Some of the world’s top musicians are taking part in a series of Blinn College District Music Department virtual master class sessions.
“Even though we are in a pandemic and in-person instruction is limited, there are still creative ways to deliver great content to our students,” said Todd Quinlan, Performing Arts Department head. “Using a platform like Zoom reduces the need for our guest instructors to travel and opens up possibilities that otherwise would not have been available.”
Jon Kratzer, Blinn trumpet professor and jazz band director, said the first master class with Rob Schaer, whose career includes performances alongside Paul Anka, Frankie Valli, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was very successful. The session was held shortly after fall classes began. Schaer also has performed on the soundtracks of several movies, including “Moana” and “Star Wars,” and on popular video games like League of Legends.
“The students were engaged the entire time, and it was really satisfying to see their eyes light up as Rob talked about his experiences,” Kratzer said. “There were many great questions answered during his presentation.”
Quinlan and Dr. Sarah Burke, Director of Bands and Director of Percussion Studies, have work experience or personal friendships with percussion master class guests Aaron Nix, drummer for the Broadway tour of “Cats;” Aziz-Barnard Luce, principal percussionist for the Hong Kong Philharmonic; Keith Carrick, principal percussionist for the Utah Symphony Orchestra; and Tomas Burritt, professor of percussion at the University of Texas.
“Each of these instructors provides high-caliber professional experience and also a uniqueness to their careers,” Quinlan said. “Our students benefit greatly from getting to interact with musicians with their experience.”
The trumpet master class instructors also bring diverse experiences in the field of music.
“I wanted to bring in these stellar musicians from as many different career paths as I could to help my young musicians see there is no singular path in music that they must choose,” Kratzer said. “Many musicians used to have the attitude that in order to have a successful career, you have to specialize in a narrow skill set.
“This is not something I encourage in my students. I personally believe that versatility is paramount in the success of modern musicians. There are increasingly fewer jobs in orchestras these days. By encouraging my students to be curious and humble enough to learn a wide variety of musical disciplines, it is my hope that they will have a more profound appreciation and understanding of the musical opportunities available to them in our field.”
Other guest instructors include Kiku Collins, who has performed with singers Beyonce, Michael Bolton, and Gloria Gaynor; Nicole Gillotti, a trumpet professor at Texas A&M University-International; Trent Austin, a renowned international soloist and owner of Austin Custom Brass; Chris Larios, a musician in the U.S. Marine Band; Ryan Beach, principal trumpet in the Alabama Symphony; and Michael Anderson, professor of trumpet at Oklahoma City University.
“If I can bring hope and motivation to my students, then I feel I will have done my duty,” Kratzer said.
The Blinn College District Music Department offers small classes, one-on-one attention, practical learning, and easily accessible faculty so that students are actively engaged in a superior learning environment. For more information, visit www.blinn.edu/music.