Christopher D. Azzara

Professor of Music Education

Affiliate Faculty, Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media

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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 Education 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., 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

2018

October 15-16, 2018
Christopher Azzara
Developing Musicianship through Improvisation
Professional Development
Rockwood School District
Eureka, MO
Megan Meier

October 17-19, 2018
Christopher Azzara
Developing Musicianship through Improvisation
Hochschule für Musik and Theater
Hamburg, Germany
Almuth Süperkrüb

October 19-22, 2018
Christopher Azzara
Developing Musicianship through Improvisation
Hochschule für Musik
Mannheim, Germany
Almuth Süperkrüb

October 29, 2018
Christopher Azzara
Concert Performance
Faculty Artist Series
with Mark Kellogg
Hatch Recital Hall
Eastman School of Music
Rochester, NY

November 11-14, 2018
Christopher Azzara
Opus Leader and Presenter:
    Inspiring Students through Music Creativity
National Association for Music Education (NAfME)
Dallas, TX
John Norman
johnn@nafme.org

December 19-22, 2018
Christopher Azzara
Session: “Practical Guide to Improving Musicianship in Band and Orchestra”
    Inspiring Students through Music Creativity
Midwest Clinic, International Band and Orchestra Conference
Chicago, IL
https://www.midwestclinic.org

2019

February 4-5, 2019
Christopher Azzara
Creativity and Music Literacy
Mary Pappert School of Music
Duquesne University
Pittsburgh, PA
Stephen Benham
benham@duq.edu

March 18-20, 2019
Christopher Azzara
Professional Development Workshops
Clinic and Concert Performance
Gahanna-Lincoln High School
Gahanna, OH
Kelly Shellhammer
shellhammerk@gjps.or

April 23, 2019
Christopher Azzara
Creativity and Music Literacy
Crane School of Music
SUNY Potsdam
Potsdam, PA

June 6, 2019
Christopher Azzara
City-Wide Professional Learning Day
New York City Public Schools
New York, NY
Elizabeth Guglielmo
EGuglielmo@schools.nyc.gov

July 10, 2019
Christopher Azzara
Concert Performance with
Kate Lee & Forrest O’Connor Band
Kilbourn Hall
Eastman School of Music
Rochester, NY

July 15-19, 2019
Christopher Azzara 
Instrumental Methods and Techniques 
Developing Musicianship through Improvisation 
Gordon College 
Wenham, MA 
Sandra Doneski 
Sandra.Doneski@gordon.edu

July 22-August 2, 2019
Christopher Azzara 
Instrumental Methods and Techniques 
Developing Musicianship through Improvisation 
Eastman School of Music
Rochester, NY 
Sylvie Beaudette
sbeaudette@esm.rochester.edu

July 29-30, 2019
Christopher Azzara
Concert Performance and Improvisation Session: 
  Developing Musicianship through Improvisation
Eastman Summer Trombone Institute
with Mark Kellogg
Eastman School of Music
Rochester, NY
Sylvie Beaudette
sbeaudette@esm.rochester.edu

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
3 Sessions:
“Harmony”; “Developing Musicianship through Improvisation and Composition”; “Contextualizing Music Reading: Improvisation and Music Notation”
New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA)
Rochester Riverside Convention Center
Rochester, NY

2020

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

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