If you’re interested in who I am in much greater detail than even I care to think about, please check out the unabridged biography page.
Saint Paul Public Schools (Band Director, General Music Teacher) 1999-present – I make my living as a music teacher these days, and I do love it! It’s very hard work, though, and it’s aging me more quickly than I’d like. But that life, right? My current gig at Humboldt High School on St. Paul’s West Side has got to be one of the most unique instrumental music program in the country. I teach five classes of beginners (2 bands, drumline, guitar, and strings) in grades 7-12, most of whom are recent refugees from war-torn countries around the world. Most have never had music classes before, and some have not even been to school until coming to Minnesota. Many of my wonderful students barely speak English, but we communicate through their desire to learn to play musical instruments, and my desire to teach them how. It’s exhausting, but very rewarding.
University of Minnesota/Duluth (M.M. Music Education) 1994-1998 - With my year old daughter in tow I went to meet with Dr. Judith Kritzmire at the music dept. at UMD. I had my doubts about starting a master’s program with such a small child, but she encouraged me and offered me a TA position, so off we went! I played lead alto in the jazz band with Mike Pagan, and tenor in the jazz combo with the wonderful George Hitt. I’ve been so lucky to have all these great mentors, and I don’t take their influences and support lightly. When I graduated with the ability to get a teaching license I moved back to St. Paul.
Also, during this time I started taking weekly lessons from Ed Berger – an hour or so of stories, advice and philosophy, and an hour or so of playing . I know those three years of sessions with Ed made me who I am as as musician now. He was also very supportive of my composing, even when I wasn’t very confident about it. I quit school with the birth of my daughter, Angela, and we moved to Wisconsin to live with my parents.
University of Minnesota (3 years as a Theory/Comp major) 1990-1993 – I was married to Tate Ferguson (another big influence on my life in music, and a really good person) when I finally got myself enrolled at the U of M. I learned a ton there from Michael Cherlin (theory), Alex Lubet, David Evan Thomas (composition) and Ron McCurdy (jazz studies)…and I got good grades, too (finally)! I played lead alto in Jazz I while I was there and that was an excellent experience.
While I was at the U of M, I started playing with IMP ORK, and a smaller group called BADFIT – both spear-headed by John Devine. There was something about the free music these groups played that I really connected with. It made sense to me in a way that no other music had. It was also during these years that I met Mike Krikava and Rose Bzrezinski and became part of the Nova Jazz Orchestra family. This is when I started writing for big band, and with each chart finished and played my knowledge of the craft grew exponentially. I owe so much to Mike for believing in me. My compositions are an essential outlet for me – I’m not trying to gain fame and fortune – I just want to write ‘em and get ‘em played. The musicians in the Nova Band are the best!
Moorhead State University (B.A. Saxophone Performance) 1979-1982, 1985-87 – I think I’m one of those people who should have waited a couple years before going to college. I barely passed my academic classes, but played in ‘Doc’ Al Noice’s stage band for 6 years. It was my gig. It was at MSU that I met one of my lifetime musical mentors, Todd Matheson. In 1987 I decided to move to New York as a nanny.