Alumnus: JEFF OSTROSKI, 2006

Jeff Ostroski

DEGREE: Bachelor of Music Performance



  • 2006-2008 MM Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media in Performance, Eastman School of Music
  • 2006-2009 Trumpet, Geva Theatre, Rochester, NY
  • 2009-2010 Lead Trumpet, Royal Caribbean Cruises
  • 2011-present Trumpet, JERSEY BOYS 2nd National Tour

Jeff Ostroski holds degrees from Lawrence University (BM, 2006) studying with John Daniel, and The Eastman School of Music (MM, 2008) where he studied with Clay Jenkins. Jeff played lead trumpet in the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Fred Sturm from 2002-2006, which won the Downbeat Student Music Award for Outstanding Performance by a University Big Band during his senior year. He then went on to play lead trumpet in the Eastman Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Professor Bill Dobbins from 2006 to 2008.

After graduating, Jeff began work at the Geva Theatre in Rochester, NY on productions of CABARET, SWEENEY TODD, and THE MUSIC MAN. During that time he also freelanced with many acclaimed artists including Harold Danko, Bill Dobbins, Rich Thompson, José Encarnación, Randy Brecker, Gap Mangione, Tito Allen, Frankie Vasquez, Lou Christie, Bobby Rydell, and more. Broadway credits include subbing on CATCH ME IF YOU CAN and FOLLIES. Jeff is currently playing on the Broadway tour of JERSEY BOYS, and is also a Cannonball Musical Instruments Performing Artist.

On a more personal note, I would like to say that my education at Lawrence was instrumental in preparing me for the career of being a professional musician. The opportunity to have played in orchestral, symphonic, and jazz settings under the direction of such talented and dedicated faculty has made the transition from student to working musician very manageable, and with few surprises. I am truly forever in debt to the teachings and musicianship of Fred Sturm and John Daniel, both of whom still answer every and any communication we have together. They have inspired me to become an eternal student, which to me is the "Lawrence Difference."

Alumnus: JACOB TEICHROEW, 2005

Jacob Teichroew

DEGREE: BM Saxophone Performance with Emphasis in Jazz Studies and BA Philosophy

JAZZ FOCUS: Saxophone


  • 2007 MM Jazz Studies, Queens College
  • 2007-present: Freelance musician, bandleader, and music educator in NYC
  • 2013-present: Music teacher, KIPP Infinity Middle School, Manhattan

I was attracted to Lawrence University after meeting Professor Steven Jordheim, who became my saxophone and musical mentor for five years. Despite my nominal focus on classical saxophone, one of my most memorable LU experiences was playing in a Jazz Ensemble rehearsal for the first time during my freshman year. My knees were shaking out of fear and exhilaration. I had played in big bands before, but something about the mix of brains, talent, and character among the musicians at Lawrence both jarringly and permanently drew my focus to jazz.

Aside from working with Professor Jordheim, whose voice I still hear in my head whenever I put on a reed, I got to study with a faculty whose lessons have stayed with me long past graduation. José Encarnación and Mark Urness helped me develop my improvisational voice, and I constantly get the urge to go back and show them what I can play now! Playing in LUJE under Fred Sturm showed me what it means to be a demanding bandleader, always with an eye on the minutia as well as the overall music arc. Studying arranging with Fred prepared me to continue my studies at Queens College where I earned a Master of Music degree studying jazz composition with Michael Philip Mossman and improvisation with Antonio Hart.

The demands of Lawrence, in terms of music, academics, and professionalism, are what prepared me to survive as a musician, bandleader, and music educator in New York City. After leaving LU, I was well equipped to hold my own in a severely competitive field. Today I work as a sideman in numerous ensembles. I lead a quintet for which I compose all the music, and I released my debut album in the summer of 2013. As of June 2013, I am a full time music teacher at KIPP Infinity Middle School, a charter school in Manhattan with one of the best music programs in the city. As a teacher, I’m motivated to give back what my teachers at Lawrence gave me.


