Brian Lewis

Professor
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"Ear training is all about becoming a literate musician—mastering the fundamentals, covering everything musicians might encounter in their career. Acquiring a good ear doesn't happen by turning a magic key. It happens through performing experience or a systematic progressive approach that slowly builds and reinforces musical concepts through performance-related and recognition activities."

"I like to compare my job to what a strength and conditioning coach does for a professional sports team. You try to condition the ears so that when people go out to pursue their particular specialty, they're in the best shape to be a good performer, writer, producer, or wherever their career takes them."

"Students can sometimes feel out of their comfort zone in an ear training class, because they don't have their instruments to rely upon; it's just them. A lot of times I ask a student to sing something back, and that can be an intimidating experience."

"I sometimes bring in former students from my ear training classes and ensembles to play with a rehearsal band I've created outside of school. It lets students see some of the other things I do as a composer, arranger, and trumpet player. It also allows me to see the things they do, because I don't often see them in that context."

"I think it's important to be honest with students—to let them know not just what they're strong at, but also what they're weak at. Not everybody's going to master everything, and when we don't have something completely mastered, we have to recognize that and learn how to work around those situations."

Career Highlights

  • B.M., State University of New York
  • M.M., University of Miami
  • Jazz ensemble compositions/ arrangements performed and recorded by many colleges and high schools nationally and internationally
  • Performances with the Mel Lewis Orchestra, David Clayton-Thomas, Donna Summer, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Phil Woods, Don Menza, the O'Jays, the Spinners, the Four Tops, the Temptations, Paul Anka, and others
  • Transcriptions published by Keyboard magazine