As a Member

As a Sub

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.

Our auditions are low-key and done during our normal rehearsals. We’ll have you join in as a member of the band and play with us through the rehearsal. Ahead of time, we’ll give you music to look at so you’re not coming in blind. This way, you get to meet the band and experience how we do things, and we get to meet you and get a feel for how you’ll fit in with us.

A bit after your audition, we’ll contact you to let you know if we think you’re a good fit and want to offer you membership.

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?

We’ll send you sheet music for your part to look at. This will be the music we’ll be looking at during rehearsal, so getting familiar with it and being ready to play it is definitely in your best interest.

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.