Alexander Johnson

DEGREE: Bachelor of Music Theory & Composition with a Jazz Emphasis in Writing Skills

JAZZ FOCUS: Composition & arranging


  • 2012 - Present: Currently a student pursuing a masters degree in music composition at the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance

I entered Lawrence University officially as a classical voice & euphonium double-major, however, composition revealed itself as my true calling by the end of my freshman year.  I felt that the “jazz emphasis” degree that Lawrence offered (as opposed to a “jazz only” degree offered at other institutions) would develop me more wholly as a musician by requiring me to study several disciplines. 

At Lawrence, I studied jazz composition with Fred Sturm for three years, but had contact with him as a teacher/mentor for all four years.  From my sophomore to senior years, I studied classical composition with Joanne Metcalf and Asha Srinivasan.  I found that studying classical composition informed my jazz composing, and vice-versa.  I also studied classical voice with Karen Leigh-Post for the entirety of my four-year degree, and was able to sing for four years in the upperclassmen chorus and perform in an LU Opera production.  I was always busy, but it was absolutely thrilling to study multiple areas privately and to balance classical with jazz, composing with performing. 

I also found the jazz and classical composition departments to be endlessly accommodating to my own musical skill set.  Using my abilities in euphonium and voice, Fred helped me to carve out a path that used my strengths to fulfill the requirements and remain true to the spirit of the degree.  I was also fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of a number of unique and invaluable opportunities, most notably of which was the opportunity to compose a score for a brief film created by a member of the LU staff that documented the success of the More Light! campaign.

All of this is to say that I left Lawrence with a strong, cross-disciplinary musical skill set and an abundance of professional-level experience.  I must also add that the result of my degree was not just an enhanced resumé, but a myriad of life lessons and friendships with students and faculty that will be with me forever.  The Conservatory at Lawrence University does not simply produce musicians, but musical human beings who are adaptable, responsible, and intellectual.  In graduate school, I have felt immensely well-prepared in both life and music and have been able to pick up right where I left off in my adult journey, one that began at the unique and life-changing environment at Lawrence University.

Alumnus: JAMES HALL, 2007

James Hall

DEGREE: Bachelor of Music - Trombone Performance; Bachelor of Arts - Religious Studies

JAZZ FOCUSES: Trombone, jazz composition and arranging (though I wasn't a jazz emphasis student!)


  • 2013-present: Coordinator of School Partnerships at Third Street Music School Settlement
  • 2010-present: Trombonist with Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra
  • 2007-present: Trombonist/Composer/Bandleader with "James Hall Group" (jazz quintet)
  • 2009-2011: Jazz Author at
  • 2009-2010: Board Member, Spark & Echo Arts


  • 2012: Featured Composer/Performer, Chelsea Music Festival
  • 2012: Master of Arts, Jazz Performance, Aaron Copland School of Music
  • 2009, 2010: ASCAPlus Award for Composition
  • 2009: Runner-up, JJ Johnson International Jazz Trombone Competition
  • 2008: Third Place, Antti Rissannen International Jazz Trombone Competition
  • 2006: Honorable Mention, Carl Fontana International Jazz Trombone Competition
  • 2006: Downbeat Student Music Award (as member of LUJE)

I began my studies at Lawrence in 2002, where trombone professor Nick Keelan quickly set to work getting my trombone chops in shape. That first year was undoubtedly the most I improved musically in any single year. I recommend that all undergraduate music majors seek out a teacher like Nick - not just an accomplished performer, but a studied pedagogue. The trombone studio was strong, and I was able to glean a lot from upperclassmen, who recommended solos to transcribe, method books to check out, and fostered a learning community better than I've seen since.

Following graduation I moved to Vienna, Austria to study with Ed Neumeister, a master of the third stream and a hero of mine. I also founded my own jazz quintet, competed in international trombone competitions, and began touring as a freelancer around continental Europe. In 2010 I accepted a fellowship at the Trinity Forum Academy, where I renewed the connection between my two undergraduate degrees - religion and music, which culminated in my first project in New York City, The Serpent Speaks, which premiered at St. Peter's Church in Manhattan in May of 2010. Since then I have lived in New York City, earning a master's degree from the Aaron Copland School of Music, and freelancing in the jazz and world music scenes.

Again and again, my LU connections have paid dividends in my professional life. Jacob Teichroew (LU '06) hired me to write jazz reviews at and became the tenor saxophonist in the James Hall Group, my first quintet. Douglas Detrick (LU '06) moved to New York, where I was able to help organize a commission from him for Spark & Echo Arts, a non-profit run by Jonathon Roberts and Emily  Zempel (both LU '04). Now I'm taking over Jacob's work at Third Street Music School Settlement. The list of connections and mutually-beneficial opportunities goes on.

