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CURRENT STUDENTS: Our program for area music students (grades 8 to 12) resumes in December, with auditions in November. Please consider joining us!
FORMER STUDENTS: The VJC Alumni Band resumes in May, working toward a concert performance in Ravenscroft Hall in late June. Learn more HERE!
EDUCATORS: Check out our new Flexible Instrumentation Big Band charts, released by VJC Publications. You can listen to most of these publications HERE on the VJC YouTube channel. We've also revived our JEN25 coupon code from back in January. Use that code at checkout to receive 25% off every VJC Publications purchase through May 31st!
“Performing in Russ Schmidt’s Jazz Ensemble as an NAU undergraduate was one of the most memorable experiences in my education. Russ is the type of Jedi Musician you want to be around; he’s insightful, energetic, witty, generous, kind — and will 100% kick your butt. He’s a teacher with high expectations, who pushes his students, yet never makes them feel small. After my time at NAU, I was lucky enough to attend the Eastman School of Music for graduate school, where I worked with some of the best performers and educators in our field. Russ Schmidt is certainly one of them, and he’s right here in our backyard. If I could sign up to play in this band, I would.”
Percussionist, Composer, Educator
Faculty & Assistant Dean of Entrepreneurial Musicianship, New England Conservatory
"Russell Schmidt is not only a world-class pianist, composer, and arranger, but a first-rate educator and bandleader. He has the unique ability to address students of widely varying levels and inspire them to greater musical achievements. As a teaching-artist Russ incorporates the legacy and tradition of jazz in a modern approach to style, ensemble skills, improvisation, and overall musicianship.”
Associate Professor of Practice (String Bass) & Jazz Studies Area Coordinator, Northern Arizona University
"Russ has everything that a jazz student could want or need in a teacher: an incredible ear, a complete mastery of the jazz language, the ability to articulate musical concepts in words with amazing clarity, fantastic compositional skills, and an encyclopedic knowledge of music history and repertoire. On top of all of that, his quick wit and kindness make learning from him a joy. Having him as a teacher was one of the best and most valuable experiences of my musical education, and I would encourage any student of music to embrace the opportunity to learn from him."
“Russ Schmidt is one of the kindest, most genuine educators and musicians I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. He is a true master of his craft as well as a respectful, positive influence on students of all ages and abilities. I have always enjoyed watching Russ teach and perform; he is a musician and teacher for all the right reasons and seeks to share that with his students. His performances are real, compelling and enlightening and jazz enthusiasts of all ages can benefit from his artistry.”
Dr. Brian Sproul
Associate Professor (Lecturer) & Director of Athletic Bands, University of Utah
"Russell Schmidt is one of the finest musicians and educators I have ever had the pleasure of working with. During my time at Bowling Green State University, there was not a topic that we covered in classes that Russell did not have complete command/knowledge of, and his excitement in sharing the information with the students was always evident. Additionally, when I later had my own program, Russell was very gracious with my students, and his ability to traverse multiple musical styles was seamless. I am honored to call Russ a teacher, mentor, colleague, and friend."
Douglas J. Neel
Guitarist, Trombonist, Educator
Faculty, Capital University-Conservatory of Music
“Russ Schmidt is an amazing pianist (check out his CD release, "Anachromysticism"!) who has an equally impressive resume in education. His creative approach to music, the learning process, and composition is something every young person should experience!”
Jazz Faculty, Caltech, Pasadena City College & Pomona College
"I was very fortunate to study with Russell Schmidt for three years at the University of Utah. In addition to bringing his masterful musicianship, artistry, and attention to detail to every musical encounter, he was also an enthusiastic and sincere mentor. The knowledge he imparted has provided me an exceptional scaffolding for a career in jazz and I could not be more grateful."
Hot House West
"I worked with Russ Schmidt in a variety of musical situations in our years of teaching together at Bowling Green State University. I am delighted that he is continuing to share his formidable skills and passion for music with young people. I recommend this ensemble to anyone who has the opportunity to participate."
Professor Emeritus of Music Performance Studies, Bowling Green State University
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