"Knowledge and intuition
are both necessary. Either one,
left out there too long on its own, is going to falter."
My teaching philosophy
is simple. I don't care to teach.
At least, not in the traditional sense. I prefer to mentor.
The old-world style of mentoring
has been enormously successful throughout centuries of music education.
It has been a vital method of jazz education since the origin
of jazz, as evinced in the sequence of pictures above.
I take a genuine interest in my
students – their music, their goals and their lives –
as these are inseparable in my opinion. Their futures matter to
me, personally and professionally. How could any teacher even
evaluate his own methodologies without knowing the fate of his
students? After all, that knowledge is the assessment of his approach,
wherein the ultimate litmus test lies.
Educational excellence in the
arts requires much more than just the transfer of knowledge. Were
it so simple, I would recommend some of the many resources available
and wish each student good luck on his or her journey. However,
most students that run the gamut of texts and online resources
without guidance simply don't develop as players, nor do they
deepen their musical understanding. Expert, focused and real-time
feedback is the centerpiece of a performing arts education.
The Artist and the Art
I maintain a teaching philosophy
which both acknowledges and addresses the inescapable connection
between the artist and his art. I’ve never encountered a
musician offstage that didn’t personally evince correlative
traits to his onstage performance. Sometimes this is good. Sometimes
it’s not. For example, a musician who exhibits a forward-thinking
mind-set in conversation will almost always deliver an architecturally
sound performance. Similarly, a musician who speaks monotonously
will tend to play with less varied dynamics. The art cannot escape
the artist, for better or worse. While this may seem like a quandary,
the resolution can be simple.
Sometimes to improve a music performance,
the musician needs to grow personally. I believe the ability to
remain mentally elastic so as to allow perceptual evolution is
a sign of intelligence. I’m certainly a different person
than I was even a few years ago and I hope to be a different person
in a few years hence. Similarly, my playing has evolved along
with me. I can’t escape the connection, either. While I
certainly wouldn’t want all my students to conform to a
single behavioral model, I do endeavor to guide each student to
develop their own intellectual and personal strengths. It results
in better playing. Perhaps more importantly, it results in a higher
degree of perception and creativity.
Did you cringe a little back there?
Concerned that I might focus too much attention on your personal
strengths and weaknesses and lose sight of your musical goals?
After all, aren’t you considering coming to me for information
about jazz? You needn’t be concerned. I wouldn’t
want to change the essence of who you are. I'm simply interested
in seeing you grow artistically through personal growth, which
I believe is essential for a full life. I live by that philosophy,
or at least continually aspire to live by it.
That one professor: is
Serious professional musicians
tend to cite the individual who mentored their paths before they
cite the name of a college or a conservatory they attended, especially
when speaking with other musicians. While a mentor may sometimes
emerge within the academic framework, too often that’s not
the case. The value of a mentor cannot be overestimated. Consider
that, even in today's high-tech high-access world, less than 5%
of the teachers produce more than 95% of the professionals. Furthermore,
less than 10% of graduates from even the top 1% of music schools
in the world end up making a living in the music industry. Imagine
the statistics at the other 99% of music schools! To quote world-class
musician Pat Metheny, a former Berklee College of Music instructor,
"Most guys at Berklee are going to wind up truck drivers…"
Coordination of presented
I have nothing against colleges.
I went to college and I’ve taught at two of them. However
the nature of a college jazz program is such that the various
instructors of related music subjects (i.e. improvisation, combo,
arranging, applied lessons, jazz history, etc.) generally don’t
know what is being presented at any given time in each other’s
classes. There is little to no coordination of topics, other than
in the broadest sense. This results in a disconnected presentation
of related materials in classes, lessons and ensembles. While
this may be unavoidable for a college serving a high number of
students, this isn't necessarily the best way to educate students
in the performing arts.
Jazz programs are layered
over classical programs
Another difficulty college jazz
programs face is that their curriculum must be built on top of
the classical curriculum. In other words, jazz majors are typically
required to learn musical disciplines that are oriented to the
classical student, but are not applicable to the study of jazz.
Traditional classical theory, beyond that which offers a foundation
for jazz theory, is not relevant for jazz musicians. (Yes, the
theory of music has changed as has music.) Neither is the historical
study of music from the Renaissance period relevant. While there’s
nothing wrong with knowing these things, they consume time better
spent on more applicable information. After all, classical students
are not required to learn jazz history or jazz improvisation.
Static program: dynamic
art and profession
Any jazz program must constantly
evaluate and reevaluate what is most relevant within this ever-evolving
art and profession. When something new is needed, something else
must go. Relevance should be the deciding factor of what is introduced,
stays or goes, especially if a stated objective of the program
is to prepare professionals.
Administrators and time
Music college deans and music
department chairpersons seldom come from a jazz background. A
cultural divide is typical. Assistance in the form of either resources
or the development and implementation of a relevant jazz curriculum
can be a rarity. Further, if the degree sought is accredited,
several non-music courses are required. While there is a benefit
to a broad-based education within the college experience, it is
outweighed by the need to absorb an overwhelming amount of information
essential to a music career in a relatively short time period.
Financial realities of
I certainly understand that schools
must be financially sound to be viable, and therefore must operate
on a large scale. My educational model could never serve the larger
financial needs of a college. While I can afford to select a smaller
number of students who I believe will succeed within my program,
music colleges cannot. If they accepted only those students that
they believed would succeed, most of them would have to close
their doors. Regardless of their selection process, they must
accept a larger number of students.
Jazz Arts Studio
One of the strongest advantages
of my program is that I teach or supervise all facets of instruction.
This results in a clear connection between all areas of study.
Topics that are conventionally presented in separate classes elsewhere
are integrated within the same class at a time which is appropriate
to the larger educational picture. This real-time, cross-curricular
approach keeps all material fully in context.
