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VJC Online Guest Artist Clinics art for

ABOUT VJC Online Guest Artist Clinics


Once a month, between February and May 2021, the VJC will bring in leading artist-teachers from around the country for hour-long, Zoom-based clinics on various topics of interest for developing creative musicians. These sessions are offered without charge. And although they have been created for our VJC students and program alums, all JHS, HS, and college students with interest are welcome to attend any of these events.

VJC Director Russell Schmidt will be on hand to moderate and assist each special guest with these Online Guest Artist Clinics. Anyone interested in attending should contact Russ to get a Zoom link for each session.

This page will be updated occasionally to reflect the developing roster of clinicians joining us remotely. The current roster of clinicians is as follows:

Saturday, February 20th @ 1:00 p.m. — Jack Schantz on The Three Centers of Playing: Physical, Intellectual, and Emotional

Saturday, March 20th @ 1:00 p.m. — Alexa Tarentino on What's Next? An Early Career Toolkit

Saturday, April 10th @ 1:00 p.m. — Drew Worden on Open Ears: Co-Creating Music

Saturday, May 15th @ 1:00 p.m. — Tito Carrillo on Develop Your Ear in Jazz with the KISRI Method & The Keys to Playing Melodic Solos: Phrasing and Space

Times shown are Arizona time. (Out-of-state attendees: Be advised that Arizona does not participate in Daylight Savings Time.) 

Please note: This page provides information about VJC Online Guest Artist Clinics offered through Zoom. If you are interested in learning more about other VJC Online activities (including virtual ensembles and special topics classes), please click here.

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About the clinicians:

On FEBRUARY 20th: Trumpeter/educator Jack Schantz was the Artistic Director of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra for 15 years. He recently retired from his position as Coordinator of Jazz Studies at the University of Akron, a role he held for 20 years (and an institution at which he taught for 30 years). Over the course of a long, distinguished career as a revered artist-teacher, Jack has performed with Tony Bennett, Clare Fischer, Woody Herman, Diane Schuur, Mel Torme, Sarah Vaughan, and Nancy Wilson, as well as the Blossom Festival Orchestra and the Cleveland Pop Orchestra. Additionally, he has recorded with Paul Ferguson, Sean Jones, Joe Lovano, Dave Morgan, Oscar Peterson, Dan Wall, and with his own group.


Jack has a music performance philosophy that many younger musicians can benefit greatly from. He gives careful consideration to three centers of playing: Physical, Intellectual, and Emotional. His goal is to have those three centers in balance, though it is difficult to actually progress in more than one area at a time. While this might make one's growth less traditionally linear, it always makes for a more meaningful creative development in the long-term.


If you are asking yourself questions like "How do I successfully express the creativity that's in my head through my instrument?" or "What exactly do I do with all this theory I've learned?", Jack's masterfully holistic approach to making music can help you solve this particular piece of the creative puzzle. Please join us for this session on February 20th.

On MARCH 20th Alexa Tarantino is an award-winning, vibrant, young jazz saxophonist, woodwind doubler, composer, and educator. Her “lovely, ardent way of improvising,” and “sharply plotted but gracefully unencumbered straight-ahead jazz [compositions]” (The New York Times) establish her individual voice which shines through as a dynamic performer and educator. Alexa was named one of the “Top 5 Alto Saxophonists of 2019” by the JazzTimes Critics’ Poll and nominated as a “Rising Star – Alto Saxophone” by Downbeat Magazine’s 2020 Critics’ Poll.


Alexa has performed regularly as a leader and sidewoman in a wide variety of ensembles and genres including the Cecile McLorin Salvant Quintet, OGRESSE, Ulysses Owens Jr.’s Generation Y, LSAT (a quintet co-led with baritone saxophonist Lauren Sevian), Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Sherrie Maricle & the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, and her own Alexa Tarantino Quartet. Firefly, her third album for Posi-Tone Records, will be released on April 30, 2021.


Alexa is currently on faculty for Jazz at Lincoln Center's Youth Programs (High School Jazz Academy, Let Freedom Swing/Jazz for Young People) and represents the organization as a Clinician and Educator for various schools, festivals, and workshops, including a recent appearance in Arizona as the Guest Director of AZ All-State jazz Ensemble I.


