January 14, 2008
Surrounded by the vibrant music culture that is New Orleans, the Newcomb Department of Music at Tulane brings professionals such as singer Leah Chase and jazz pianist Jesse McBride on campus to teach.
The music department offers approximately 200 hours of private instruction each semester.
Barbara Jazwinski, chair of the music department, says that as the applied music program has grown in popularity the department has hired more local and internationally known musicians as tutors.
“It is a sophisticated program that has been around for more than 20 years and is a means of making up for having a relatively small full-time faculty,” says Jazwinski. “Each semester we have approximately 20 applied music tutors available, but that number varies depending on what the students request.”
Students may register for the tutoring sessions at the start of the semester as they register for their other courses. The applied music courses allow students to meet individually with instructors for one hour each week and earn two academic credits.
While the tutoring sessions are intense, accomplished instructors such as Chase, a renowned jazz vocalist, and McBride, an up-and-coming jazz musician, are among those with whom students are eager to work.
John Doheny, professor of practice and coordinator of jazz performance studies in the music department, says that McBride taught for the first time during the fall semester.
“He’s a young looking guy, and people would sometimes mistake him for a student,” says Doheny. “But they’ve warmed up to him enormously as a musician and as a tutor.”
McBride, 28, says that in his first semester as a tutor he worked with 11 students.
“The biggest lesson I can pass on is to listen,” McBride says. “If you want to be a jazz musician you have to listen for cohesiveness in the unit and you have to communicate with the rhythm section.”
Jazwinski believes that tutors like Chase and McBride will strengthen the department’s performance program — a goal that she says is important to any music department.
“An excellent performance program is the backbone of every music program, from composition to music history, to music science,” Jazwinski says. “That’s what we are working toward.”
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 firstname.lastname@example.org