Ayn Inserto

Associate Professor

"The thing that's hard about college is that a lot is crammed into such a small amount of time. So what I encourage students to do is make [harmony] a part of their everyday music lives—not just knowing the math behind it or being mechanical about it, but knowing how it applies. Can you listen to a piece of music and hear what we've been doing without having to write anything down? How does this tie in? This is not meant to torture or inhibit you, rather it's meant to help make you grow. Everybody, including myself, is still learning. The idea of learning music—particularly at a college—is to take something that's been established for hundreds and hundreds of years and figure out how you can incorporate that but make it your own."

"In Harmony 1 there's a lot of vocabulary that they're trying to comprehend to move on to the next level. Sometimes it seems like you're trying to learn the basic bricks, but where's the music in it? But you can't write a story without knowing how to spell words. Music is difficult because it's supposed to be fun and emotional, but how can that be if you can't remember what note goes on this chord? Once you internalize it, it becomes a part of you, and you don't have to worry about it. It's like being able to speak a language."

"I grew up with '80s pop. I started out with classical music, and I love that stuff, but take me to a Madonna concert! There's a lot of really great music out there that's not jazz or classical. I love to see what my students are listening to. While most of them are contemporary-minded students listening to the pop music of today, there's a reason why they're here. They understand uniqueness in music, things that sound cool and sound different. I love it when they show me music that I didn't know existed."

Career Highlights

 

  • M.M., New England Conservatory
  • B.A., California State University
  • A.A., Los Medanos College
  • Pianist, composer, and arranger
  • Leader of the Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra
  • Member of the Jazz Composers' Alliance
  • Winner of a 2007 ASCAP/IAJE Commission
  • Performances with Bob Brookmeyer, George Garzone, Steve Lacy, Joe Lovano, and Frank Tiberi
  • Recordings include Clairvoyance by the Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra featuring George Garzone and Bob Brookmeyer
  • Winner of the 2003/04 and 2005/06 ASCAP Young Jazz Composers award, 1999 Best Original Composition, Billy Higgins Jazz Festival
  • Music has been performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, 1999 IAJE Convention, Reno Jazz Festival, Billy Higgins Jazz Festival, New England Conservatory, Berklee, Montreux Jazz Festival, the Umbria Jazz Festival, and McGill University