And, while I’ve developed
a very clear curriculum of topics covered at various levels (see
Admissions page), the chronology
of my presentation is malleable. Due to a teaching methodology
which is highly responsive to real-time performance, no schedule
is too binding or any plan unalterable. Spontaneity is used unsparingly
to address the unique strengths and weaknesses which lie within
Those students who previously
attended or graduated a music school before coming to study with
me often comment that they prefer my approach, which enables them
to learn contextual material in a class setting and, in many cases,
immediately apply it in a coordinating combo setting. My students
learn how to integrate new information into their playing immediately.
And how do I adapt my program
to an ever-evolving art and profession? My autonomy liberates
me from the conventional struggles to gain both resources and
approval for a new course, which may or may not come next year.
If a topic is relevant, we address it now.
Finally, my expenses are clearly
underneath those of a college. I keep them low by being both “chief
cook and bottle washer.” In other words, I work hard to
ensure Jazz Arts Studio’s continued success. And, even though
we have excellent space in downtown Dayton, I don't have to pay
for all those fancy buildings you might see on a pretty campus.
Something I Would Ask
Should you become a student, I
will ask you to afford me a little “blind faith” in
the beginning. I will actually earn your faith soon enough, but
in the meantime let me direct your path. Allow me to guide your
questions, not simply answer them. Often the right answer lies
in the right question. This is especially true in music, where
there is so much interconnected information to grasp and the need
for conceptualization is great. Also, remember that many answers
come with hard work.
Better to Know This Now
In the end, all that matters is
how well a musician plays, not which college or conservatory they
attended. This applies whether the student desires to forge a
career in music or whether he or she exclusively wishes to develop
the art for art’s sake. Throughout my career, nobody has
ever asked me where I studied, save one exception. Knowledge is
demonstrated in every performance. This industry is very unlike
most others in that academic credentials are not particularly
There are exceptions. In order
to teach in a K-12 school, a music education degree (which isn't
focused on performance) is required to obtain certification. If
teaching in a post-secondary environment is the goal, then both
a bachelor’s and a master’s degrees are generally
required even for an entry position. Eventually, a doctoral degree
will be necessary to attain tenure.
There are some (I admit I'm in
this category) who often consider there to be an inverse correlation
between performance skill and degree advancement. While it seems
contrary to conventional wisdom, this is not an uncommon view
held by professional musicians.
Master’s and doctoral degrees
require many hours of research, which leaves less time for practice.
And, while the musician toils away in an academic environment,
far less professional experience accumulates. Many industry professionals
go as far as to advise those seeking real-world opportunities
within music to leave their graduate degrees off their resumes.
Talk about cognitive dissonance!
A Fate to Avoid
Unfortunately, mediocre musicianship
and professional ignorance runs rampant through a surprisingly
high number of music college graduates. It’s not unexpected
as many of their teachers didn’t posses the necessary tools
to impart to their students. The truth is, other than the few
marquee instructors at larger music colleges, most faculty members
have never made a living by performing outside academia. And their
business skills are typically underdeveloped and untested. However,
many are eager to guide your professional path.
The Qualified Mentor
I believe that there are many
qualities an excellent music mentor must possess: a solid grasp
of the material, a clear picture of the developmental arc, practical
and lengthy professional experience, an ability to evaluate a
performance and positively affect it, significant life experience
and willingness to care about his students and their efforts.
As of this writing (January of
2008) I have amassed 44 years of music study, 33 years of teaching
experience, 30 years of professional experience (well over 5,000
gigs) and 29 years of experience as a jazz educator. I've not
only made this my profession, I've made it my life's work.
There will eventually be that
"one right teacher" that every musician needs to move
beyond a certain point. Hopefully you will consider what I have
to offer when seeking yours. Perhaps we will have the opportunity
to work together to understand and realize your goals.
Oh, and in the statistical likelihood
that you play an instrument other than piano, please notice in
the above sets of pictures that, as often as not, a musician is
mentored by someone who plays an instrument other than his own.
Pianists are the most common “other instrumentalists”
in such an arrangement.
Audley Wasson (included in the
pictures below) was a deeply passionate musician who studied with
the Swiss concert pianist Rudolph Ganz, who in turn studied with
Busoni and Brahms. While Jazz is clearly a distinctive idiom,
music is music, and Wasson - a classical pianist and master teacher
- instilled in me the musical qualities that are most important
to me to this day.
Over these many years, I’ve
had the absolute privilege of working with hundreds of motivated
and talented students. Many of them continue to play in this region.
Several more have moved on to enjoy successful music careers in
larger markets. Still others have taken what they have learned
about how to rigorously pursue their dreams into other successful
walks of life. In all cases, a more evolved understanding, perception
and performance of music occurs.
The program has attracted students
not just from Dayton and its outlying areas, but also from Cincinnati,
Columbus and well beyond. The professional and personal network
of current and past students is large and the mutual support and
kinship demonstrated routinely is virtually unsurpassed. To get
a sense of this from the students’ perspectives, along with
the perspectives of outside area professionals and parents, please
read the testimonials below.
Jazz Arts Studio is a phenomenal resource. I've been around
the studio for a few years, and during that time I've seen the
transformation of players with relatively modest skills into exceptional
players; I'm certain that this transformation is not luck.
Eric Zadan is a man who cares deeply for each one of his students.
Be it the assignment of material to practice, constructive criticism,
or the entertaining lectures on everything from harmony to life
lessons to business marketing, he demonstrates that his primary
interest is the students’– and it is for this caring attitude
and these various teachings that I am most thankful to him. He
inspires and motivates me to expect higher standards of myself
and to achieve excellence in not only my music studies but all
facets of my life.
