Posted on 03/08/15 by in Fascinating Rhythms
By Jennifer Abelson
Chris Allison (Bay Village, Ohio), an 18-year-old baritone saxophonist with expertise in a variety of woodwind instruments, epitomizes the quality of music education and passion of The Music Settlement. He is a veteran, having started with The Music Settlement in our esteemed Early Childhood Program. However, it wasn’t until the good-ole recorder that he realized that he had found where he belonged--with music.
Q: Tell us more about how your love of music started.
A:Most schools have the "Recorder Karate" program, where the teacher would teach us a song on the recorder. If we could play it by ourselves, we would get a colored "belt" (string). As we progressed toward a black belt, the songs would get harder. So, by the time I entered fifth grade, I knew immediately that I wanted to play clarinet because I liked the recorder so much. The Recorder Karate program tipped the iceberg for me. I was addicted!
Q: Why J@MS?
A: One day in eighth grade, my Band Director expressed to me that I should look into taking lessons. Knowing the Settlement from preschool, my mom called Mr. Gould, the former head of the Music Department, and he recommended that we come visit the Saturday program Jazz at the Music Settlement. I remember sitting in with Mr. LeeGrand's Young J@MS ensemble and feeling so welcomed and amazed by the level of energy and talent. In the middle of their rehearsal, my mom called my step-dad and held the phone up to the room just to show him how cool it was. So I signed up for the program and started taking lessons with Mr. LeeGrand--I’ve been there for four years!
Q: What are your favorite things about studying at The Music Settlement?
A: One of my favorite things about studying at The Music Settlement is being around so many people that love music just as much as I do. I have made a lot of close friends there and we love playing with each other. They are my biggest critics and aren't afraid to tell me I just slopped all over that 2-5-1 at measure 6. They probably know my playing more than I do because we all have watched each other develop over the years. Another thing I love about The Music Settlement is the instructors. I look up to and respect my instructors, Mr. Holmes, Mr. LeeGrand, and Mr. Reynolds, immensely.
Q: Tell us why you respect your teachers so much.
A: They are crazy talented musicians and have so much experience in their field. But, just as important, all three of them are my biggest life instructors. For example, Mr. LeeGrand has taught me so much about respecting others, recognizing the people that care about you, staying away from trouble, making something out of yourself, and much more. Everyone that knows him, knows that he is the king of metaphors! He has a metaphor for every teaching situation you can think of. It's one of his many ways of getting his point across to you with his personality. As for Mr. Reynolds...that man has so much love to give.
Chris is playing at the Gala, either in a solo or trio. He’ll also be playing in the top small-group ensemble at J@MS, Dameron. But for Chris, the Gala is just the beginning. He graduates this May and plans to attend college this fall. He recently auditioned for Berklee College of Music, The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and hopes to study jazz performance wherever he ends up. And in his words, “Whatever happens I will make sure I give back to my family at The Music Settlement. Mr. LeeGrand always stresses to me, ‘Never forget where you came from.’”
Perhaps he’ll be teaching at The Music Settlement in a decade from now!
Jennifer Abelson is a writer for The Music Settlement