Jazz Studies

Welcome to UTA's Jazz Studies program. The program offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in jazz performance, and a graduate degree in jazz composition.


With course requirements in jazz improvisation, jazz arranging and composition, jazz theory, music business, jazz ensembles (big bands and small groups), styles and perspectives, and pedagogy, students leave the jazz studies program with a focused jazz education, prepared for the future.

uta jazz student playing the saxophone

Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies

The Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies degree is a robust music degree combined with significant coursework in jazz studies. The Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies is designed to prepare students for professional work in the ever-growing jazz and commercial music areas or for successful audition into graduate school.

jazz ensemble playing at an event

Masters of Music in Jazz Performance

The Masters of Music in Jazz Performance is offered on all jazz instruments and offers advanced training in jazz performance. Students earning the Masters of Music in Jazz Performance are equipped to teach at the community college level and some universities and are prepared for successful audition into the increasing number of doctoral programs in jazz studies.

jazz ensemble performing on stage

Masters of Music in Jazz Composition

UT Arlington also offers the Masters of Music in Jazz Composition. Students develop mastery in writing for various ensembles, both large and small. Flexibility within the degree allows students to focus in traditional big band, small group writing, studio orchestra, or more modern genre-blending compositional techniques. UT Arlington’s jazz and classical ensembles provide for opportunities to hear your work. Through an informal partnership with the American Jazz Composers Orchestra, one of Dallas Fort Worth’s premiere big bands, there is opportunity for professional performances of your work. As with the MM in Jazz Performance, students earning the MM in Jazz Composition are credentialed to teach at community colleges and some universities

Applicants are required to submit the following in addition to the normal Master of Music admission requirements:

  1. A portfolio of works, to include at least two (2) but not more than four (4) scores and recordings representing the applicant’s best work. At least two of these should be in the jazz genre. Live recordings are preferred; MIDI recordings are discouraged but will be accepted as a last resort. At least one of the works should be scored for a large jazz ensemble (ten or more performers). Links to both scores and audio files housed online for the included pieces (via SoundCloud, DropBox, etc.) should be sent in an email to the graduate advisor. Please do not attach the files in the email.
  2. A performance audition is also required on your primary jazz instrument. Applicants should prepare two jazz pieces in contrasting styles and tempos, with at least one jazz standard included. A pianist will be available to accompany you, or you may arrange for your own accompaniment (such as a play-along recording). Stereo equipment may be provided but only upon advance notice by the applicant.


Timothy Ishii, M.M. University of North Texas

Department of Music

Professor, Jazz Studies Area Coordinator

Area: Jazz Studies, Saxophone

Timothy Ishii

Email: tishii@uta.edu

Phone #: 817-272-1205

Office: FA 367-H

Bio: Tim Ishii has been Director of Jazz Studies at UT Arlington since 2004. Under his direction, the Jazz Orchestra has performed in Mexico City, Germany, Hawaii, Kansas, throughout Texas and the surrounding Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. In 2007 the Jazz Orchestra was selected to perform at the Texas Music Educators Conference in San Antonio, Texas and in 2009 the band was awarded the “Gene Hall” award as the Outstanding Collegiate Band at the University of North Texas/City of Addison Jazz Festival which included bands selected by taped audition from coast to coast. Tim is active as a clinician and has conducted numerous high school and college honor bands in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Oregon. In December 2014, he appeared as guest artist with the Iolani High School Jazz Band (Honolulu, Hawaii) in Kobe, Japan performing at the Konan Boys High School Winter Jazz Festival and Konan Women’s University. He is Past President of the Texas Jazz Educators Association and is Co-Music Director for the Hawaii Jazz Institute, a joint collaboration between the University of Texas at Arlington and the Iolani School in Honolulu, Hawaii. As part of the 2015 Hawaii Jazz Institute, the UT Arlington Jazz Orchestra performed aboard the USS Missouri battleship that is now docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In addition, Tim and the UT Arlington Jazz Faculty performed and provided educational enrichment at the 2015 Maui Jazz Festival. In May of 2016, Tim was invited to give big band clinics in Detmold, Germany at the Hochschule Fur Musik and also presented a master class to area saxophonists at the Haus Die Musik in Detmold. In October of 2016, Tim along with fellow UTA Jazz Faculty and students traveled to Stockholm, Sweden to finalize arrangements for a Study Abroad Exchange program with the Royal College of Music. The group also was invited to participate in the 2016 International Jazz Education Festival hosted by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. In June of 2016, Tim, the UT Arlington Jazz Faculty, and Jazz Orchestra returned to Hawaii to work with students from the Honolulu area in the Hawaii Jazz Institute. Since 2016, the UT Arlington Jazz Area has continued outreach efforts in Hawaii, Sweden, Germany, and China. The UT Arlington Jazz Program is proud to sponsor the Eddie Gomez Trio in Residence each fall and spring semester. Tim maintains an active freelance and clinician schedule. Tim is an Artist/Clinician for Conn-Selmer and D’addario.