Saxophonist, Jazz Columnist, Dayton
My experience at Jazz Arts Studio has
been an altogether positive one. The studio is an excellent place
to learn music theory, improve your hearing, and increase your
repertoire. All that said, that is not the reason I attend classes
here. The mere accumulation of musical facts and knowledge does
not interest me as a student. The studio gives you the opportunity
to breathe life into music, create something beautiful, and really
play music. The studio helps you keep in sight the larger
picture of playing music for music's sake, something many other
teachers overlook. I do not mean to suggest that subtleties and
details are overlooked at the studio; they are just placed in
a larger context. For a student wanting to learn how to play jazz,
this is the best opportunity in Dayton to do so.
Student, Bassist, New York City
I met Eric in 1992. I have been studying
music with him ever since we met. Although I have had many teachers
prior to meeting Eric, and some others since, I can say unequivocally
that he is the best teacher I have ever had. I truly believe that
whatever success I have experienced in my career thus far can
be directly traced back to things I learned from Eric. Not only
do I have the highest respect for him as a musician; I feel that
his wide and varied experience in music, in addition to his strong
teaching and communication skills, distinguish him from the vast
majority of other teachers. I feel very lucky to be able to study
with someone so uniquely qualified to help aspiring musicians.
I would recommend his teaching without hesitation to anyone seriously
interested in furthering their musical career.
I’ve known Eric for the better part of eight years. One thing that has been unmistakably constant throughout is his concern for his friends and students. It’s evident that he’s incapable of doing anything less than whatever he can to improve the lives of those around him.
Bassist, New York City
I began studying at the Jazz Arts Studio
when I was thirteen years old. Eric instantly transformed my technique
and made me a better player. I was playing classical pieces that
I had never dreamed of. Over the years, I did however start to
get into jazz. Learning about jazz theory and applying it in a
real life environment is an amazing experience. When I had the
motivation to bear down and work, I took huge steps forward as
a musician and as a person. Eric Zadan is a good friend and a
musical genius. The Jazz Arts Studio is a gold mine of opportunity
for the serious student.
I first became seriously interested
in music about my junior year of high school and was pretty obsessed
by my senior year. About this time I heard Eric and a number of
his students perform at a local venue and it blew my mind. I couldn't
have imagined that musicians this talented and impassioned lived
in the area I grew up in. Shortly after I decided to go off to
study music at a big ten university which quickly became one of
the worst experiences of my life. After my first year, I came
to study with Eric and found the same passion and talent was as
prevalent in his teaching as it was in his playing. It put university
music school to shame! Not only was Eric concerned about my evolution
as a musician, but I got the impression that he was actually concerned
for my personal growth. It may seem like an obvious trait for
a teacher, but I've had a lot of music teachers and it seems to
be more the exception than the rule. Anyway, now my practicing
seems to actually produce growth in my playing and I've seen a
number of changes in my personal life for the better.
Eric Zadan is an extraordinary music
teacher. There is no doubt that every single bit of musical knowledge
I have can be directly attributed to him. Although his teaching
abilities alone separate him from many other teachers, what widens
the gap is his overwhelming sense of selflessness. Eric’s
level of dedication to his students cannot be surpassed. I couldn’t
even fathom a guess at how many hours a week he spends preparing
material for upcoming classes and events. You simply won’t
find a teacher with such an intense commitment anywhere else.
Although many other people on this page have already said the
same, I still must tell you that Eric has not only been influential
as a music teacher, but he has literally changed my life. It is
hard for me to identify a topic on which my perspective has not
been changed for the better since I first met Eric. I have never
seen him hesitate to set aside time to help a student with an
issue or problem outside of music.
I can honestly say that because of Eric and the Jazz Arts Studio,
I have been able to happily and comfortably pursue my life dream
of playing music as a profession.
Pianist, Singer, Songwriter, Dayton
I joined the Jazz Arts Studio looking
for a thorough and intensive jazz studies program that would help
me to progress quickly. I found that and an incredible amount
more. In addition to Eric's criticism, his wealth of jazz knowledge
and creative, musical ideas, his advice on business and life in
general, I found a community of warm, engaged and determined people,
students and Eric alike. I felt accepted by everyone from the
moment I walked through the door, and only grew closer to Eric
and the students as time went on. I always feel that I am in the
company of good friends at the studio, and I look forward to every
lesson, class, combo and, yes, even every board.
Eric is more than just a piano teacher to me. He is a life teacher.
Every little thing he says, regardless of whether it has anything
to do with music or not, helps to shape me as a better person.
He encourages his students to think before they act, to speak
articulately, and to consider others before themselves. Joining
the Jazz Arts Studio has helped me to "find myself"
both as a musician and as a person. Thanks Eric!
Eric is an extraordinarily sensitive
musician, with a particular genius for nurturing that sensitivity
in his students. Any serious musician can only grow from investing
time in his program. Well into my professional career, I spent
a year with Eric, not only enlarging my knowledge of jazz but
also incorporating long-ignored fundamentals of technique. Equally
vital was what I learned about "listening" to the piano.
Those who are fortunate enough to study with Eric, derive lifelong
benefits from having done so.
I met Eric when I was seventeen and
became a part of the Jazz Arts Studio. Up to that point, my musical
training had come in the form of weekly lessons. What came after
was a complete submersion in the study of a career as a musician.
Eric met with me privately each week as well as provided and coached
me in jazz ensembles of my peers. This gave me the opportunity
to apply ideas discussed in lessons.
Eric helped me to build a foundation of musicianship by stressing
swing feel, swing feel, swing feel, (you must swing), phrasing,
and communication within an ensemble. He then offered ideas on
how to apply these skills in a way to provide for myself financially.
I am currently living and working as a musician in Las Vegas.
I remain in close contact with Eric and still use his opinions
as a reference in my career.
Saxophonist, Las Vegas
Eric is a passionate musician and an exceptional educator. He teaches each student holistically, providing insight to real world application along the way.
