Teaching

Teaching Philosophy

My goal as a teacher is to help students realize their creative potential and to ultimately find their own voice. I work to understand the different types of learners and to offer opportunities that target their different styles. I am methodical in presenting structures and materials towards this goal, often conveying information within the context of History, Theory and Practice. Final performances and projects give the necessary incentive to review, act and evaluate.

I have been teaching since 1992 when I served on the faculty of the Third Street Music Settlement, the nation’s oldest community music school (in New York City).

We lived in Medellín Colombia between 1994 and 1997 (and again in ’06 – ’07) where I was able to offer jazz studies programs to students who hadn’t been exposed to a formal jazz curriculum and who had access to only a few printed resources. Between ’94 and ’97 I offered classes in jazz at a private music school (el Colegio de Musica de Medellin) and two universities (la Universidad de Antioquia and la Universidad de EAFIT). By the end of my stay I had eight jazz ensembles under my leadership, and was offering classes in jazz composition, jazz theory, jazz history and music appreciation. La EAFIT was in the process of creating a jazz concert series (including my quintet and Antonio Arnedo’s amazing quartet with Ben Monder) so together we turned it into the first annual Festival de Jazz de EAFIT and included these eight student ensembles. When I returned to Colombia in 2006 I served as a consultant and designed and implemented a four-year jazz studies curriculum that is now in use at La Universidad de EAFIT.

In 1997 we moved to Brattleboro, Vermont where the great guitarist, Attila Zoller asked me to run the Vermont Jazz Center. Thanks to the generosity of several angels and the wisdom of my wife Elsa, we were able to develop the jazz center into a year ‘round program and we moved into an ideal performance/teaching space. Our first task was to resurrect Zoller’s renowned Summer Jazz Workshop which we developed by introducing a jazz vocal program with Sheila Jordan. We had a very good year – and with hard work and good fortune these positive experiences have continued in our new space. I am happy to say that 14 years later, things are still going strong. I am the Educational Director at the Vermont Jazz Center. We have an expanded program now with half a dozen year ‘round instructors who are both good musicians and teachers. The summer faculty visits the jazz center from New York.

I find teaching compelling and really enjoy the time spent, especially one on one, with dedicated students. I have taught at UMass, Amherst and Greenfield Community College and now hold adjunct positions at Marlboro College and Amherst College. I also teach in the summers at Vermont’s Governor’s Institute on the Arts and Jazz Vermont.

Thank you to my teachers who have been so generous with me. I am especially grateful to Mike Longo, the first teacher who was able to assess my personal learning style and offer me materials in sync with my needs. But, the most significant musical mentor in my life is Howard Brofsky who has taught me that music goes beyond the notes and is a manifestation of beauty and energy. Our job as musicians is to stay in shape so that we can gather and transmit that energy and beautfy. I am also grateful to: Irwin Stahl, Marv Drucker, Doug Winters, John Nurmi, Dave Seiler, Paul Verrette, Rob Schneiderman, Stan Charkey, Jon Appleton, Sir Roland Hanna, Jimmy Heath, Donald Byrd, Ran Blake, Eddie Palmieri, Sol Berkowitz, Barry Harris and Kenny Barron. Thanks to all who I learn from daily, especially my students, my bandmates, my kids, Niko and Gaia, my wife, Elsa and my parents, Henry and Judy.

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