Christopher D. Azzara

Professor of Music Education

Affiliate Faculty, Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media
Chair, Music Teaching and Learning

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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 and Chair 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, Japan, and Australia. He has presented clinics and workshops in a variety of settings, including TEDxRochester, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra 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. 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

 

2017

January 19-20, 2017
Christopher Azzara
Creativity and Improvisation in Instrumental Music
Duquesne University
Pittsburgh, PA
Paul Doerksen
doerksenp@duq.edu

February 8-11, 2017 
Christopher Azzara
Session: Practical Guide to Improvisation in Band, Orchestra, & Chorus
Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Convention
San Antonio, TX
Frank Coachman, TMEA Deputy Director
https://www.tmea.org/conventions/2017

February 12, 2017 
Concert Performance on Mark Kellogg’s Recital
Christopher Azzara, piano with Danny Ziemann and Eric Metzgar
Faculty Artist Series
Eastman School of Music
Hatch Recital Hall
Recital Information

March 9-11, 2017
Christopher Azzara
Keynote: Creativity: The Heart of Music Teaching and Learning
3 Sessions: Teaching Improvisation: 6 Key Elements and 7 Skills; 
Learning to Read and Compose: Music Literacy Beyond the Page; 
Assessing Improvisation: Assessing Student Learning
Massachusetts Music Educators Association Conference
Boston, MA
Michele Holt
micheleholt1@gmail.com

April 22-29, 2017 
Christopher Azzara 
Workshops and Session
The Harker School 
San Jose, CA
David Hart

April 26, 2017 
Christopher Azzara, piano
Concert Performance
Cafe Pink House 
Saratoga, CA
with Dave Hart, Trumpet; Ivor Holloway, Tenor Saxophone;
Josh Thurston-Milgrom, Bass; Jason Lewis, Drums

May 15-18, 2017 
Christopher Azzara, piano
Classes, Presentations, and Performances
Hochschule für Musik 
Freiburg, Germany

May 18, 2017 
Christopher Azzara, piano
Concert Performance
Hochschule für Musik 
Freiburg, Germany
with Danny Ziemann, bass; Dany Schay, drums

June 12-16, 2017 
Christopher Azzara
Developing Musicianship through Improvisation Classes
Low Brass Week
Webster University
St. Louis, MO
James A. Martin

June 16, 2017 
Christopher Azzara, piano
Concert Performance with Trombonanza
    with Mark Kellogg, Jim Martin, Aaron Eckert
Eckert’s Summer Concerts 
Belleville, IL
http://www.eckerts.com/free-summer-concert-series/

July 10-14, 2017
Christopher Azzara
Instrumental Methods and Techniques
Developing Musicianship through Improvisation
Gordon College
Wenham, MA
Sandra Doneski
Sandra.Doneski@gordon.edu

July 17-28, 2017
Christopher Azzara 
Instrumental Methods and Techniques 
Developing Musicianship through Improvisation 
Eastman School of Music
Rochester, NY 
Sylvie Beaudette
sbeaudette@esm.rochester.edu

August 1, 2017
Christopher Azzara 
Concert Performance & Improvisation Workshop 
Eastman Summer Trombone Institute
    with Mark Kellogg, Jim Martin, Catie Hickey, & Norman Bolter 
Eastman School of Music
Rochester, NY 
Sylvie Beaudette
sbeaudette@esm.rochester.edu

September 14-15, 2017 
Christopher Azzara 
Creativity and Music Literacy 
Plano Independent School District 
Professional Development 
Plano, TX 
Jeremy Kondrat
jeremy.kondrat@pisd.edu

October 2, 2017
Concert Performance, Mark Kellogg’s Recital
Christopher Azzara, piano
       with Jeff Campbell, bass; Eric Metzgar, drums
Faculty Artist Series
Eastman School of Music
Hatch Recital Hall

October 6-12, 2017 
Christopher Azzara 
Developing Musicianship through Improvisation 
Hochschule für Musik and Theater
Hamburg, Germany 
Hochschule für Musik
Mannheim, Germany
Almuth Süperkrüb
almuth@sueberkrueb.de

November 4, 2017
Christopher Azzara
Developing Musicianship through Improvisation
Baldwin Wallace University
Berea, OH
Dr. Herbert Marshall
hmarshal@bw.edu

November 7, 2017
Christopher Azzara
Improvisation and Music Literacy
Professional Development Workshop
Waltham Public Schools
Waltham, MA

November 30-December 2, 2017
Christopher Azzara 
“Practical Guide to Improvisation”
“Prioritizing Musicianship in Music Teaching and Learning”
New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Conference
Rochester Convention Center 
Rochester, NY 
https://www.nyssma.org

2018

July 16-20, 2018
Christopher Azzara
Instrumental Methods and Techniques
Developing Musicianship through Improvisation
Gordon College
Wenham, MA
Sandra Doneski
Sandra.Doneski@gordon.edu

July 23-August 3, 2018
Christopher Azzara 
Instrumental Methods and Techniques 
Developing Musicianship through Improvisation 
Eastman School of Music
Rochester, NY 
Sylvie Beaudette
sbeaudette@esm.rochester.edu