I began playing clarinet in 1977 and saxophone in 1980.
Initial studies in both instruments were with Bonnie Harris, an excellent woodwind teacher who worked in junior high schools across Chicago's northern suburbs. I was introduced to the American style of classical saxophone by Doreen Petersen, a graduate student in the studio of Frederick Hemke at Northwestern University.
In high school I studied clarinet with Julie DeRoche, who was studying with Robert Marcellus at Northwestern University. She now teaches clarinet at DePaul University in Chicago and is serving as president of the International Clarinet Association.
In 1981 I switched to the tenor saxophone. I added soprano saxophone the following year, and added baritone and bass saxophones during college. Tenor and alto remain my primary saxophones.
Saxophone studies continued with William Street of Northwestern University's saxophone program, and Wayne Richards, the instructor at Roosevelt University. Both had been award-winning students of Jean-Marie Londeix.
I spent three summers at the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan, now known as the Interlochen Arts Camp. There I played clarinet, Eb clarinet, and contra-alto clarinet in band, and tenor saxophone in jazz ensemble. The guest conductors there included many of the top band directors from across the country, including Frederick Fennell, John Paynter, and others of this caliber.
In 1985 I attended the annual week-long Saxophone Institute held at the University of Louisville. This experience opened up a window into a different style of classical saxophone playing. I returned five or six times, while the institute was at Louisville and once while it was held at Transylvania University in Lexington. The institute introduced me to interesting saxophone figures such as Paul Cohen, Walter Hartley, John Moore, Lee Patrick, Patrick Meighan, Danny Schmidt, Tom Gorin, and Connie Frigo.
for one year with Fan Lei, a student of David Shifrin;
and during my senior year, with David Shifrin, who succeeded Keith Wilson as the clarinet teacher at the Yale School of Music.
I toured with the Yale Concert Band (Japan, England, Italy), the Yale Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall, England), the Yale Glee Club, and the Yale Russian Chorus (U.S., Ukraine) and was a member of the Yale Jazz Ensemble, the Battell Chapel Choir, and even for one semester the infamous Yale Precision Marching Band.
In 1988-89 I played clarinet in the North Shore Concert Band, directed by John Paynter.
In 1989 and 1991 I attended saxophone workshops held by Sigurd Raschèr in Hattiesburg and Atlanta, respectively.
In fall 1991 I offered to host the 1992 workshop. Raschèr accepted, and the 1992 Sigurd Raschèr Saxophone Study Week at Yale University was born! Planning and running the workshop was a full-time job for me from the time I completed my B.A. in December 1991 until the end of the week-long workshop in June 1992.
The workshop was a success. 65 saxophonists attended from across the U.S. and 4 other countries. The workshop featured nightly recitals by guest artists such as John Moore, Paul Cohen, Lawrence Gwozdz, and the Atlanta Saxophone Quartet.
From 1986-1988 and 1990-1994 I taught private lessons (saxophone and clarinet) each week to between 2 and 5 students. My first student, Wayne Escoffery, started lessons on tenor at the age of 13. He later attended the Hartt School of Music and now has a prosperous jazz career. Two of them, Alison Apfel and Jen Mattson, attended the Raschèr study week. This was very rewarding not only because I got to watch these beginners turn into intermediate and later advanced players, but also because it gave me the opportunity to pass on all the expertise I'd received from my many dedicated teachers. Joanne Klein, another successful student on both clarinet and saxophone, went on to major in clarinet at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
In 1998 a hundred alumni of the Yale Glee Club formed the Yale Alumni Chorus for the purpose of taking a concert tour to China. There we performed concerts in three cities and saw many sights such as the Great Wall.
Since 2000 I have been teaching clarinet and saxophone in Greenwich and Stamford, Connecticut. I currently have space for a few more students.