Alumnus: EVAN MONTGOMERY, 2009

Evan Montgomery

DEGREE: Bachelor of Music Performance

JAZZ FOCUSES: Performance, pedagogy, and composition/arranging


  • 2010-2013: Private instructor with a studio of 40+ students
  • 2010-present: Independent guitar repair technician
  • 2005-present: Leader, composer, and performer with a variety of jazz, pop, hip-hop, and avant-garde groups
  • 2013-2015: Enrolled to obtain a Masters in Jazz Guitar Performance from California Institute of the Arts

My experience with LU was both unique and somewhat typical. The diabolical Fred Sturm drew me into the program as a prospective student after I witnessed a Lawrence Jazz Ensemble rehearsal of Steely Dan songs that Fred had arranged. Lawrence proved to be one of the best possible environments for me to flourish as a musician and human being, not only because of the stellar faculty and organization of the program itself, but because of the personal and professional relationships I was able to develop there with the other students. In this I was not unique, as every other Lawrence graduate will tell you almost exactly the same thing.

Where I find my story and experience to be unique was my struggle to understand the expectations and responsibilities that I needed to place on myself in order to find happiness in life. I wish that I could go back to my younger self now and smack him around, as I realize how much potential time and energy I wasted my first year when I could have been far more productive in utilizing the resources Lawrence had to offer. It came to the point where I became so lost and depressed that I left the program for a full year.

The only reason I’m not lying in some alcohol-induced haze in a ditch somewhere today is because of Fred and my Lawrence jazz guitar professor Steve Peplin. Steve lives in Milwaukee and was able to help me get set up as a full-time performing musician. With those experiences and Fred’s support and guidance, I realized that I needed to go back and finish my degree, and that the best place for me to be was Lawrence.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that I had my fair share of screw-ups and bumps in the road while finishing my degree there, but I know I made the right choice to go back because I had teachers that led by example, peers that worked their butts off to improve, and an entire department that desperately wants to help you find your way in the world. I still go back to the lessons I learned from one-on-one composition lessons with Fred (who by the way is the only man on the planet who can tell you everything you’re doing wrong and still you leave feeling good about yourself). I still review notes from my private lessons with Steve Peplin and bass prof Mark Urness. I still work off of programs Fred helped me plan out from jazz pedagogy when working with a group lesson or with a student combo or big band. Lawrence helped me learn the skills I needed to function in the world and connect with my community.

Since leaving Lawrence I have completed a separate degree in guitar building and repair, have been teaching private lessons, performing and touring across the country, and am now leaving Minneapolis-St. Paul to pursue a Master of Music degree at CalArts with another group of students and teachers who will hopefully help me to reach a whole new understanding of expression through music.

Lawrence taught me that life is what you make of it, that you can find the good in almost anything, and that working hard is the precursor to finding something you love. For that alone my time there was worth it.

Alumnus: KATE (NELSON) HARDT, 2006

Kate (Nelson) HardtDEGREE: Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Trombone Performance

JAZZ FOCUS: Trombone, Jazz Ensemble, Pedagogy


  • 2006-2007: Director of bands and orchestras, Franklin Middle School, Green Bay WI
  • 2007-2009: Co-director of bands, Muskego High School, Muskego WI
  • 2009-2010: Master of Music Education degree, Northwestern University
  • 2010-present: Director of bands, Xavier High School, Appleton WI

I have been in love with the trombone ever since I played my first glissando in the fifth grade, and it was not long after that I knew I wanted to be a music educator. During my senior year of high school I started looking for a school to pursue my studies in education and trombone performance, and I found the trombone professor at Lawrence, Professor Nick Keelan. Nick offered to teach me lessons for free my senior year of high school and the positive experiences I had with him combined with the nudge from my then beloved Wisconsin All-State Jazz Ensemble Director, Professor Fred Sturm, I was sold on Lawrence. 