Guitarist, Tipp City, Ohio
I began studying at the Jazz Arts Studio
in the fall of 2006. However, my first experiences with Eric Zadan,
and the education the studio provides, began at the age of 12.
I took private bass lessons with Ben Freelove who was a student
at the time. The education the studio provides was evident, not
only through Ben’s playing, but in his ability to teach.
The foundation provided to me was crucial in my musical understanding.
Through middle and high school concert and jazz bands I constantly
referenced my bass lessons, I learned more through those lessons
than I ever did in the school band room. After attending college
as a fine arts major I decided that I needed to study music. I
spent some time in Sinclair’s music program but wasn’t
satisfied, and decided to check out the studio. To put it simply,
making the choice to attend the studio was the best decision I’ve
ever made. I have never experienced a peer group that demands
such excellence, and truly works to achieve it.
The environment at the studio is like no other, it is professional
as well as educational. I think of it like this; when we learn
to speak as kids, we do so because we are within the environment
of the language. In high school and as adults we study languages
in books, but to truly learn a language and its application, the
student must be thrown into its environment. As a school for aspiring
professionals, the studio provides to its students that same environment
of real world application, rather than distant study.
- Pat Dunn
I cannot say enough good things about
Eric Zadan. His musicianship is one-of-a-kind; deeply impassioned,
creative, and virtuosic. His professionalism and skill are of
the highest caliber, and span many different areas of life. These
things are very true, and very valuable, but I believe the most
remarkable aspect about Eric Zadan is his astonishing ability
to turn beginning musicians into dedicated professionals, and
I have had a few other music teachers
other than Eric, namely at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
The instruction at Berklee is well organized, and the information
given is high quality. But Berklee is not where I learned how
to care. That was at the Jazz Arts Studio.
Eric taught me jazz theory, improvisation,
the whole nine yards. But what’s more is he instilled in
me a strong work ethic, a humble outlook, and a deep passion for
all my endeavors. When I was at a fairly early age, Eric taught
me what it means to work hard and achieve something. That kind
of instruction is priceless.
What made my time at the studio even
more compelling was the extremely supportive and positive peer
group there. Eric created an environment of equally dedicated
individuals who want nothing but to see each other do well. As
great as Berklee is, you won’t find that level of camaraderie
Having experienced other avenues of music
education, Eric remains at the very top of my list as a music
educator and as a person. I continue to apply to my life the
things I learned at the studio, musically and otherwise. Really,
my education with and Eric never ended when I left for Berklee.
Having such an extraordinary person as a close friend is an
on-going learning experience. With Eric in my life, I know I
will never be short of direction and guidance. But most importantly,
I will never be short of inspiration.
Guitarist, Composer, Boston
Eric Zadan's Jazz Arts Studio is a great
asset to the Dayton region. The studio is a hidden jewel that
more people need to discover. Once musicians discover it, they
will be amazed, as there is nothing else like it in our community.
I would encourage anyone who thinks they may be serious about
jazz to give it a try. Eric's Jazz Arts Studio is very demanding
but well worth the effort.
Former C.E.O & Chairman/Wright Health Associates, Civic Leader
The studio gave me confidence to not only to pursue my passions for music but also for life.
I can sum up my experiences with Eric
Zadan in two words. LIFE CHANGING. When I first met Eric I was
a headstrong kid with no real playing ability to speak of. I learned
that through hard work and the right attitude I could accomplish
my goals. I was always amazed that although Eric was not a bassist,
his knowledge of the instrument was immense. He has a deep understanding
of the instrument's function in music, how it should sound, and
most important how it should feel! Eric was the best bass teacher
I've ever had!
The skills I acquired in my years as a student went way beyond
just playing music. I believe the sense of responsibility and
professionalism I learned in the studio will help me succeed in
any endeavor I might undertake. Eric's constant push for his students
to learn what it means to really be prepared gives them a unique
respect for what it takes to accomplish their goals.
I look back on my years at the Jazz Arts Studio as some of the
best times of my life. It was never easy, but there is a deep
bond formed by working hard with others. I always look forward
to coming back to Dayton and hearing how well everyone is playing.
The musical growth is amazing!
Aerobatic Pilot, Bassist, Oakland
I think that in life, you encounter
people and places that affect and change you forever. Becoming
involved in The Jazz Arts Studio has had a life changing affect
In The Jazz Arts Studio, I have found
a network of people who genuinely respect and care for the art
form of music. As I entered I thought I was simply going learn
to play jazz, but the lessons I have learned go far beyond music…they’re
I think it’s impossible to say
too many good things about the peer group within the studio. It’s
always felt like a brotherhood to me. In the time I have been
involved, I have learned something from everyone in one way or
another. In times when I needed assistance there was never any
hesitation from any of them to help. My peer group is comprised
of the most driven and dedicated people I know. All of them are
products of a truly great teacher.
Studying with Eric has changed my playing
drastically for the better. I hold in high value everything I
have learned from him. I don’t feel I will ever master all
the lessons learned; they are life lessons that can always be
revisited and refined.
Thinking about my playing before the
studio there were so many things I was unaware of as a drummer.
Eric has shown me that drum kit is not just an “instrument”
to be played, but part of an overall musical context. It requires
thinking, awareness, integrating into the larger picture the band
creates, and it always has to groove.
I’ve always appreciated Eric’s
honest and intense teaching style. The times that I feel have
brought about the most growth were when he placed me in musical
situations that were challenging, if not beyond my ability. Those
moments were ones that brought about a confidence in me that was
I will always be a student of Eric’s.
He is more than a teacher - he is a mentor and more importantly,
I am a pianist and I have to say the
Studio has been a vital tool for me in all aspects of my playing.
The theory classes help you understand what you are playing and
how to compose your own music. I think the Studio is excellent
for serious minded musicians who want to become better musicians.
