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Master of Arts, Music Education/Certification, Hunter College, Began August 2009 Bachelor of Arts, Popular Music and Jazz, Eastman School of Music
Poems published in Rochester’s Messenger Magazine, Fall 2004 through Spring 2008
Dean’s List, Spring 2006, Fall 2006, Spring 2007, Fall 2007
First Prize Winner of the Alpha Delta Phi Burning Ember Literary Competition in the essay category,
March 2006, and short story category, April 2007
Selected to speak at the River Campus Music Department Commencement Ceremony, May 18, 2008
Jamie S. is a teacher, guitarist, singer/songwriter, saxophonist, and composing pianist. His teaching career began at the age of fourteen, as a volunteer in the Songcatchers, Inc. program, teaching saxophone and piano to underprivileged children in New Rochelle, NY. He went on to study music at the University of Rochester/Eastman School of Music. In 2007 he did an eight-month internship at Island Def Jam/Universal Music Group whilst living in Harlem, after which he completed an independent study on the modern music industry, and was awarded the first ever Bachelor of Arts Degree in Popular Music and Jazz from Rochester/Eastman. Simultaneously, Jamie single-handedly designed, produced, and taught the General Music Program for K-10 at Cornerstone Academy in Brockport, NY. In the last twelve years, Jamie has built a formidable studio of private students of all ages on guitars, saxophones, piano/keyboard, bass, voice, composition/songwriting, and music theory. Congruently, he has produced and hosted annual student recitals, given pre-conservatory consulting, helping to place students at Belmont, Berklee, SUNY Purchase, MIT, etc., led three pre-school music programs, and served as Jewish Music Specialist and Shabbat Program Coordinator for the 92Y camps summers 2012, 2013, and 2014, and for the UWS JCC Camps summers 2015 and 2016. Throughout his teaching career, Jamie has also participated in many performance and recording projects both as band leader of The Rift, a guest, and a solo artist. During the school year 2016 - 2017 he was a Show Director for the School of Rock - Mamaroneck. Most recently he designed, produced, and taught residencies, culminating concerts, and family workshops for LEAP NYC as a Teaching Artist. He hopes to deepen his impact with music by exploring an education in music therapy and starting a not for profit that provides a 24/7/365 safe-space for young artists, thespians, and musicians in the future.
As stated in my bio my teaching experience especially given my age is extremely extensive. I started teaching saxophone at the age of 14 as a volunteer in the Songcatchers program in New Rochelle, a service that provided free private lessons to children who couldn't afford them. That progressed to teaching privately and in small groups as an upperclassman in high school for my band teacher and for extra money on the side. I parlayed that into a full time business by my last semester of college during which I took on an abundance of private students in Rochester, NY and single handedly implemented the Cornerstone Academy's music program in Brockport, NY. When I returned to the tri-state area in August 2008 in the midst of the recession, I thought it would be in both my best interest, as well as the most effective way of strongly supporting and teaching a variety of budding musicians, to continue to expand and build my studio of private students. So I did. I also engaged with a Masters program at Hunter which I enjoyed and definitely improved my skills as a teacher in the Fall of 2009. Ultimately, I did not stay in that program because I was already teaching so much in a so many different settings. In short, I wanted to put all of my energy and focus into actual teaching rather than the formality of a Master's or state certification. I've held a variety of teaching positions since then that have enriched my abilities and experience as a teacher both privately and in the classroom. This includes being the Jewish Music Specialist and song leader for four different camps over the years, show directing at School of Rock, and single-handedly implementing the music program for Heketi Charter School in 2017-2018. Last but certainly not least, the transition to online formatting due to the COVID-19 pandemic has forced me to explore new pedagogies and business models alike. So suffice it to say my teaching experience is 20 years running and quite diverse.
My approach to music lessons is to customize and graft them to the student. I approach all of my private lessons as music lessons, not just guitar, saxophone, theory, composition, or piano lessons. Throughout my career, I have consistently found value in being a well-rounded, knowledgeable musician, strong in a variety of skills, instruments, and genres. This is not to say that I do not strive for mastery, and encourage my students to do the same. Simply, it is important to set clear goals, and understand all aspects of what one aspires to achieve. So, I always make a strong effort to cater to the needs, interests, and goals of my students, whilst building their general knowledge of the musical arts. On the same token, I am not a ‘book teacher’. In my experience and opinion, books are merely tools to be used to increase the greater spectrum of one’s musical prowess. Most students learn the most by doing/playing. In my students’ notebooks, I always create a well-defined practice routine for every lesson, consisting of three to six items.
I believe every mind and thus every student is different. So especially when teaching something inherently creative like music, I almost always have to be inventive with my pedagogy. Every student has their own interests, learning style, and goals, and as an educator, listening to and really HEARING those is just step 1. Step 2, 3, etc. is to "creatively" construct a curriculum that fits that student; creativity is a requirement. To use specific example to highlight my teaching style, I worked with a boy named Adam from the time he was 9 through about 13. He was on the autism spectrum but also suffered from a variety of processing impairments. He would socialize with me more than other autistic students I'd worked with, which definitely facilitated instruction, but to get the most out of that, I had to stay on subject matter that sparked not just his interest but his joy, on a constantly rotating basis. To be even more specific, once, I had to transcribe and teach him the iCarly TV show theme song, seconds after we'd been working on a basic major scale. This type of jumping around is pretty routine even with students without special needs, so maintain a flexible but focused teaching style. It's a bit of a tightrope, but a walkable one. Adam, as many students are, was eager to show me his progress with scales first thing every week but as soon as the scale began to irk or ceased to interest him, we had to move off of it right away onto something that was joyful, so he stayed focused. Of course as a private instructor I have to make sure to steer towards something instructional value in these situations. This can be tricky, so even if something doesn't immediately present instructional value, I can extrapolate correlations, patterns, etc. that give a basic pop song or TV theme more instructional value. In terms of Adam, I realized after about a year working with him that the best lesson plan was more of an outline than a traditional lesson plan. I had to create "wiggle room" for following his joy whilst remaining instructionally relevant. Other students require more structure, have different musical passions, etc. so I follow that accordingly and when required draft precise, singular goal oriented lesson plans. Humbly though, I would say that Adam taught me to improvise on an a higher level than I'd ever been asked to or thought possible, which for a jazz musician is really saying something. I will always be grateful to him for that, and what I learned about flexible but effective pedagogy from him is indelible.
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