When I finished at Lawrence I went on to teach band for one year at Franklin Middle School in Green Bay, WI and then for two years at Muskego High School. After three years of teaching I decided to pursue my master's degree in music education from Northwestern University where I had the great fortune to continue my study of trombone and wind band conducting. Now back in Appleton, it is my pleasure to be teaching two high school bands, two jazz bands and music theory at Xavier High School. I have also been privileged to be invited back to Lawrence as a faculty member to assist with applied trombone studio lessons, sectionals and technique classes. 

Using the wisdom I gained and the resources I had access to from the Lawrence University jazz program, I have always felt confident that I could successfully start and/or grow a jazz program at any school. At Lawrence I had the opportunity to play trombone in the LU Jazz Band and the Jazz Ensemble where I was led by master jazz pedagogues Professor Nick Keelan and Professor Fred Sturm, and I work every day to rehearse my jazz bands the way that was modeled for me. In those two ensembles I also learned what great repertoire looks like, sounds like, and how to approach it in rehearsal so that my students are successful and motivated to improve. In Jazz Pedagogy class I studied Professor Sturm's "All-Ears" improvisation method, and it has helped take away most students' initial fear of improvisation and fosters a supportive environment where my students have fun learning to improvise. In Jazz Composition & Arranging class I learned how to structure music in the jazz idiom and have used these skills to compose and arrange music for my students every year.

The most valuable treasure of all has been the connection and support I have received from the jazz faculty. My bands have been able to attend the annual Lawrence University Jazz Weekend each year. Professor José Encarnación has served as a clinician with my jazz bands at Xavier High School and appeared as the guest artist for our end of the year jazz concert. Professor Sturm has been over to work with my jazz bands many times, has visited my composition class, and he has invited my jazz band to the LU campus as a demonstration group for his jazz pedagogy students.

While I was a student at Lawrence, I was not fully aware of the amazing jazz education I was receiving, but after being in the field of music education for several years I have learned how lucky I was to have worked with the Lawrence Jazz Faculty as a student. I am continually humbled to receive their on-going support as an educator. The value of a Lawrence University education is what propelled and prepared me towards my dream; I owe the school and the faculty a great debt of gratitude.

Alumnus: ELI WALLACE, 2009

Eli Wallace

DEGREE: Bachelor of Music, Piano Performance

JAZZ FOCUS: Piano and composition


  • 2011: Master of Music in Jazz Composition, New England Conservatory of Music
  • 2011-Present: Pianist/composer/ensemble leader, San Francisco Bay Area, CA

My time at Lawrence University began in the Fall of 2005, presenting a world of opportunities both academically and musically.  Having entered the University undecided as to whether I would complete my degree in the conservatory or in the college, the atmosphere at the conservatory quickly informed me that music, specifically jazz, was what I wanted to do with my life.  Through initial studies with Lee Tomboulian, my jazz piano skills were honed and supplemented by the one and only Mark Urness, LU bass professor.

After two years concentrating on my musical talents as a pianist, I began to develop a deep teacher-student relationship with the esteemed LU Jazz Studies Director Fred Sturm, who evinced my interest in composition.  He pushed me to write music for jazz big band and an extended work for Studio Orchestra during my ultimate year at LU.  Professor Sturm became the most important musical mentor in my life, accepting my risk-taking tendencies as a composer and thus allowing me to fully explore my compositional ideas.  The result: At Lawrence, I was privileged to be awarded the Pi Kappa Lambda Jazz Composition Award two years in a row, the Fred Herbolzheimer Jr. Jazz Studies Scholarship, and graduated Summa Cum Laude due to submission of an Honors Project for my studio orchestra composition “Pursuit of the Attainable.”  Because Professor Sturm elucidated my composition abilities, I was able to attend the New England Conservatory on a scholarship for the Master of Music Degree in Jazz Composition.  This pushed me even further into the world of writing music, studying with faculty members and taking on coursework in the classical composition department.  Currently, I see myself as a composer who incorporates many different musical idioms and influences into my writing from 20th century classical composition, to free improvisation, to jazz composition. 

After graduating from the New England Conservatory in 2011, I relocated to the Bay Area in California, where I was raised.  I have since become involved with numerous different projects as a pianist ranging from avant-garde improvisation, to modern classical music, to straight-ahead jazz, to rock music.   I am also pleased to lead my own project that consists of piano music written specifically for me to play.  As a composer, I have already received commissions for solo piano, jazz big band, chamber orchestra, and dance concerts; my first jazz big band piece was commissioned for Lawrence University's Jazz Weekend 2012. 

