Christopher D. Azzara

Professor of Music Teaching and Learning

Affiliate Faculty, Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media
Spring Semester 2020 Academic Leave

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Biography

Pianist, arranger, author, and educator, Christopher Azzara has made important contributions to advancing the understanding of creativity and improvisation in the music learning process. An innovator in the area of music teaching and learning, Dr. Azzara is Professor of Music Teaching and Learning, and Affiliate Faculty of Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media at the Eastman School of Music. Teaching and performing internationally, he is the author of numerous articles, arrangements, and books, including Developing Musicianship Through Improvisation, Creativity In Improvisation, and Jump Right In: The Instrumental Series (GIA). His arrangements for instrumental and vocal ensembles include A la nanita nana for choir and chamber orchestra or piano (Oxford), and Concert Selections for Winds and Percussion (GIA). His research and publications are concerned with meaningful relationships among listening, creating, improvising, reading, composing, and analyzing music in vocal and instrumental settings. Dr. Azzara’s work has appeared in journals such as the Journal of Research in Music Education, the Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, the Music Educators Journal, Early Childhood Connections, and in The New Handbook of Research on Music Teaching and Learning (MENC/Oxford), and Oxford Handbooks Online. He performs as a soloist and in various ensembles, including the Chris Azzara Quartet, and has played on and produced many studio and educational recordings. In Rochester, he performs with free-lance musicians, members of the Eastman School of Music faculty, and members of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. An active teacher and clinician, he has taught and performed extensively throughout the United States, and in Canada, the Caribbean, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, China, Japan, and Australia. He has presented clinics and workshops in a variety of settings, including TEDxRochester, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, and leading music schools in this country and abroad.

Christopher Azzara is a native of Virginia and attended public schools in Fairfax County. After receiving the Bachelor of Music degree from George Mason University, he taught instrumental music in the Fairfax County Public Schools and performed as a pianist in the Washington D.C. area. He later received a Master of Music and a Ph.D. in Music Education from the Eastman School of Music. Prior to joining the Eastman faculty, Dr. Azzara was a professor at The Hartt School of Music, Dance, and Theatre of the University of Hartford, CT.

Works / Publications

Selected Works and Publications:

Christopher Azzara on TED Talks

Azzara, Christopher D., Grunow, Richard F. Developing Musicianship through Improvisation. Book/Audio 1-B, 2019.

Azzara, Christopher D., Snell, Alden H., II. Assessment of Improvisation in Music. Oxford Handbooks Online. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Azzara, Christopher D. Improvisation and Composition: Developing Musicianship in Instrumental Music. In “Engaging Music Practices: A Sourcebook on Instrumental Music.” Burton, S. & Snell, A., Editors, Rowman and Littlefield Publications, 2015.

Azzara, Christopher D., Grunow, Richard F. Developing Musicianship through Improvisation.
App for iPad. Chicago: G.I.A Publications, Inc., 2014.

Azzara, Christopher D., Grunow, Richard F. Developing Musicianship through Improvisation.
Book/CDs 1 for Strings. Chicago: G.I.A Publications, Inc., 2011. Books include: 1) Violin, 2) Viola, and 3) Cello/Bass.

Azzara, Christopher D., Grunow, Richard F. Developing Musicianship through Improvisation.
Book/CDs 1, 2, & 3, Chicago: G.I.A Publications, Inc. (2006, 2010) Books include: 1) Vocal – Treble Clef, Bass Clef 2) Instrumental – Treble Clef, Bass Clef, Bb, Eb, and F Instruments.

The recordings for this publication include performances with members of the Eastman School of Music Faculty, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and various free-lance musicians:

  • Christopher Azzara, Piano, Musical Director
  • Gene Bertoncini, Bob Sneider, Guitar
  • Aleck Brinkman, Jeff Campbell, Bass
  • John Beck, Mike Melito, Drums/Percussion
  • Mark Filsinger, David Hart, Clay Jenkins, Mike Kaupa, Trumpet
  • Al Regni, Ramon Ricker, Alto Saxophone
  • Kirsten Edkins, Jose Encarnacion, Ramon Ricker, Walt Weiskopf, Tenor Saxophone
  • Shirantha Beddage, Baritone Saxophone
  • Mark Kellogg, Trombone
  • Lisa Azzara, Karl-Erik Jansson, Jamie Jordan, Luann Saunders, Vocals

Azzara, Christopher D. (2008). Improvisation and Choral Musicianship. The School Choral Program: Philosophy, Planning, Organizing, and Teaching. (M. Holt & J. Jordan, Eds.) Chicago: G.I.A. Publications, Inc.

