Philosophy of Education


Growing up in a family of New York City school teachers, I recall many conversations that took place about education between my parents and their teacher friends. These conversations didn’t interest me much because like most kids I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about school in general. Pedagogical discussions over dinner didn’t turn me on to say the least.

Lo and behold fifty years later, teaching is a major component of my professional life as a jazz artist. Little did I know when Jamey Aebersold, of whom I knew nothing at the time, called me in the late 1970s to teach at a clinic in the dead of the winter in Hays, Kansas, that education would play such a major role in my life. Of course I teach in a very specialized area and an art form to boot. My students, be it at clinics, the Manhattan School of Music where I presently teach graduate courses, the International Association of Schools of Jazz Meetings, or my annual Saxophone Master Class are hardly beginners and are by and large highly motivated as well as more mature than their contemporaries in their early to mid twenties. However the principles of what constitutes good pedagogy are universal, no matter the subject or group. This article is a collation of my thoughts on the subject, first about education overall and then to the specifics of jazz.