It is hard to express exactly how much
Eric and the studio mean to me, but I can say that the years I
spent there were the most educational I have experienced. There
isn't a day that goes by when I don't think of the studio or use
something I learned there. I can't imagine where I would be without
Within my first week at the Studio, I experienced more growth
musically than I did in the previous three months. I never knew
that with the correct instruction and a real drive to play better,
I could improve so quickly. Eric was able to explain to me what
my specific role as a drummer was and how I fit into the band
as a whole.
Possibly my favorite experiences in the studio were the times
when I could play with Eric. He would sit in from time to time
during rehearsals to illustrate a point to the band and over the
course of a tune my playing was pushed to its limits. I felt as
though I had become a better player in just minutes.
Within the studio, I found a friendly, fun, and open environment.
I was surrounded by people that had a real love for music and
who wanted to sound the best they could, I had never encountered
students like this.
The camaraderie between the students is unparalleled, and as a
result I found myself interacting with the most advanced students,
who were there to help me when I needed it. At the studio, students
who can help less advanced students, do, and are happy to. I think
the reason is most likely the sense of family there, and also
that those advanced players were once in the opposite position
and remember how much it meant to them to have someone there to
There are so many ways to describe Eric; he is a caring, fun,
professional, brilliant teacher and person. I developed a close
friendship with him during my time there. His interest is not
only in being a teacher but in being a friend and a mentor as
well. He wants to get to know his students as people and not just
as another student or musician to fill a spot in a band.
Overall, I think of the studio as a place that taught me to be
the best musician I could as well as to be the best person I could.
There no is denying the musical success
that all of my peers and I have experienced attending the Jazz
Arts Studio, but most important for me is the camaraderie I
have felt and the friendships I have made. Through challenging
projects, inspiring playing moments, or just going out for dinner,
I have walked away countless times a better player and a better
person. Eric and the rest of the studio has instilled in me
a desire to “think forward”, not only in my playing,
but in life. I am one of many that has received lasting values
during my time with Eric Zadan and the Jazz Arts Studio.
Through the vision and direction of
Eric Zadan, there is a place in the Dayton area for musicians
to sharpen skills and for fledgling musicians to use as an incubator
in which to grow musically. Eric once said, "Music performance
has no room for Mediocrity." This phrase has stayed in my head
for over ten years. Eric has installed in me an internal mechanism
that drives me to play with excellence as a standard not exception.
Though I may not overcome human error I will always strive to
perform at my best and to represent where I am musically, nothing
The evolution of my playing is thankfully never done and Eric
has helped me realize my limitations only so I may stretch them
Eric motivates by verbal instruction… finding what your pride
is based on… then destroying it. Eric has taught me to play for
the love of music rather than recognition, a truly liberating
In the Jazz Arts Studio, I have found others who are in different
places musically but all share in a very supportive atmosphere.
In this group I have found a place to move forward on my musical
journey in a community of musicians who share in my life-goals.
For that I thank Eric for having the vision and exhausting drive
to create something bigger than himself, the Jazz Arts Studio.
Studying at the Jazz Arts Studio has
been a great but humbling experience. Before coming to the studio
I had somewhat of a big head and Eric woke me up a little. I think
that is what's good about Eric. He tells you what you need to
know in order to grow instead of telling you what you want to
What I like most about the Jazz Arts Studio is that I get a chance
to play with and interact with other musicians a couple times
a week. There are some fine players at the studio and I feel privileged
to get to perform with them.
Joining the Jazz Arts Studio has been the best musical decision
I've ever made.
My experience at the Jazz Arts Studio gave me a deeper understanding of music far beyond notes and rhythms. These aesthetics transformed my performance and composition of music to a higher level of maturity that I would not have reached on my own.
Guitarist, Film Scoring Student, Los Angeles
When people ask me about Eric, the
only concise response I can come up with is, "Eric is definitely
the most unique person I know." I don't think I can accurately
articulate how much I've learned from him, both professionally
and personally, but I can honestly say that the majority of
who I am as a musician and a large chunk of who I am as a person
is a direct result of my experiences with Eric Zadan and the
Jazz Arts Studio.
Eric doesn't mess around and I like that in a teacher. "Good
enough" and "okay" aren't words you'll often hear
come out of his mouth. He demands excellence from us, and I respect
that because he demands excellence from himself. If you've ever
heard Eric play or worked with him in a professional situation,
I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Eric's been much more than a teacher to me. He's been more than
a mentor. Sure, he wants me to be the best player I can, but he
more importantly wants me to be the best person I can. He's been
the one person in my life who would get in my face, call me on
the carpet, and tell me what no one else would. He's helped me
to grow up, plain and simple.
The studio is about a lot more than just music it's a family.
You don't get that just anywhere. The camaraderie that Eric fosters
amongst his students is unlike any group atmosphere I've encountered.
Though there are a variety of skill and experience levels among
the students, everyone is generally very encouraging and supportive
of the others. Eric has instilled in us a genuine desire to see
each other succeed, and we have learned to look out for one another,
especially "off the court."
All in all, I wouldn't trade my experiences here for anything
in the world.
Pianist, Arranger, Las Vegas
I recommend Jazz Arts Studio to you
whether you aspire to be a professional or are a dedicated amateur
musician. I speak as a 60 year old amateur. Eric offers a wide
range of ways to improve your performance and knowledge of theory.
He is an extremely effective teacher. He hears you perform and
focuses you instantly on the strengths and weaknesses of that
performance. His advice runs across a wide spectrum of skills
-- theory, technique, listening, combo skills and motivation.
Lessons also go beyond the jazz genre. I have found work on classical
pieces to be a great way to improving jazz improvisation.
I take a private lesson and participate in a small jazz combo.
The combo is incredibly fun and a nice challenge -- both exhilarating
and relaxing at the same time. It is an added benefit that I can
see the improvement of younger players headed toward professional
careers. It's never boring at the Jazz Arts Studio.
