart of Portland’s thriving music scene, our students get out of the classroom and onto the bandstand. You'll study improvisation, repertoire, and how to speak the jazz language as you discover YOUR unique voice as a performer.

We Offer


You’ll meet other students and faculty at Convocation, which happens on the first Monday of the fall quarter. It’s a fun way to kick off the school year, and will give you plenty of introductory information about your first steps as a Jazz Studies student.


You’ll sign up for applied lessons in your instrument right away. This one-on-one time with your instructor isn’t just about improving your technique, it’s also a great way to build a relationship with a faculty mentor. Jazz students at PSU often play in off-campus performances with their instructors, as well as seek them out for career advice.


Participation in a large jazz ensemble is required starting in your first year. You’re also highly encouraged to join a small group. “Skipping a small group is missing an essential piece of jazz. You’ll feel a part of the community, and it’s fun,” recommends Professor George Colligan.


Between concerts on campus and local gigs in Portland, you can perform as much as you want to. You’ll fit right in at PSU’s School of Music & Theater if you have an unconventional mindset, appreciate an eclectic range of music, and simply love to play.

The Salsa Band in performance

Jazz Ensembles

With several Jazz ensemble opportunities available to students, you can audition for the one that best fits your goals and style as a music major.

Jazz Faculty

George Colligan at the piano

George Colligan - Jazz Area Coordinator

George Colligan is not only one of the great jazz pianists of his generation, but he has earned an international reputation as a multi-instrumentalist, composer, accompanist, teacher, and bandleader. 

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Sherry Alves is the Instructor of Jazz Voice at Portland State University where she teaches applied jazz voice, improvisation, jazz pedagogy, jazz vocal ensembles and combos, and special topics in music history.

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Darrell Grant - Professor of Jazz Studies

Jazz pianist and composer Darrell Grant has performed in some of the best clubs in the country, but his most important gig is right here at Portland State, where he communicates the joy of jazz to the students in the heart of Oregon's cultural center.

Our Graduates

PSU Jazz alumni go on to professional careers, performing in New York and Los Angeles, touring nationally and internationally, and performing in movies and on television. Others are accepted into top jazz studies graduate programs, or put their creative skills to use in a variety of careers, such as becoming music teachers, arts administrators, arrangers, and composers. 

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Jimmie Herrod '16 - Master of Music: Jazz Studies

Singer and composer Jimmie Herrod began touring with Pink Martini in 2017. He has performed with PM across America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. His latest album Falling in Love and Learning to Love Myself was released in 2018.

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Nicole Glover '14 - Bachelor of Music: Jazz

New York-based saxophonist Nicole Glover first made her professional mark recording and performing with Grammy-award winning artist Esperanza Spalding, acclaimed multi-instrumentalist George Colligan, and renowned drummer/educator Alan Jones. 

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Matt Tabor '08 - Bachelor of Music: Performance

Since graduating Matt has made a name for himself in the jazz scene leading his own Matt Tabor Trio and playing as a sideman with a host of local and national acts including Jackie Ryan, Kamasi Washington, Devin Phillips, Chance Hayden, and Tony Starlight.