Pete Clagett, M.M. University of North Texas

Department of Music


Area: Jazz Studies, Trumpet

Pete Clagett

Email: peter.clagett@uta.edu

Office: FA 367A

Bio: As a trumpet player, he has performed, toured, and recorded with a wide variety of jazz musicians and pop artists. He was a member of Bob Belden's acclaimed experimental jazz group, Animation, which recorded and performed throughout the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. Following a groundbreaking tour to Iran in 2015, the group garnered press in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and the Boston Herald. In the DFW area, he is a sought after soloist and recording musician and maintains a busy career as a freelance performer. He has held trumpet clinics throughout DFW, performed at International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE,) the Jazz Education Network (JEN,) and also teaches privately in his studio. Mr. Clagett holds degrees from the University of Miami (Coral Gables) (B.M.) in studio music and jazz and the University of North Texas (M.M.) in jazz studies.

Ryan Haines, M.A. Webster University

Department of Music

Lecturer, Jazz, Trombone

Area: Jazz

Ryan Haines

Email: ryan.haines@uta.edu

Office: FA 367-A

Bio: Ryan Haines is a trombonist, composer, clinician, and brass teacher based in Dallas, Texas. He was an Adjunct Instructor for Jazz Trombone at the University of North Texas from 2017-2018, taught Jazz Trombone at Arizona State University from 2011-2015, and was the interim Director of Jazz Studies at Northern Arizona University from 2011-2012. Ryan was the lead trombonist, Musical Director, Producer, and Chief Arranger for the Falconaires Jazz Ensemble based at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado. He has composed and arranged music for 9 Air Force recordings and videos by premier ensembles including the Falconaires and the Airmen of Note. Ryan has performed as a featured artist at international music conferences, jazz festivals, and before audiences throughout the United States. Ryan has composed and arranged an extensive list of published music for jazz ensemble, brass ensemble, and trombone and tuba/euphonium ensembles; available through EJazzLines.com and Potenza Music publishing. A Sea Breeze Jazz recording artist, Ryan composed an 8-movement suite for big band entitled “The Sky Blue Suite” for his 2001 debut recording “To the Sky” and his follow-up recordings “New Horizons” and “People and Places” received critical acclaim internationally. Jazz industry reviewers use phrases such as: “world-class”, “stellar”, “amazing” and “as good as it gets” to describe his trombone playing and writing style.

Brian Mulholland, M.M. University of North Texas

Department of Music


Area: Jazz and Music Industry Studies, Bass

Brian Mulholland

Bio: Brian Mulholland is an adjunct instructor of jazz bass and music business at the University of Texas at Arlington. Since 2007, he has served UTA variously – from lecturing in jazz history and music appreciation to directing instrumental and vocal jazz combos. As a bassist, he toured with the late jazz artist Maynard Ferguson. During his tenure with the band, Mr. Mulholland's debut album, Deco (2005), was featured in the Maynard Ferguson Presents Series. His recorded performance highlights include Ferguson's Grammy®-nominated* studio album,The One and Only (2007), and the Maynard Ferguson Tribute memorial concert DVD (2007). He has held bass clinics in the U.S. and Canada, judged for jazz ensemble festivals, and performed at International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) and International Society of Bassists (ISB) conferences. During his final year at the University of North Texas (UNT), he taught electric bass lessons as a graduate teaching assistant of jazz bass. Mr. Mulholland holds degrees from the University of South Carolina (B.M., magna cum laude) and the University of North Texas (M.M.) in jazz studies. * 2007, Best Instrumental Arrangement: “Besame Mucho,” arranged by Steve Wiest. GRAMMY is a registered trademark of The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Inc.