Business Consultant, Pianist, Dayton
Technically, a "mix guy"
is an audio engineer. Odd as it might be, I don't consider myself
to be an audio engineer. I've never been through any type of
training or schooling for audio engineering and I've never been
under the tutelage of an experience, professional audio engineer.
I started playing piano when I was 6 years old. I've played
drums and piano in various groups and bands since the age of
14. During my studies in jazz piano at the Jazz Arts Studio,
Eric Zadan always stressed the importance of training your ear
to control how your hand and fingers shape the dynamics of each
phrase and how that phrase relates to the entire piece. This
discipline of listening is the connection between the music
and the emotion. It was then I learned the most important lesson
in music. There is only one master of technique, your ear. Its
not difficult to understand how those lessons build the foundation
of my work as a mixing engineer. I am the last one of the production
team to have complete control over the dynamics and the emotion
of the entire piece. It is a task that comes with great responsibility.
And one that I perform with passion.
Sound Engineer, Pianist, Nashville
Music is something that I hold very
high in my list of priorities, which is why I started studying
music with Eric two and a half years ago. It's very hard to explain
the development in my playing in broad terms without being conceptual.
Eric has brought my playing from being something that I work through
to something that works through me. He has made music almost a
spiritual experience for me.
The area that Eric has been most influential in my life is his
mentorship to me. Because of him, I am now able to think more
logically and rationally. Eric has been a great part of my life.
Without his influence in music, I wouldn't be the player that
I am today. Without his friendship and his role as my mentor,
I wouldn't be the person I am today.
Any serious student of jazz music, regardless
of their chosen instrument, can greatly benefit from the Jazz
Arts Studio. It is undoubtedly the finest learning environment
around. Eric Zadan's wonderful playing and teaching ability, combined
with a professional studio and like-minded students are altogether
a supreme educational experience. Simply put, you won't believe
how much you'll improve.
In my life, there have been many "teachers"
who have merely conveyed a subject or concept in a manor that
is easy to understand. While they have taught me arithmetic and
biology, their impact on my growth as an individual always ended
as soon as I stepped out of the classroom. "Mentors" on the other
hand empower you to work harder or think clearer beyond any of
your preconceived self-limitations. The effect of their "mentoring"
touches all parts of your life and they teach you lessons that
you'll never forget. I can safely say, Eric is one of my Mentors.
No doubt, I grew leaps and bounds as
a musician when I studied with Eric. But the non-musical lessons
in patience, humility, showmanship, the importance of emotion
and the thirst for knowledge have made me grow as a person. Although
I did not pursue a career in music, Eric still teaches me in ways
that immensely help my professional career.
I was sad to leave the studio - but because
of all that I gained in my short time there, I still consider
myself a part the "Studio Family". His commitment to the Studio
and to all his students (past and current) is unbelievable. For
all of the above and more, I cannot thank Eric enough.
Online Media Manager, Pianist, Columbus
The Jazz Arts Studio is an invaluable
resource for Southwest Ohio. Comprised of a serious, intelligent,
and fun group of individuals, the studio is beneficial to any
aspiring musician both for the supportive training environment
and for Eric Zadan, who offers helpful insights into not just
music, but life. My own experience at the studio has been immensely
helpful in shaping my playing and my taste.
Graduate Student, Guitarist, Boston
The Jazz Arts Studio is the passion
of a man, Eric Zadan, for music and the joy of seeing students
grow. The professional successes of several previous students
is one indicator. But the group dynamic and growth of his current
students really evidences what the program is all about. Each
week provides incredible opportunity: there is an individual lesson,
an in-depth theory/playing session, and a combo session. Additionally,
the dreams of gigging are encouraged and cultivated so that we
build professional confidence and competence. The demands are
great, as are the results. I've met a lot of great people in the
studio, and we've shared the joy of music and a lot of hilarious
stories and moments and helped each other out. It's what a tight
college music environment should be.
Aerospace Engineer, Pianist, Blacksburg, VA
Students come to the Jazz Arts Studio
hoping to take their musicianship to the next level. Eric's gift
lies in showing students the degree of dedication and attention
required to achieve goals beyond their expectations.
Zadan has created an atmosphere where
the only option for a serious student is to thrive. His students
have a solid grasp of where each note belongs and what is expected
of a professional musician.
Under Eric's instruction, I have begun
to truly hear music and to be deeply connected to every note I
Everything I know about music and
theory I owe to Eric Zadan.
Guitarist, New York City
In the nearly three years that I spent
studying with Eric, I went from being a decent high school saxophonist
with promise to a working professional musician in Las Vegas.
Eric spent countless hours teaching me how to swing, phrase, understand
music theory (both classical and jazz), as well as explaining
jazz arranging and improvisation. Eric also took a very important
role in my maturing as a young adult. We spent hours discussing
how to better handle all types of situations in life in order
to make me a more mature, well-rounded adult and professional
musician. I'm very pleased to say that I wasn't the only student
that received this important individual attention. Upon a recent
visit to the Jazz Arts Studio, it became clear that Eric continues
to be a very important role model for his students as a professional
jazz musician and an overall good human being. I owe my artistic
abilities and professional career to Eric Zadan, and will always
stress the importance of the Jazz Arts Studio.
Saxophonist, Las Vegas
Many people, when reflecting on their
lives, regret seizing an opportunity. They wish they had taken
that risk, saw that project to completion, or made that important
move. If your dream is to play music professionally, you need
not miss your chance.
As a student at the Jazz Arts Studio over the past few years,
I have seen my goal of playing music professionally become more
and more attainable. I am certain that without my involvement
in the Studio, I would be nowhere close to fulfilling that dream.
It was and remains a uniquely successful program that has produced
excellent musicians and, more importantly, excellent people.
