RSU Begins Music Program with Jazz and Pep Bands

The new music program at Rogers State University will commence with a jazz band this spring and a pep band that will play at basketball games next year, said Joseph Cernuto, RSU music program coordinator.

“The music program will provide an opportunity for RSU students who are also musicians to hone their instrumental and performance skills in a university environment,” Cernuto said.

Auditions for the jazz band will be held in January and the ensemble will hold two performances during the spring semester, Cernuto said. The time and date of the auditions will be announced later this year.

The jazz band, which will consist of 15 to 22 members, will feature a brass section with four trumpets and four trombones, a saxophone section with alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, and a rhythm section with drums, guitar, bass guitar and piano, a collection of instruments that is typical of jazz bands, Cernuto said.

The jazz band will be considered an extracurricular program in the spring, but may be offered as a single credit hour class next fall, Cernuto said. Jazz band performances will be held in the Will Rogers Auditorium on the RSU campus in Claremore, and at area public schools and other community venues in northeast Oklahoma. Membership in the jazz band also will be opened to area high school students and community residents.

A limited number of music scholarships will be available next fall for students interested in participating in the RSU jazz and pep band programs. Auditions will take place in the late spring semester. 

A university pep band will be forming next fall, with auditions expected to take place in late August or early September, at the beginning of the fall semester. The pep band will consist of 20 to 50 members, who will play all the typical instruments of the indoor athletic pep band. The band will play at all home games of the new RSU men’s and women’s basketball program.

In the past few months, Cernuto has been visiting students in band programs at area high schools to generate interest in the new band programs at RSU. In addition, many current RSU students are interested in auditioning for the programs, he said.

“We’ve had quite a bit of interest from students at area high schools who have said they are interested in attending RSU now that we will be offering music programs,” he said.

This year, RSU offers several music classes, including fundamentals of music, music appreciation and history of music. The university plans to add more music classes in the future. A minor in music is under development and may be available in the next few years, Cernuto said.

A trumpet player, Cernuto previously served as director of bands at West Rowan High School in Mount Ulla, N.C. He also taught at high schools in Florida and served as a teaching assistant at the University of Florida, where he was on the staff of that institution’s 375-member marching band. He has experience as a music educator, band director, jazz musician and musical theatre musician. He received master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Florida in Gainesville.

In the next few years, RSU plans to establish a concert band to more fully develop the RSU music program, Cernuto said.

For more information on the RSU music program, including auditions for the upcoming jazz and pep bands, call Cernuto at (918) 343-7723.