Tom Burchill, M.M. Jazz Education, University of North Texas

Department of Music

Adjunct Professor

Area: Music Industry Studies, Jazz and Commercial Guitar

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Bio: Tom lives in Fort Worth, Texas and he is originally from Brookings, South Dakota. His website address is: tomburchill.com. Tom Burchill is a professional guitarist, teacher and award-winning jazz band director, gifted arranger and composer in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. An active freelance guitarist, he performs frequently throughout the metroplex and has impacted many lives through his teaching and his music. Tom teaches private guitar at the University of Texas at Arlington. Tom held the position of jazz band director at Weatherford College for 13 years. He is a highly sought-after clinician and private instructor and teaches at jazz education camps each summer. During his tenure as a jazz educator he has had the privilege of performing with a variety of jazz artists including Clark Terry, Peanuts Hucko, Joey Defrancesco, Randy Brecker, Peter Erskione, Marcel Ivory, David Fathead Newman, James Clay, Marvin Stamm, John Fedchock, Bill Watrous and Phil Woods among others. An excellent, motivational teacher, Tom is proud of the students he has had the privilege to teach. Altogether, his former students have won more than 20 Grammy awards and have gone on to play with such artists as Snarky Puppy, Count Basie Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis, The Lincoln Center Band, Leon Bridges, Little Big Town, Tori Kelly, Miranda Lambert, Kirk Franklin, Toby Keith, Erika Badu, Prince, Snoop Dogg, Frank Foster, Mumford and Sons, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and Sheryl Crow. Tom has performed with a number of revered artists and was honored to accompany the late, great Luciano Pavarotti in February of 2002 at his performance at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. He plays regularly with the Fort Worth Symphony where he has performed with artists such as Willie Nelson, Bernadette Peters, Michael Feinstein, Monica Mancini, and Art Garfunkel. Tom is also a member of the local group, Brasuka which plays original Brazilian jazz in a style reminiscent of Sergio Mendez. Their first project of all original compositions is to be released in the fall of 2021. They performed at the JEN conference in Dallas (2018), the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival (2019), and play frequently at The Kitchen in Dallas as well as other venues around the Dallas and Fort Worth area. Burchill earned a Bachelor’s degree in Guitar Performance from the University of South Dakota and a Master’s degree in Jazz Education at the University of North Texas where he was a part of the jazz bands, jazz small groups, guitar ensembles and jazz singers.

Peter Rioux, St. Francis Xavier University and the University of North Texas

Department of Music

Adjunct Professor

Area: Jazz Piano

Peter Rioux

Email: peter.rioux@uta.edu

Office: FA 367

Bio: From Canada’s east coast, Peter Rioux’s traditional piano style is heavily rooted in the blues idiom. As a teenager, Rioux developed an interest in improvisational music which he expanded through jazz studies at St. Francis Xavier University and the University of North Texas. Throughout his career, Rioux has had the pleasure of touring with blues legend, Lazy Lester, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, D.J. Fontana. Rioux’s career is also comprised of multiple cross Canada tours and performances at some of the country’s top music festivals. In recent years he has maintained a busy schedule performing around the DFW metroplex as a leader and a sideman. Under the leadership of saxophonist Shelley Carrol, he has opened for Ravi Coltrane and has performed in tribute shows in honor of Don Wilkerson and Arnett Cobb. Rioux has coordinated Bud Powell tributes shows and is dedicated to paying respect to jazz tradition through teaching and performing.

Christian Valdes, M.M. in Jazz Performance, University of Texas at Arlington

Department of Music

Adjunct Professor

Area: Jazz Piano

Christian Valdes

Email: christian.valdes@uta.edu

Office: FA 367

Bio: Christian “Baby” Valdés is a talented pianist from Cali, Colombia. He comes from a family of renowned Salsa musicians, which led him to be a very successful and active musician in the Latin Scene in America. by the age of 16 he was already performing and touring with numerous Salsa artists mainly from Colombia, Cuba and Puerto Rico, among this list, Andy Montañez, Ismael Miranda, Tito Nieves, Guayacan, Luisito Carrion, Willie Gonzalez, Rey Ruiz, and many more. At the age of 19 Christian became part of the renowned band “Grupo Niche”, when on tour, in one of his visits to Dallas, he auditioned for the Jazz Piano program in the University of North Texas, which amazed by his talent, offered him a scholarship to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Jazz Studies. Christian moved to Texas in 2011 and since then, he has had the privilege of studying with different mentors and very well-known professionals such as Stefan Karlsson, Michael Palma and Sergio Pamies. He has performed with different artists such as Diego “El Cigala”, Arturo Sandoval, Nestor Torres, Luis Conte, Karen Briggs, Brad Leali, Lynn Seaton, Rich DeRosa, among many others. Christian has also been awarded several Downbeat awards in the category of best Latin Jazz Group with his own Sextet, and best soloist with some of his own compositions. Currently, Christian is part of the Jazz Studies Faculty at the University of Texas at Arlington and remains being an active pianist, arranger and composer in the Dallas/Fort Worth scene.