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NWS is looking for talented musicians for the 2019-2020 season!

We've got openings in the following chairs:

  • Alto Sax 2

One of the best ways to support us is through your participation as a musician! If this sounds like something you want to do, we want to hear from you! Simply email us at with your name, contact info, and your background (e.g. your training, experience, current ensemble participation). We’ll get back to you in a few days to schedule an audition.

Our Audition Process

Do you itch for that big-band sound?  Have you played before but not for a while?  Would you like to learn for the first time?  GREAT, we want to meet you!

Northwest Swing strives to be the best we can be, while keeping things light and fun. Unfortunately, that means auditions are a necessary part of our selection process.

The format of our auditions starts with playing through some excerpts that demonstrate abilities we’re looking for. followed by improvising to a simple blues progression (we’ll provide a rhythm section behind you). Next, we’ll ask you to play a few sight-reading excerpts that we’ve picked out for you. Finally, we’ll chat with you for a while to get to know you and to give you an opportunity to get to know us. You’ll meet the music director and a few of the musicians.

After the audition, you’ll hear back from us within a week or two with the results.

What caliber musician are you looking for?

This is always a difficult question to answer. In general, we’re looking for musicians with a history of jazz band experience, preferably in big bands. The music we play varies in difficulty from fairly easy to very difficult, so we tend to want musicians who have taken private lessons, especially in jazz, and who are comfortable in the many styles of jazz (e.g. Swing, Latin, Bebop). Because of the difficulty, and because we often times are in a crunch for rehearsal time, we’re also looking for people who can work on the material outside of rehearsal.

For instrumentalists, we like to see ability to improvise. This implies knowledge of jazz chord structures and progressions and how to construct a melody over them. We don’t necessarily consider it a requirement to be able to (and if you’re not comfortable at all with it, you may opt out), but being able to do so may give you a competitive edge.

As you’ll be playing in a big band, it’s also important that you be able to read music, as all of our music is printed.

For sax players, being able to double is important. We look for ability on at least clarinet — being able to play flute as well will put you ahead.

What music should I prepare?

For instrumental auditions, we have selected a few excerpts to prepare for each instrument, consisting primarily of melody or solo passages that represent the kind of music we play. We’ve also included music for blues improvisation appropriate for your instrument.

For vocal auditions, we request that you prepare 3 excepts of your choosing totaling about 3-5 minutes in length. Be prepared to talk about your range and style of singing to give us an idea of the kinds of music that would most fit your abilities.

What is your standard instrumentation?

NWS is a traditional jazz big band consisting of the standard 5-4-4-4 membership:  

  • 5 saxophones (2 altos, 2 tenors, and a bari),

  • 4-5 trumpets,

  • 4 trombones (including 1 bass trombone),

  • 4 rhythm (bass, piano, drums, guitar)

  • Vocalists (many)


When and where do you rehearse?

We rehearse Saturday mornings from 9am to 11am in South Seattle, at the Boeing South Park facility cafeteria.

What if I have other questions?

Feel free to contact us at with any questions you have! We’ll be happy to answer them as quickly as we can.