Degree(s): MM Saxophone Performance, University of Michigan, 2012
BM Saxophone Performance, The Hartt School, 2010
Current Employment/Employer(s): United States Coast Guard Band, tenor saxophonist; Thames Valley Music School, saxophone instructor
Former Employment/Employer(s): University of Massachusetts-Amherst, saxophone instructor; Port Huron High School Band Camp, sax/marching instructor; University of Miami, teaching assistant; New World Symphony Orchestra, saxophone sub-list; Palm Beach Symphony Orchestra, guest saxophonist
Current and/or Former Creative Projects:
*Recently formed a Reed quintet with members of USCG Band for a series of educational outreach concerts that has quickly turned into a serious group. We're all so excited about the colors of this ensemble (oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, saxophone).
*Two days ago I was asked to conduct the USCG Brass Ensemble in a performance of Wagner's "Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral", which I happily said yes to. I would say this is a creative project because I have no idea what I'm doing and the concert is in a month. Creativity will play a key role in how I manage to pull this one off.
Advice for Current Students:
1. Be the worst musician in the room; hang out with the big kids all. the. time.
2. Treat all of your studio assignments and work as the most important work you do. I find that you learn a lot about yourself in how you approach this work load. If it's taken seriously enough, it actually bleeds into all other aspects of your life in such a positive way.
3. Always be curious; and never stop looking for what you want.
4. Be open to the possibility of a career in music. This goes far beyond the spectrum of performance.
5. Collaborate with as many musicians as possible. Musically speaking, this is where we all grow up.
6. If there's a musician/performer/educator/etc. that inspires you, make it a point to see them do what they do at least once a year. It's a humbling reminder of the greatness you often want for yourself.
7. Passion and attitude are contagious. For the better, bring both to the table every day.
8. You are what you listen to.
9. Throughout your studies in music and beyond that, you always have a choice. Often times these choices must be made after a 'loss'. Loss can include: letters of rejection . . . losing a competition . . . not performing well . . . bad auditions . . . etc. Man, I have lost. A lot. My two choices? Wallow in self-pity, or get up and go at it harder. I always chose the latter.
10. There are a lot of good teachers. There's also a lot of great teachers. But there are very few special teachers. When you are fortunate enough to entrust your passion for music with a special teacher, they will push you past your limits into the world we call artistry.
11. April 22, 2010. The end of my senior year of college, I drove into New York City to see one of my biggest inspirations, violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. Star struck after her concert, I asked if she would write some advice for me on her paper program. She wrote "To Joe – practice . . . it's worth it."
Anything else you want to add regarding your current life? I have three cats. I never thought I would have three cats. I never really thought I would have one cat. It’s a little weird. I've always said that people who have more than 2 cats qualify as weird cat people. While I don't hang out with my cats all day, I do find myself asking them for advice occasionally. I suppose I'm officially a weird cat person.