I think of the Studio not as a "school", but as a "university".
Of course, the emphasis is placed on learning to play music. However,
the lessons I have learned range in subject from music skills
to business skills, to people skills, and many practical areas.
Becoming a better musician is often a natural result of becoming
a better person. No other music education program I know of acts
with this philosophy in mind.
While I have yet to become the player and the person I would like
to be, I know that I am moving forward. My only regret is not
joining the Jazz Arts Studio sooner. Carpe Diem.
Educator, Jazz Columnist, Doctoral Candidate, Cincinnati
I have been involved in quite a few
different musical settings. My experiences at the Jazz Arts Studio
have helped me in ways unique to anything else around. Whether
it's having the chance to do a studio recording project, playing
live gigs, or rehearsing in the student combos with special guest
players, the intense and professional atmosphere has helped me
not only in the area of jazz, but as a musician on all levels.
I only wish I could have gotten involved earlier!
Although my association with the Jazz
Arts Studio has been brief, I can sense the high quality of
the various programs, the dedication generated in the student
body, and the thoughtfulness and expertise that have fostered
this situation. I can only wish Eric Zadan and his students
much continued success in keeping the flame of the art of true
Internationally Acclaimed Saxophonist
Gordon Brisker passed away in September of 2004
I learned more from
Eric about making music and performing in a group than from
any high school or university music teacher before or since.
Eric teaches music the way an old world master passes on his
craft to an apprentice.
Band Director, Yellow Springs Schools
For the past several years, I have been
hearing enthusiastic comments from customers (who happen to be
young musicians) talking about what they are learning at the Jazz
Arts Studio. The more I talk to these students the more impressed
I am, because they are learning to "love the music"
and most importantly, they don't seem to be rushing. They appear
to be willing to take the necessary time to absorb what they learned
last, and improve as they go along with their studies.
There is an obvious "Q U A L I T Y" to the music and
technique they are experiencing. These are personal observations
of "an old" club owner.
As both a friend and a colleague in
the local professional musical venues, I have known Eric for quite
some time. I have always regarded him as my "first call"
pianist for shows which I have been the orchestra contractor and
have requested or suggested him to others in need of the finest
pianist in this area. As a result of knowing him in this manner,
we have had many opportunities to talk additionally about his
studio. I am extremely impressed with his total commitment to
his students and the depth of preparation he imparts to them in
every category imaginable as he gets them ready to enter the professional
world. This certainly includes their practice routines, reading
ability, improvisation, musical sensitivity to others in the group,
punctuality, and a keen sense of the business end to become successful.
I really know of no other studio that goes to this length in total
commitment! It has also been a pleasure to meet and work with
some of his advanced students on engagements when he feels that
they are ready to gain valuable experience from groups such as
the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Eric Zadan's studio has my
unqualified endorsement as the best of the best in the Dayton
Clarinetist, Saxophonist, Music Contractor, Springfield, OH
I'm really happy and just having a ball
trying to take music to the highest level I can. You know, every
time I think back to school, I get so damn jealous that you got
to seriously study with Zadan, and I didn't. There's not a day
that goes by that I don't apply something I picked up second,
sometimes first, hand from him.
[Note from Eric: Jeremy and I played a number of gigs together.
He wrote this in an email to former student Steve Dawson and Steve
forwarded it to me. This meant a lot to me.]
Bassist, Air Force, Colorado Springs, CO
I can highly recommend the Dayton Jazz
Arts Studio to any serious young musician who has the desire to
develop jazz improvisational skills. Eric Zadan has put together
an excellent jazz curriculum that includes private lessons, classroom
instructions, listening lab and most important an opportunity
to participate in structured jam sessions. I have known Eric for
many years. He is a superb jazz musician and a very knowledgeable
teacher. I would not hesitate to send my most advanced students
to be part of the Jazz Arts Studio family. They have always achieved
Saxophonist, Arranger, Retired Band Director, Morrow, OH
I regard Eric Zadan as one of Dayton's
jazz treasures. He is that rare combination of natural performer
and expert educator. His playing, which is always articulate and
contoured, draws you in like magic. Students who are fortunate
enough to study at the Jazz Arts Studio receive the highest quality
education from a true hands-on instructor--the kind of instruction
that conservatories aspire to offer.
Pianist, Chairperson, Fine and Performing Arts/Sinclair Community
It is always a great pleasure to perform
with Eric Zadan. He is a wonderful pianist and sensitive accompanist.
In addition, the progress of his students at the Jazz Arts Studio
attest to the quality instruction that he provides. His students
perform regularly throughout the Miami Valley and are a vital
part of the jazz community. I don't think I know of another teacher
who is as serious and passionate about the success of his students.
My hat is off to the Jazz Arts Studio. Keep up the good work!
Guitarist, Associate Professor/CSU,
Adjunct Assistant Professor/CCM
As a contractor in the area for many
events - Dayton Philharmonic, Broadway shows and various functions,
I have found that whenever I have hired Eric or his students,
they are always well-prepared, punctual, well-dressed, and are
very good players. I have never hesitated to recommend them to
Percussionist, Music Contractor, Dayton
I have the utmost respect for Eric Zadan,
both as a player and a teacher. While I have never "officially"
been a member of the Jazz Arts Studio, my association with Eric
has taught me more about improvisation than any other professional
or educational experience. I have seen the Jazz Arts Studio grow
from a weekly jam session to a curriculum that rivals most college
jazz programs. Eric's success as a teacher can be measured by
the number of his former students who are now thriving professional
musicians throughout the country. Any musician who is interested
in pursuing a career in jazz could not find better training.
It was a great experience for me to
play with Eric and his students. The warmth and camaraderie that
I found in the studio is only part of what it makes it so unique.
As a high school principal (Carlisle
High School) I deeply value the importance of Music education.
