Bachelor Degree: University of California Santa Barbara; degree in Film Studies; played in jazz band
Nominated for Best Debut CD, 2014, Village Voice Poll
Commendation of Merit from City of Los Angeles, 1996
ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for Excellence in Writing about Music, 1996
I am a lifelong musician who also had a lengthy career as a music journalist specializing in jazz, writing for such publications as The Los Angeles Times, The Newark (New Jersey) Star-Ledger, and Down Beat Magazine. In my contacts with musicians for articles during this period, I tried to use each encounter as a partial lesson, and so accumulated some very important advice which I pass along to students. During the years I wrote (1980-2010), I never stopped practicing and I often performed with my own groups, both in Los Angeles and in the East, including performances in New York City. Currently living in the SF Bay Area, I perform regularly with top-call musicians.
I have been teaching saxophone and improvisation for seven years, since moving to the SF Bay Area. I have long wanted to teach, and deeply enjoy passing on the profound information I have received in lessons -- both formal and informal -- with such A-1 saxophonists as Lew Tabackin, Jim Snidero, Charles Orena and Victor Morosco. It is a deep joy to watch students absorb this information and to watch them grow as musicians, seeing how much they enjoy playing and learning. The world needs more musicians and I feel it is a substantial honor that I am able to help students grow in music.
I view each student as an individual and work with them in a way that bests suits them. If a student wants just to learn how to play the saxophone, then we start with basics, particularly how to get a good, full sound, and how to employ the fingers in a relaxed manner. I have found that a total beginner can play a few notes after the first lesson, and just gets better and better as time goes on. If a student is more advanced and wants to learn to improvise, then we pick a tune or performance that appeals to them and work with that, learn that song and solo, making sure, at the bottom line, that the player understands what is going on. Then we build from there; for instance, we learn phrases in all 12 keys, play with background tracks. Having fun is a key factor to the way I teach.
As I stated above, my teaching style is based around having the student enjoy what she or he is doing, because if a student is having enjoyment, then they will practice. And as any teacher will tell you, practicing is the key to improvement. I am a positive person and I stress optimism in my lessons. I am deeply supportive of students. I do not criticize; rather, I point out errors and ways to correct them. I am a warm, open person and so bring that warmth and openness to lessons, offering continual encouragement, expressing a desire to have the student enjoy what they are doing, to keep at it, and to have fun with their music. I continually stress how music can be a lifetime way to have happiness and joy.