Jazz Studies | Capital University, Columbus Ohio


Jazz Studies

  • Jazz Studies
  • In this section..

    • Degrees:
      Bachelor of American Music – Jazz Studies emphasis 


      Capital’s Jazz Studies degree is one of the longest established jazz programs in the nation, having been first introduced in 1976. Since that time, the degree has produced countless outstanding musicians who have achieved success as performers, educators and in other areas of the music industry.


      Capital has made a major commitment to studies in contemporary music. You will study with dedicated, professional faculty in the discipline who are leaders in the field and well-known internationally, such as Lou Fischer, Rob Parton, Michael Cox, Stan Smith, Roger Hines, Ryan Hamilton and others. These faculty members are dedicated to building your performance skills and your academic growth. We believe in developing broad, applicable skills that will serve you for a lifetime.


      Our Jazz Studies degree interfaces with other parts of Capital’s contemporary studies curriculum, including studies in music industry, music technology, composition and music business, reflecting the integrated nature of today’s music scene. Capital’s program features large ensembles and small group jazz experiences, as well as special ensembles in other contemporary areas, allowing you to leverage your jazz skills along with music technology and composition. You will also be encouraged to participate in traditional and world music ensembles to balance your interests and prepare you for the myriad changes in music and styles as you go forward.


      Capital is located in Columbus, Ohio, a fast-growing metropolitan of over two million people, providing our students with immediate opportunities to interact with established professional musicians and to observe performers in clubs and concerts that are difficult to hear in smaller cities. And, it does not take long for our students to find themselves becoming active in Columbus’ vibrant professional music scene.


      As an undergraduate-only institution, you will be involved immediately in our groups…not requiring you to wait your turn and observe graduate students holding major chairs in ensembles. In addition, your hands-on experience at Capital serves those students interested in graduate programs with the background to be admitted to the nation’s top jazz studies graduate programs on a regular basis.


      Our graduates are successful in all areas of the music business – from performing with international acts to managing well-known artists in every genre’…from working in arts organizations to music production houses.


      We realize that your goals may change as you move through college. Therefore, you will find that at Capital the first year in music is a generic experience, allowing program changes to be made easily and without losing credits. Again, this is a unique element to our program.


      We encourage you to visit the campus, meet students and faculty, visit classes and become familiar with Columbus. Please feel free to contact US directly with questions that you or your parents have about our program, or reach out to our Conservatory admissions counselor, Summer Slusher, for audition information or to schedule a campus visit to meet our faculty, schedule a lesson, visit classes and to hear our groups. Summer’s email is sslusher@capital.edu. Program director Robert Breithaupt may be contact at rbreitha@capital.edu.  


      Conservatory Admission and Audition Requirements

      Admission into this program will require you to complete a two-part process to gain admittance to both Capital University and the Conservatory of Music.   


    • Robert Parton

      Assistant Professor Robert Parton, who splits his time between Columbus and Chicago, teaches trumpet, Jazz History and Jazz Combo, and he performs with the Capital Brass Quintet and the faculty jazz group, Spectrum. As a performer, he is one of Chicago's busiest and most well-known trumpet players and performs regularly at Chicago's Catch 35. As a studio musician, Parton has played on hundreds of local and national radio and TV commercials and local CD projects. He has performed with a long list of highly recognizable artists, from Doc Severinsen and Tony Bennett to the Beach Boys, Natalie Cole and Sheena Easton. As a theatre musician, Parton has played national tours and local productions that include Wicked, Music Man, Color Purple and many more. He is also the recipient of numerous accolades for his seven CDs on the Sea Breeze Jazz label. 

      Stan Smith

      Guitarist and composer Stan Smith is an assistant professor of Music in the Jazz Studies/Music Industry Program and head of the jazz/contemporary guitar curriculum. An accomplished performer, he is the guitarist for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and pit orchestras for Broadway Series productions. As a guitarist, he was a member of the Moacir Santos band in Los Angeles, and has accompanied various well-known artists. Smith not only has several recordings under his own name, but he is also featured as a guitarist, composer and co-producer on Madrugada's self-titled debut CD. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his compositions, which have been performed internationally and recorded by the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, Spectrum, The Afro Rican Ensemble and Nova Madrugada.

      Lou Fischer

      As a Yamaha performing artist, playing the Silent Bass exclusively, Dr. Lou Fischer has been actively performing since he was 12 years old. He has performed on more than 2,000 commercials and in more than 50 Broadway shows, including touring worldwide with The Crusaders, Airto, Charlie Byrd, Bill Watrous, Red Rodney, Rich Matteson, Tony Bennett, Andy Williams, Emmy Lou Harris, and the orchestras of Woody Herman, Louis Bellson, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Les Hopper, Tex Beneke, and Jimmy Dorsey, among many others. He has performed on more than 200 recordings and has four big band album releases under his own name as band leader. A music publisher for 30 years, Fischer now publishes his compositions with Walrus Music. 

      Fischer is professor of music, jazz activities coordinator and jazz ensemble director at Capital. He teaches American Pop/Jazz Theory and Jazz Arranging, and he directs the Fusion Band and the award-winning Big Band. He is one of the two co-founders and immediate past president/conference coordinator of the Jazz Education Network. 

    • Preparation for a Changing World

      A 2001 graduate, Michael Shirtz chose to study jazz at Capital’s Conservatory of Music for many reasons. Not the least of these was a chance to learn and work closely with jazz instrumentalists. That decision is still reaping its rewards for Shirtz, who is currently the department chair for Commercial Music and Reporting Arts at Terra State Community College in Findley, Ohio, as well as a composer, conductor, jazz singer and performer. 

      Today Shirtz is grateful that Capital prepared him for so many different things — not just the music and learning how to perform — but also for the business aspect. "They gave me the tools for many different facets of the industry, and prepared me so well for the workforce that I entered," he said. "It's an important skill to have in a field that is always changing."

      During his time at Capital, Shirtz enthusiastically participated in all aspects of the program, from the choir to various jazz bands and combos. He was also the student producer of the annual jazz festival. Today he offers this advice to students: "Go in with your eyes and ears wide open. Learn as much as you can. But most of all, find what drives you, and don't lose that drive."