The lessons learned last a lifetime! It was a pleasure to watch
the growth of my son musically and socially. His participation
at the studio certainly has been a positive in his life. Eric's
passion and expertise in Music compliments his genuine concern
for his students.
My son, Lee Dynes, has been playing
guitar for about five years. In the beginning, he would practice
for long hours but was discouraged when his friends didn’t
share his passion. I will never forget finding the brochure for
the Jazz Arts Studio at Hauer Music Store. When we went to the
website, we were impressed by its professional content. Lee told
me, “this is what I want” and it’s been a great
ride ever since.
The Jazz Arts Studio has offered my son
training in the best way possible. Lee grew musically in a short
period of time because of the in-depth guidance from Eric Zadan.
Although I don’t have a music background, I could see that
Eric was a source of great inspiration and valuable information.
The positive effects of the studio have
been more than just technical in nature. After several months
at the studio, I realized Lee was no longer frustrated with his
music but rather confident and more productive. He found creativity
through the camaraderie of the other students, and he learned
humility from the experiences of playing in combos, repertoire
classes and concerts. Eric offered him detailed attention that
addressed his individual needs and challenged his level of playing.
Above all, Lee has found a group of people that share his drive
and passion for music.
Lee continues to improve because Eric
Zadan values perfection in all aspects of music. The demand for
excellence and hard work has brought out the best in Lee. I am
grateful that he has been able to have a mentor that models clarity,
discipline, and focus. Although my son taught himself how to play
guitar, Eric is teaching him how to be a high-quality musician
that will be successful no matter where the music takes him.
Parent (Lee Dynes), Tipp City, OH
My son has been playing piano for fourteen
years. Last year he began to attend the Jazz Arts Studio.
The studio is a top notch, professional organization that demands
excellence and dedication from its students. Every student participates
in a dynamic combination of individual private instruction and
collaborative work in groups with other students.
I cannot overestimate the dramatic impact the Jazz Arts Studio
has made on my son. His musicianship has improved at a tremendous
rate, and the demand for excellence is instilling valuable life
skills such as perseverance, commitment, and determination.
I highly recommend the Jazz Arts Studio to any dedicated musician
who is seeking to improve their musicianship.
A few years back when our son was 17
he was very excited about playing jazz. He had only been playing
bass for a short while when he came home and told us about "this
guy in Dayton that has jazz classes on Sundays". We were
somewhat surprised as our son, Ben, had never asked to take lessons
before... he had taught himself to play bass and was already teaching
others to play.
He'd started playing in the combo for the high school show choir,
then got into the school jazz band and also played for the school's
musical productions. Ben really started to like jazz which pleased
Dad who loved to play jazz himself. So we encouraged him to check
it out. So he went all the way up to Dayton to see for himself.
When he returned we knew he was excited and it wasn't long before
he wanted to study with Eric. We soon realized that our son had
developed a respect for Eric, which said a great deal to us because
Ben was at the stage in his "teen-age" life when he
felt was a better bass player than anyone else around.
As parents we wondered how long this would last, but it lasted
quite some time. Early on we were concerned about Ben driving
to Dayton and the fact that we'd never met "this Eric guy."
Then we got our first of many phone calls from Eric. That call
helped assure us that not only was Eric a musician, but that he
understood how to deal with and specifically challenge our "teen-age"
son. Ben responded and really worked hard to meet up to "Eric's
high standards." Eric in his own unique way did more than
just teach music; he truly cared about our son and his development
as a person in addition to his musical abilities.
We grew to appreciate Eric's straight forward approach and the
fact that he communicated with us directly. In the years our son
spent as a part of the Jazz Arts Studio we saw him improve his
skills and grow musically, but more importantly saw him mature
into a respectful and responsible adult.
We also appreciated getting involved with the activities of the
studio ourselves. The picnics in the summer and the studio open
houses during holiday seasons were always great. We no longer
live in Ohio and our son is now in California pursuing his dreams.
However, there still are times when we wish we were closer to
Dayton so we could drive up, like we used to, to see some of the
studio guys at one of their gigs.
Eric, thanks for teaching our son to pursue his dreams and not
take his commitments lightly.
Bob and Lynn Freelove
Parent (Ben Freelove), Santa Barbara, CA
If you or your loved one has musical
ability and the motivation to pursue music lessons in a serious
way, you have clicked on the right website. Eric worked for two
years with my son, Rob Stone, helping him learn and refine his
saxophone playing. Through Eric's own incredible teaching ability,
his dedication to his students, and his infinite patience, Rob's
talent blossomed. He won awards and, with Eric's help, obtained
a scholarship to UNLV. Rob is now a professional musician in Las
Vegas and loving every minute of it. The Jazz Arts Studio is an
unbelievable asset for Dayton area students, young and old. Because
of Eric's work with my son, I was able to hear some fantastic
jazz at the students' recitals. If you're lucky enough to catch
a performance by Eric himself, you'll never forget this amazing
man and his music.
Parent (Rob Stone), Lebanon, OH
At first, my wife Kim and I were hesitant
to let our son Lars drive into Dayton and spend so many hours
at the studio and be out so late. We had heard good things about
the studio and decided to try it for a while to see if this was
the best way to help Lars continue in his music training. While
the late nights were at times inconvenient, I am convinced that
Lars has received the best training he could have in the Miami
Valley. The obvious is you as his teacher Eric, have been able
to draw out his God given talent and instruct and train him musically
beyond our imagination; but beyond that, you have became a mentor,
and trained him how to be a musician. You have prepared him for
the hard work and long hours it takes to succeed in life. You
have taught him to market himself, to negotiate, to be a businessman,
to be professional. You have prepared him for the life he could
lead as a musician. And in the process, you have become a friend.
Looking back, making the sacrifices to get and keep Lars in the
Jazz Arts Studio has impacted his life and prepared him for a
career, and for that, we are grateful.