Mark Shilansky

Assistant Professor

"My teaching style is pretty laid back, especially in ear training classes, because students tend to be stressed out having to sing in front of each other—most of them aren't singers. There's a lot of joking and keeping it informal, while still trying to impart as much information as possible. But the deadlines are still there, and if they don't want to play the way we're playing I have to get stern and mean."

"There's a lot of work involved in acquiring the skills to become a creative musician. You can have the creativity, but it comes out more easily if you do the work to acquire these tools. It doesn't have to be a drag to do that work, but even genius needs help. Even Lennon and McCartney went through lots of study. They learned every song that came on the radio; they knew hundreds of songs before they became the Beatles. We're not trying to inhibit anyone's creativity; we're just trying to give them the vocabulary to express themselves."

"There's a lot of cross-pollination where students and faculty play together. It's kind of fun to show up in a big band, and there's somebody you had back in Ear Training 2, and they're really good now. I've seen this a lot working with Heavy Rotation Records or Jazz Revelation Records, too. You have somebody that had a hard time in your ear training class, but now they're really good at music business, and they're working with you in that context. People mature so quickly in four years."

Career Highlights

  • B.A., University of New Hampshire
  • M.M., New England Conservatory of Music
  • Pianist, composer, producer, and vocalist
  • Performances with Jamie Baum, Jerry Bergonzi, the New York Voices Rebecca Parris, Luciana Souza, Syncopation, Lisa Thorson, Kenny Wheeler, and Patrice Williamson at such venues as Regattabar, Scullers, Ryles, the IAJE convention, Birdland, and the Blue Note Jazz Club
  • Recordings as leader include First Look (1997), Different Songs (2000), Other Voices (2003), and Join the Club (2007)
  • Recordings as pianist, composer, and/or producer include Patrice Williamson's Free to Dream; Allyssa Jones's 35, Robin McKelle's Never Let Me Go; Chris Humphrey's Nothin' but Blue Skies; Kate Schutt's No Love Lost; Syncopation's A New Dance, Of Blue, and Wonderful You; Lauren Wool's Here with Me; Michelle Mailhot's This Happy Madness; Sara Leib's It's Not the Moon; Jeremy Ragsdale's Jeremy; Kaye Kelly's Coming Undone; Scarlet Keys's Java Jam; David Thorne Scott's Shade and Dyad; Celia Slattery's Movin' On and Cast of Characters; Christina Watson's All About Love; Annie Sharkey's My Heart on My Sleeve; and Miller David Jamrog's Visions (feat. George Garzone)