Lawrence University shaped the person that I have become as a musician and most importantly as a person.  Through the close interaction I had with professors to the many opportunities that the school provided during my student years and the opportunities that subsequently continue to emerge, I am forever grateful to this musically fecund and inspirational institution.

Alumnus: DOUGLAS DETRICK, 2006

Douglas Detrick

DEGREE: Bachelor of Music in Trumpet Performance with a Jazz Emphasis

JAZZ FOCUSES: Trumpet, jazz composition and arranging


  • 2006-8: Graduate Teaching Fellow at University of Oregon
  • 2008-present: Freelance performer, composer, educator and arts consultant; Artistic Director of Douglas Detrick's AnyWhen Ensemble


When I started at Lawrence in 2002, I had a lot of interests, and that hasn't changed. Then, and now, I'm interested in finding ways to integrate my interest in composing and performing my own music, literature, and teaching. While I was at Lawrence I was doing all kinds of things: trumpet lessons, jazz lessons, Jazz Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, composition lessons with Professor Joanne Metcalf, poetry composition class, as well as playing with my own groups and with groups led by friends.

After I finished my Master's Degree in Jazz Studies at the University of Oregon, I eventually moved to New York, where I performed, composed and also joined Dave Douglas' Festival of New Trumpet as a curator, board member, and performer. My new skills in arts administration have helped me start a growing arts consulting business that I really love. I help individual artists realize their ambitions by helping them raise money and improve the way they communicate about their work.

In New York I've gotten to perform with my AnyWhen Ensemble at the Jazz Gallery, and The Stone, and did some other fun things like playing at the Issue Project Room, and with Christian Wolff and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company at its farewell performance in 2010. I got to do a lot of great things, meet a lot of great people, and I'm glad I made the move here. But, after three years and the birth of my son, we are now moving back to Portland, Oregon where I hope to keep on doing what I'm doing now but to do it much closer to my family. Soon I'll be turning AnyWhen Ensemble into a non-profit organization in order to build up the infrastructure and continue doing bigger and better things with this group.

Alumnus: ADAM MECKLER, 2007

Adam Meckler

DEGREE: Bachelor of Music, Trumpet Performance, Jazz Studies Emphasis

JAZZ FOCUSES: Trumpet, Jazz Composition and Arranging


  • 2007-Present: Freelance Trumpeter, Composer, Arranger. Bandleader, Educator.

I came to Lawrence via another school. When I realized I wanted to do a jazz focused degree, I transferred to LU at the beginning of my sophomore year, excited to work with world renowned jazz educator Fred Sturm, among others. LU was everything I hoped it would be. It was advanced, fast-paced, challenging, and could rise to meet the demands of my curiosities. I was nervous about moving schools and starting over, but it ended up being one of the best decisions I've made. LU prepared me for what life in the competitive music industry is like. If I had to do it over, I wouldn't do it any differently.

Since graduating, I've slowly built my own music business from the ground up. A combination of creative ensembles, "jobbing" gigs, touring, teaching private students, copyist work, composition commissions, arranging, and clinician work make up the whole of a respectable income in music. With the skills I learned at LU and a little elbow grease, I've been able to work as a full-time musician for the better part of two years. That is, all the money I make is in music, nowhere else. A feat that might sound minimal, but truly is significant.

While at LU, I was a member of the LU Jazz Ensemble 1 for my full three years, and worked through the jazz track to learn about harmony, arranging, composing, and improvising. After graduation, a did a Master of Music in trumpet performance at the University of Minnesota where I focused on classical trumpet repertoire. It was there that I realized just how well rounded my education was at LU. Not only that, I've connected with many LU grads here in the Twin Cities. I've found our connection to LU keeps us working together regularly.

Currently, I am a faculty member at MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis and adjunct faculty in trumpet and jazz at Bethel University in Saint Paul. I hold a once-a-month residency at the Artists' Quarter, a local jazz club, with my 18-piece big band, The Adam Meckler Orchestra. I frequently tour with my wife's band The Jana Nyberg Group, The Jack Brass Band, and a band three other LU grads and I started called Lulu's Playground (Lulu, for Lawrence University...I know, we're nerds). All of which would not be possible without the guidance from my mentor, and grossly misguided football fan, Fred Sturm.


