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Our Philosophy

Jazz Studies at The University of Toronto is a close-knit community of creative spirit located in the heart of Canada’s largest and most diverse urban centre. It combines the benefits of a small, focused music program offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in jazz with the opportunies inherent in attending a top-ranked and multi-faceted university. 

At the core of the program is a philosophy of honoring the jazz tradition while incorporating current trends in modern jazz performance and composition. U of T Jazz students form lifelong bonds with like-minded peers while interacting closely with a faculty comprised of accomplished professional jazz musicians.

Our Philosophy

U of T Jazz Acknowledgement of

Black American Music

The foundation and tradition of jazz music was created by Black American musicians who endured the brutality of systemic racial discrimination and white supremacy.  Despite the social barriers and persecution that these musicians faced, the result of their artistry was the creation of this most influential of American art forms, an innovative musical genre rooted in the blues, improvisation, and Afro American culture.  U of T Jazz acknowledges the debt owed to these artists, recognizing that systemic racism continues, and commits to anti-racism in our curriculum and our community.

U of T Jazz Statement on

Anti-Racism, Diversity and Inclusivity

The University of Toronto is committed to equity, human rights and respect for diversity.  All members of our community should strive to create a culture of mutual respect whereby everyone can express themselves, engage with each other, and respect one another’s differences. U of T does not condone discrimination or harassment against any persons and pledges to work towards equity, diversity and inclusion within our community.

Photo by Lisa Sakulensky

Why should you choose to study Jazz at the University of Toronto?

U of T Jazz students provide the most compelling reason to want to join the ranks. As a group they are highly talented and motivated. They challenge and encourage each other to pursue unique artistic identities.

The U of T Jazz faculty is fully comprised of working professional jazz musicians who bring a wealth of real-world experience to the table. In your time at U of T Jazz you'll have the opportunity to work with and learn from many of the top jazz musicians in Toronto and visiting guest artists.

The University of Toronto is located in the heart of a vibrant, culturally rich Canadian city. Shops and restaurants are at your doorstep and there are numerous places to hear jazz and other types of music performed live, almost every day of the year.

U of T Jazz is a small program within a large faculty of music within a highly respected and top ranked university. You get the best of all worlds--a close knit community with your jazz peers, friendships and collaborations with music students in other disciplines, and access to a vast pool of knowledge and resources within the university at large. 

U of T Jazz students perform with school ensembles numerous times throughout the year, on and off campus, including weekly performances by U of T Jazz ensembles at the world-renowned REX Jazz Bar. In addition, students regularly play gigs with their own groups outside of school. Any day of the week, you're likely to find U of T Jazz students performing somewhere in town. 

NOTE: As you would expect, Covid 19 has put a damper on live performances. Everyone hopes to be back to normal as soon as possible. For this year, live streams may replace live perfor

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Canadian jazz legend Professor Emeritus Phil Nimmons has passed away at age 100

UofT Jazz and the Faculty of Music community send our condolences to the family and friends of Canadian jazz legend Professor Emeritus Phil Nimmons, who has passed away at age 100. His pioneering contributions to Canadian jazz have left an indelible mark on the genre, shaping its trajectory and inspiring countless musicians. As an esteemed educator, his influence extended beyond the stage, nurturing and guiding generations of music students who continue to carry forth his legacy. His impact will be felt for years to come within the Canadian jazz community and beyond.

Words from Jim Lewis:

"Phil will be sorely missed by so many. Students of music across the country have been affected and influenced by Phil’s wisdom and expertise for so many years. Phil was leading the Jazz program at U of T far before there was a Jazz program, and influencing jazz students across the country at the same time. 40 years later he was still teaching Jazz Composition to U of T 4th year students. His far-reaching influence over the Canadian Jazz community is still evident today, and will be for generations moving forward. His students are among the very best of Canadian Jazz performers and educators this country has produced. Then, after teaching them, Phil played and taught alongside many of them! Thanks Phil, for your deep caring and insightful take on jazz performance, composition, and thanks for constantly reminding us about the flat 10!"


Words from Chase Sanborn:

"When Phil asked how you were and you replied “Fine”, his response was “Are you sure?”. Ever one to probe and nudge, Phil Nimmons was a beloved educator who found worth and inspiration in every student. Fiercely devoted to musical integrity, respectful and erudite, Phil was an exemplar of how one should live their life. He challenged all of us who studied or worked with him to be the best we can be. In his 100th year we say goodbye to our elder statesman, but Professor Nimmons’ lessons will stand as beacons of light for generations to come."

Thank you for everything, Phil.


UofT Jazz may be right for you if...

  • You are passionate about music, jazz in particular, but not necessarily exclusively.

  • You are eager to learn and willing to work hard to achieve your goals.

  • You want training that is based on real-world experience and a clear-eyed view of the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

  • You are independent, yet also a team player.

  • You want to be among people who challenge and support each other.

  • You have interests aside from music and appreciate being among others who do as well.

  • You want to live in a city where multiculturalism is celebrated and a part of everyday life.

Why UofT Jazz?
100 Years

Photo Courtesy of Faculty of Music

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