"Teaching is a way for me to pass on the information I’ve gotten over time. To function as a jazz composer at any level, you’ve got to be willing to produce your stuff, even if it’s just a demo of what it’s supposed to sound like. As a producer you facilitate everyone else’s ability to fulfill their roles. You have to acquire listening and analytical skills and understand underlying systems of harmony, form, and development. You need be able to communicate both abstract concepts and concrete ideas; to conceptualize what’s going to be on a stage before even thinking about writing for what’s going to be on that stage. You have to learn how to organize sounds, instruments, time (in the musical sense and otherwise), groups of people, and schedules. It takes attention to detail. And—because this is jazz after all—it takes flexibility. You have to plan for improvisation."
Artistic Director of Mediterranean Music Institute
Seven-time Latin Grammy Award winner
Graduate of the Madrid Royal Conservatory
Composition and production credits include major albums by renowned artists such as Paco de Lucía, Bebo Valdes, El Cigala, Enrique Morente, Wynton Marsalis, and the acclaimed Spanish singer Concha Buika
Vice President for Curriculum and Program Innovation, Academic Affairs
"My teaching style has always been one that encourages self-reflection and discovery. I like to push my students to be self-motivated. For me, it isn't about the grades they will receive, but rather the knowledge and skill set they can build on. Assignments always have the capacity to be completed to the level the student is capable of, and by witnessing other students' work, they can see different approaches to the same task. I'm never expecting to see students complete their assignments in exactly the same way as their peers."
"The listening aspect of music is probably the most important part. Ear training is all about comprehending what you are listening to and knowing how to analyze it. The goal is to be able to look at a piece of music and know what it sounds like without having to listen to it; or conversely, to listen to a piece of music and be able to notate it."
"Whether it's in private piano lessons, labs, or keyboard classes, I want my students to come away with a solid technical foundation. Good technique is important, not just for fluency but also to avoid getting hurt. Good technique, by definition, is efficient motion. It comes not just from the fingers, but also the shoulders and all the way down to the feet. The old Russian saying, 'You play the piano from your feet,' is really true. It would be absurd to believe you can lift a 60-pound suitcase with just your fingers. It's equally absurd to think you play piano with just your fingers."
"I'm teaching two unusual classes. One is called Musical Independence, which is basically a class for singers to develop some piano self-accompanying skills and to think about putting a song together. Then I have a liberal arts class called Sound, Body, and Performance. It's a very comprehensive class, looking at a holistic approach to performing. We do a lot of hand drumming, movement, meditating, and breathing. It fulfills a science requirement, so there's a lot of reading."
"Choral Rehearsal Techniques is a really fun class. I structure it like a lab. I give students scores that they would use in a typical middle or high school choir, and they prepare them to teach. They learn the parts, the text, the conducting; they plan the most effective and efficient way to teach them. Then they actually teach and conduct the work, over a series of weeks. They get up in front of their classmates and teach them as if they were teaching a middle or high school class. They need to think a little differently, to imagine that they are not working with their professional peers, but rather with developing musicians. For example, they need to think: 'How would I approach this particular piece with middle schoolers, who have some reading skills, but maybe not extensive reading skills?'"
"I teach lessons for the Voice Department where I focus on vocal technique, assuring that students are singing in a healthy manner. The students are aware of my philosophy for warm ups: the more relaxed and flexible your vocal mechanisms are inwardly, the better your voice will produce outwardly. If you maintain your voice, keeping it warmed up using proper technique, your voice will be one of great longevity. I tell the students to treat their voices just as an athlete would treat their bodies before a game or a race. You wouldn't just wake up one day and say, 'I want to run a 26-mile marathon!' You have to properly prepare for it."
"Having worked in the music industry as long as I have, I don't want to necessarily just bring war stories. You've got to back it up with some good science and theory. One of the challenges is with new media. The tools are new. So I try to balance those with some real time-tested marketing strategies. You begin to realize that it's all sort of been done before, but now we have an opportunity to recontextualize things. I do try to find a balance of things, but the music business is changing every second."