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Bachelor of Arts and Sciences, University of North Texas, 2010
2005, Merit Scholarship, University of North Texas
2011, Member of jazz-funk ensemble named 3rd Best Instrumental Band in Austin by Austin Chronicle
2012, Wrote, Produced and Recorded Original Album of Spoken Word, Kelsey Erin Shipman
2013-2014, Regular Performer of jazz and pop gigs at venues throughout Austin area
My passion for teaching is nearly as old as my love of playing music, which began the moment I bought my first album: John Coltrane's Blue Train. Every morning for four years, I caught a 6 a.m. bus to a liberal arts high school on the opposite side of Austin. Coltrane kept me company, and he still does today. I went on to study jazz and classical music at the University of North Texas, graduating in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. I've performed in Austin, Dallas, New Orleans and beyond, playing jazz and popular music on saxophone and piano. I've also been teaching professionally since 2006. I've tried to preserve the sense of wonder I first felt on those bus rides, and I bring it with me to every lesson I teach.
Teaching is not just what I do, it's part of who I am. I gave my first lesson before I knew that's what I was doing: I was just a high school senior helping a handful of freshmen navigate their first classical and jazz repertoire, but even then, I knew I loved seeing that joyous breakthrough when a student plays something -- a musical passage, maybe just one note -- that sounds beautiful. I began teaching professionally during my second year at the University of North Texas, assisting middle school students take those first steps toward understanding their instrument. As I progressed as a saxophone and piano player, I taught high schoolers and adults in jazz improvisation and prepared classical repertoire, and continue to do so today.
It's a great pleasure to teach beginner students for over a year and help them develop those first fundamentals of music. I try to find a method book that suits their skill level and focus initially on learning simple songs suitable for performance, as well as some initial ear training and improvisation. Adults will find that I cater to their musical interests and do my best to make each lesson as fun as possible. I often like to play with my students, either on saxophone and piano, so they get the enjoyment -- and experience -- of playing in a group.
I've found that tailoring my instruction to the wants and needs of the student is incredibly important to ensure a lifelong appreciation for playing music. Not every student needs to play Beethoven. I focus on positive reinforcement and helping students become comfortable with their instrument, so that they enjoy playing and practicing every day. Questions are encouraged, and creative impulses are pursued wherever they lead. That way, we can play together and grow together!
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