In her clinic with VJC students, Alexa will be presenting "What's Next? An Early Career Toolkit." This session is designed to inspire, empower, and encourage the next generation of creatives to find their niche in the ever-changing arts world. Through an open and spirited discussion, participants will leave with a greater understanding of sculpting a mission statement, defining priorities and routines, and exploring and growing their network, all with the goal of building the creative life they want to live.

On APRIL 10th: Drew Worden is Faculty & Assistant Dean of Entrepreneurial Musicianship at the New England Conservatory and a percussionist, drummer, and composer in Boston. Drew teaches two courses at NEC which he designed and authored for the school's curriculum: Grant Writing & Fundraising for Artists and Health & Wellness for Musicians. At NEC, he coaches 250+ students individually in career development and venture creation each year, and co-leads an annual Jazz & Entrepreneurship Residency which has featured guest artists Maria Schneider, Luciana Souza, and Dave Douglas.


As a composer, Drew’s percussion music is programmed frequently at conservatories and universities around the world with recent performances in France, Greece, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Malaysia, Colombia, and across the United States. His music has been commissioned and performed by the Paris Percussion Group, the Eastman Percussion Ensemble, and Virginia Tech. A recent work for percussion ensemble, BOLT, received its premiere in Carnegie Hall in 2018.


As a composer for multimedia, Drew’s original scores can be heard in the documentary  Spiritus (Student Academy Awards, finalist) and the children’s book series Yum & Yuk. Drew is co-founder of The Big Trouble, an indie/rock percussion and songwriting collective, which he created alongside percussionist and composer Ivan Trevino in 2017. The Big Trouble won a Live Arts Boston Grant from The Boston Foundation and was invited to perform a Showcase Concert at PASIC 2018. 


Born and raised in Phoenix, Drew earned the MM in Percussion Performance and Certificate in Arts Leadership from the Eastman School of Music and the BM in Percussion Performance from Northern Arizona University. In his clinic for the VJC, Drew will present "Open Ears: Co-Creating Music." Drew believes that listening is at the core of creating. From co-writing songs with his indie rock band The Big Trouble, to composing commissioned classical percussion music, to working with his students at NEC as Assistant Dean of Entrepreneurial Musicianship, deep listening and an open mind have helped him create a unique and multifaceted career in music. Through his original music, score samples, and Q&A, Drew shares his ideas on writing music collaboratively and being open to unexpected moments of discovery. 

ON MAY 15th: Tito Carrillo is one of the finest performers to emerge from Chicago's rich jazz trumpet legacy. He is an accomplished trumpeter, bandleader, composer, and educator who has been a fixture in the Chicago jazz and Latin music scenes for a quarter century.

Tito has performed, recorded, and toured with an impressive list of jazz greats, including Jackie Allen, Ryan Cohan, Jon Faddis, Dana Hall, Louis Hayes, Vincent Herring, Willie Pickens, and Claudio Roditi, as well as big bands such as the Woody Herman Orchestra (Frank Tiberi, director), the Chicago Jazz Ensemble (Bill Russo and Jon Faddis, directors), the Chicago Jazz Orchestra (Jeff Lindberg, director), and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra (David Baker, director). He has also collaborated with Salsa legends such as Andy Montañez, Tony Vega, and Cheo Feliciano, Latin jazz giants Tito Puente and Paquito D'Rivera, and pop icons Quincy Jones and Phil Collins.


A native of Austin, Texas, Tito has been a member of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign faculty for 15 years. Prior to his appointment at Illinois, he served on the faculty at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, as well as at Northwestern University. He also maintains an active career as a guest artist/clinician at secondary and collegiate jazz programs across the nation.


In his hour-long clinic with VJC students, Tito will be presenting two different topics, each subject drawn from a YouTube series of tutorial videos he will be releasing later this year. The first half of his clinic is entitled “Develop Your Ear in Jazz with the KISRI Method.” The second half will explore “The Keys to Playing Melodic Solos: Phrasing and Space.”


Tito is already familiar to many here in Arizona, either through his performances and recordings with VJC Director Russell Schmidt or through his appearances at the Highland/ASU Jazz Festival as an adjudicator/clinician. We hope you will join us in mid-May for another great VJC Online Guest Artist Clinic.

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