“What can I say, he’s a master musician and teacher.” – NYU Steinhardt

An integral part of Dave Douglas’ storied career is his ongoing commitment to education. In addition to his ten years serving as artistic director of the Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music at The Banff Centre in Canada and his recent appointment as International Jazz Artist in Residence at the Royal Academy of Music in London, in 2013 he launched his own Jazz Workshop, dedicated to enriching the musical experiences of younger players.

He is currently on the faculty at The New School’s College of Performing Arts, which includes the Mannes School of Music, as well as The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. The following courses are currently offered:

  • Ear Training: Bach Chorales and Monk Tunes
  • Improvisation Ensemble
  • Creating Music Workshop
  • Recording and Production for Creative Musicians

Douglas has led classes with as many as 70 students at the Banff Centre to as few as 11 students at Carnegie Hall. He is committed to working on and talking about music in any way that is appropriate to the assembled students, tailoring his appearances to the skill level of the participants or the direction of the program they are taking part in. Whether the focus is on playing or composition, Douglas tries to include participatory activity wherever possible. Both single classes and multi-day residencies are possible.

“What can I say, he’s a master musician and teacher.”

- Dr. David Schroeder, Jazz Studies Director, NYU Steinhardt
“. . .Dave is a gifted musician and communicator. His workshop was remarkably informative and truly inspiring.”
- Gary Pratt, Jazz Studies, California State University, Northridge
“Dave Douglas’s contributions to music as a performer, composer, and educator make him one of the most important artists in the jazz community. He is one of these musicians that always has something interesting to say in both his writing and his playing. His compositions are unique, and he has his own improvisational voice all while paying homage to his influences.”
- Christopher Kozak, Jazz Studies, The University of Alabama
“Dave Douglas is the unassuming king of independent jazz, a model of do-it-yourself moxie, initiative and artistic freedom.”
- Frank Alkyer, Publisher, Down Beat Magazine

Possible topics for single classes

Listening to student combos, encouraging original work, commenting on performance, composition, arrangement, notation, rehearsal technique and/or any other issues that arise. Making suggestions for improvement of composition and performance, which sometimes can include jumping in on trumpet to demonstrate a point.

Talking about his own path and how he approaches writing today, demonstrated by playing recordings, or, if possible, reading work with students. Other topics include overcoming writer’s block, finding a personal language, dealing with tradition and history, finding themes.

A brief talk about composition and parameters together with a quick assignment of a simple graphic notation, melodic, or multi-part task to be written on the spot and performed by small student groups. Best for an advanced group, but can work at any level.

Developing techniques for more efficient solo and group practice sessions. Working with the metronome in various ways. Inviting students to play along, trying different polymetric relationships for practice.

Talking about functional harmony by singing and playing Bach Chorales. Sight singing exercises from resources like Lars Edlund’s Modus Novus. On-the-spot harmonization of jazz standards and/or Monk, Coltrane or Shorter compositions. Can occur in multiple ways, depending on the level of the group.

Open to any topic including: Band Leading, Music Business, Creative Life, Coping Strategies, Touring Strategy, etc.

Insights and anecdotes on recording technique and record production.
Best accomplished in a well-furnished recording studio. Can take shape as determined by resources and student level.

An example of a multi-day residency:

Simple Composition for Improvisers
1-3 days with optional concert

This residency helps composers (and so-called “non-composers”) find clarity and definition in their musical expression, addressing one of the biggest challenges in jazz composition–writer’s block. Participants will take on the challenge of writing for improvisers, focusing on breathing openness and flexibility into the written page in such a way that the players are invited into the music-making process while considering the composer’s interaction with the performers. Beginning with the conception of themes, transmission of ideas, performance practice, revision and reconsideration, and resulting in a full presentation of a musical piece.

In this workshop, participants will:

Write within a set of parameters and limitations (parameters vary depending on the level of the participants and the occasion of the workshop)

Play the brief sketches written

Discuss the compositional effectiveness / continued development / ultimate playability / performance issues of each piece

Optional: Perform a concert of existing material, new compositions and/or Dave Douglas originals, some with Douglas as a featured performer


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