Christopher Azzara

Pianist, arranger, author, and educator, Christopher Azzara has made important contributions to advancing the understanding of creativity and improvisation in the music learning process. An innovator in the area of music teaching and learning, Dr. Azzara is Professor and Chair of Music Education and Affiliate Faculty of Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media at the Eastman School of Music. Teaching and performing internationally, he is the author of numerous articles, arrangements, and books, including Developing Musicianship Through Improvisation, Creativity In Improvisation, and Jump Right In: The Instrumental Series (GIA). His arrangements for instrumental and vocal ensembles include A la nanita nana for choir and chamber orchestra or piano (Oxford), and Concert Selections for Winds and Percussion (GIA). His research and publications are concerned with meaningful relationships among listening, creating, improvising, reading, composing, and analyzing music in vocal and instrumental settings. Dr. Azzara’s work has appeared in journals such as the Journal of Research in Music Education, the Music Educators Journal, Early Childhood Connections, and in The New Handbook of Research on Music Teaching and Learning (MENC/Oxford). He performs as a soloist and in various ensembles, including the Chris Azzara Quartet, and has played on and produced many studio and educational recordings. In Rochester, he performs with free-lance musicians, members of the Eastman School of Music faculty, and members of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. An active teacher and clinician, he has taught and performed extensively throughout the United States, and in Canada, the Caribbean, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Japan, and Australia. He has presented clinics and workshops in a variety of settings, including TEDxRochester, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and leading music schools in this country and abroad.

Christopher Azzara is a native of Virginia and attended public schools in Fairfax County. After receiving the Bachelor of Music degree from George Mason University, he taught instrumental music in the Fairfax County Public Schools and performed as a pianist in the Washington D.C. area. He later received a Master of Music and a Ph.D. in Music Education from the Eastman School of Music. Prior to joining the Eastman faculty, Dr. Azzara was a professor at The Hartt School of Music, Dance, and Theatre of the University of Hartford, CT.


Chris Teal

A graduate of the Eastman School of Music (MM ’09) and Whitworth University (BA ‘05), drummer Chris Teal is the co-Director of the Institute for Creative Music.  One of the most in-demand drummers in the Rochester, NY area, Chris is a member of the IfCM Collective, Dave Rivello Ensemble, Mighty High and Dry, John Nyerges Trio, and Silver Arrow Band, and has released two albums with the band Quintopus on ears&eyes Records. In addition to his active career as a performer, Teal strives to build new opportunities for students to experience the arts by teaching improvisation for all, aural learning, and student leadership through the Institute for Creative Music.  Along with other Teaching Artists from the Institute for Creative Music, Teal has presented workshops and performances throughout the United States, and was recently a featured presenter at the 2015 TEDxFlourCity conference. Raised in Spokane, WA, Chris maintains a teaching studio in Rochester, NY where he lives with his family.


Mark Gowman

Mark Gowman has been the 7-12 instrumental music instructor in the East Rochester School District since 2001. Originally a classical trumpet player who doubled as a rudimental drummer, Mark has developed through his career into a multi-instrumentalist that teaches a wide range of genres and pedagogies. A graduate of the University of Michigan and the Eastman School of Music, Mark regularly presents workshops on folk music and music education at all levels. At East Rochester, Mark directs seven ensembles including 6-12 bands and jazz bands, but is best-known for his work with Róisín Dubh, ER’s popular Irish music program and ensemble. In this program, students perform the traditional music of Ireland and other Celtic regions, learn the music and techniques through aural pedagogy, and create their own arrangements.

On the opposite side of the music education spectrum, Mark also serves as the percussion caption head for the Victor HS Marching Blue Devils, and as director of the Victor Indoor Percussion Ensemble.

When not teaching or making music, he loves spending time in the outdoors, traveling with his family, and hiking, kayaking, and riding his mountain bike. He crashes much more than he should.