Tech jazz program celebrates 100 years of history

Photo courtesy of Chip Crotts

Jazz music is not only deeply rooted in the history of Atlanta, but in the history of Tech. Exactly 100 years ago, campus hosted one of the earliest radio music broadcasts in history when Tech’s  band performed jazz music that was then transmitted through wireless telephone to a party being held at  Capital City Club.

One hundred years later, the presence of jazz music within Tech’s atmosphere has become no less significant. 

To gain insight into the modern-day jazz program offered on campus, the Technique sat down with jazz band director and professional performer Dr. Chip Crotts. 

Crotts began by emphasizing what makes jazz so interesting to study and how it differs from other musical genres.

“Jazz, unlike classical music, allows for a lot more individuality within the art form,”  Crotts said. “That’s probably one of the things that really drew me into jazz music. 

“Jazz is the foundation for all of the music we listen to from country to pop to rap and hip hop,” Crotts continued. “The creativity and individuality of jazz is really what drives me.”

Crotts further  explained the significance of the traits that jazz drives — like creativity and individuality — in a technologically-focused environment like Tech’s.

“With such a great academic program that is very technically driven like the one here at Tech, it is special to have what we do in the jazz and music area, because it allows for a different kind of thinking,” Crotts explained. 

“There is a creative, outside-of-the-box mindset that comes with learning about music that I think helps complete the students here at Tech and allows them to be more well-rounded.”

Crotts emphasized learning how to work in a team setting as one such example of the well-rounded attributes that can be gained from participating in a music program.  

“The students in the music program and the jazz program are the ones that can handle things without specific instructions and know how to work in a team. They learn to practice and play a valuable part in a greater team,” Crotts explained. 

“I want students to gain something that helps them in the real world beyond just a musical scenario, something tangible they can take with them when they graduate.”

Crotts noted that students who play an instrument not only learn lessons that can be applied elsewhere, but can even be made healthier as well — both mentally and physically. 

“Music allows for a release and a chance to get away from the stress of being a student at a  prestigious school like Georgia Tech. There are a lot of students who like that sort of outlet and even need that outlet. 

“We can see this within our community, from open-mic nights at Under The Couch to a more structured musical outlet like what we have with our program,” said Crotts.

In order to take advantage of all the jazz program offers, all students have the chance to audition for the band at the beginning of every semester. 

“There are a lot of opportunities and we really try to place anyone we can. We have a wide variety of skill levels and experience within our program,” said Crotts.

The goal of  the jazz program is to put on high quality concerts that will allow for both the audience and the students to share in a unique experience. 

“We want to practice and improve so that we can put on the best performance we possibly can,” said Crotts. 

“During a concert we typically play a wide variety of music to keep the audience entertained. After every show, everyone walks away with a different favorite piece from swing dancing to a more rock-driven piece.”

The jazz program has several on-campus concerts coming up this semester.  A schedule of upcoming performances can be found at