Azzara, Christopher D. A La Nanita Nana.
Arranged for Children-s Choir, Violin 1, Violin 2, Viola, Cello, Bass, Flute, and Clarinet. (2006)

Azzara, Christopher D. A La Nanita Nana.
Companion piece arranged for Choir (SATB), Violin 1, Violin 2, Viola, Cello, Bass, Flute, and Clarinet. (2006)

Co-author and Pianist for Jump Right In: The Instrumental Series, Solo Book/CD 1-A and Solo Book/CD 1-B.
Chicago: G.I.A. Publications, Inc. (2006)
Eight Books and CDs: 1) Violin; 2) Viola; 3) Cello; 4) Bass.
(Grunow, Richard F., Gordon, Edwin E., Azzara, Christopher D., Martin, Michael E., Jump Right In: The Instrumental Series for Strings.)

The recordings for these publications include performances with members of the Eastman School of Music Faculty, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and various free-lance musicians:

  • Christopher Azzara, Piano, Musical Director – Eastman School of Music
  • Gene Burtoncini, Guitar – Free-lance musician, New York, NY
  • Bob Sneider, Guitar – Eastman School of Music
  • Jeff Campbell, Bass – Eastman School of Music
  • John Beck, Percussion – Eastman School of Music
  • Marissa Regni, Violin – Principal Second Violin, National Symphony Orchestra
  • George Taylor, Viola – Eastman School of Music
  • Mimi Hwang, Cello – Free-lance musician and instructor of chamber music, Eastman School of Music
  • James Vandemark, Bass – Eastman School of Music

Azzara, Christopher D. (2002). Improvisation. In “The New Handbook of Research on Music Teaching and Learning.” New York: Oxford University Press

For more information on Dr. Azzara’s publications, visit G.I.A. Publications.

Engagements / Professional Activities

2019

October 21 & 22, 2019
Christopher Azzara
Developing Musicianship through Improvisation Classes
New York City Public Schools
Carnegie Hall
New York, NY
Elizabeth Guglielmo
EGuglielmo@schools.nyc.gov

November 3, 2019
Christopher Azzara
Concert Performance
Faculty Artist Series
with Mark Kellogg
Hatch Recital Hall
Eastman School of Music
Rochester, NY

November 5, 2019
Christopher Azzara
Developing Musicianship through Improvisation
Western Connecticut State University
Danbury, CT
Matthew Doiron
doironm@wcsu.edu

December 5-8, 2019
Christopher Azzara
“Harmony”
New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA)
Rochester Riverside Convention Center
Rochester, NY

2020

January 13-19, 2020
Christopher Azzara
Developing Musicianship through Improvisation
Classes, Workshops, Performance
Hochschule für Musik and Theater
Hamburg, Germany
Almuth Süperkrüb

January 28-February 1, 2020
Christopher Azzara
Artist in Residence
Doane University
Lincoln, NE
Kathi Ohlman

February 6-8, 2020
Christopher Azzara
Keynote Speaker and Presenter
South Carolina Music Educators Association (SCMEA)
Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center
Columbia, SC
Michael Moore
Mmoore@bju.edu

March 27, 2020
Christopher Azzara
Practical Guide to Teaching Improvisation and Composition, Part 1
New York City Public Schools
New York, NY
Elizabeth Guglielmo
EGuglielmo@schools.nyc.gov

April 24-26, 2020
Christopher Azzara
Improvisation Workshops and Classes
Kinder singen
University Arts Berlin
Berlin, Germany
Gudrun Gierszal

May 8, 2020
Christopher Azzara
Practical Guide to Teaching Improvisation and Composition, Part 2
New York City Public Schools
New York, NY
Elizabeth Guglielmo
EGuglielmo@schools.nyc.gov

July 13-17, 2020
Christopher Azzara 
Developing Musicianship through Improvisation: Where to Begin and Beyond
Gordon College 
Wenham, MA 
Sandra Doneski 
Sandra.Doneski@gordon.edu

July 20-31, 2020
Christopher Azzara 
Instrumental Methods and Techniques 
Developing Musicianship through Improvisation 
Eastman School of Music
Rochester, NY 
Sylvie Beaudette
sbeaudette@esm.rochester.edu

July/August 2020
Christopher Azzara
Concert Performance and Improvisation Session: 
  Developing Musicianship through Improvisation
Eastman Summer Trombone Institute (ESTI)
with Mark Kellogg
Eastman School of Music
Rochester, NY
Sylvie Beaudette
sbeaudette@esm.rochester.edu