Chris Misch-Bloxdorf

Degree: Trombone Performance with an Emphasis in Jazz

Jazz Focuses: Trombone, Composition and Arranging

Life After Lawrence:

  • Pursuing Master of Music in Jazz Studies degree at NYU

As I reflect upon my time spent at Lawrence, I genuinely feel that choosing to attend a small liberal arts school in the middle of Appleton, WI was the smartest choice that I've made not only as a musician, but as an individual. I was fortunate enough to spend four years in the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Fred Sturm. The amount of dedication and interest that Fred invests in his students has been paramount in the development of my jazz education. Not only was I exposed to traditional big band style, but in addition Fred allowed the band to explore contemporary jazz from around the world. The emphasis on versatility is a key component to the uniqueness of the LU program. In addition to the repertoire, I was fortunate enough to perform and work in direct contact with current jazz "superstars" such as Bobby McFerrin, John and Gerald Clayton, Kurt Elling, Conrad Herwig, Brian Lynch, and many others.

Lawrence also allowed for me to be expansive in regards to the small groups that I was involved in. I was in several jazz combos but I also tried to be involved in as many extra-curricular groups as I could, which ranged from brass band to klezmer and from experimental improvisational music to hip hop/jazz fusion. The faculty members were supportive of the various musical small groups that were developed.

I feel as if I arrived at LU during the transformation of the jazz department wherein two faculty members that electrified the program were added: pianist Bill Carrothers and saxophonist José Encarnación. I was able to pick and choose between an incredible lineup of faculty that were willing to invest as much time inside the office as they were outside. Frequently I spent time late night in the Conservatory listening, talking, and playing music with the faculty simply because they enjoyed their time with the students. It became not only a period of musical growth, but philosophical development as well. 

As I begin my new journey in New York City every day I seem to have a further appreciation for my time at LU and the unique environment that encapsulates all different types of musicians. I greatly appreciate that Lawrence professors Nick Keelan, Mark Urness, Dane Richeson, Marty Erickson, and John Daniel had a wealth of knowledge in both jazz and classical idioms, allowing for a breadth of approaches to help with student musical development.

As I was approaching the end of my time at LU, I began auditioning for graduate schools and was fortunate enough to gain acceptance into the universities to which I applied. I chose NYU, but I cannot credit enough the people that motivated me as I progressed through the jazz program at LU. A student of Fred's a few years ahead of me once said, "When you have a teacher that makes that profound of a difference in your life, the only thing you can do to repay them is pay it forward." I feel that way about all of the faculty members I was closest with in the jazz department at LU, and I hope to repay them as best I can throughout my career.

Alumnus: DAN MEINHARDT, 2010

Dan Meinhardt

DEGREE: Bachelor of Music in Performance

JAZZ FOCUS: Saxophone


  • 2010-2012: Graduate Teaching Fellow, University of Oregon, School of Music
  • 2012-Present: Freelance Performer, Educator, Composer

As a freshman at LU in 2006, I didn’t know what I didn’t know about jazz or improvising or even music. I can best describe my experience at LU as truly being immersed in the sea of knowledge. The lack of a graduate program and small student-to-teacher ratio at LU really were the catalysts that gave me opportunities to learn, both at LU and after.

On the first day of welcome week, I met and played with other students that would go on to become my best friends and musical confidantes. We ended up playing in numerous groups together as students, and have continued professional relationships past graduation. In 2012, I recorded my first record of original music, using musicians from LU. As a member of LUJE and LU small groups, I was fortunate to perform alongside some of my musical idols, and was able to create lasting relationships with them as well. From then-students with whom I still play, to professors whom I still consult, to guest artists with whom I keep contact around the country, the relationships I made at LU stand out most to me.

By the time I was done at LU, I could even count my professors among true friends. Professors Steven Jordheim and Tom Washatka helped to hone my skills as a saxophonist, while Mark Urness, Lee Tomboulian, and Dane Richeson pushed me in all directions to find my true interests. Director of Jazz Studies Fred Sturm was the glue who tied everything together. He gave me an introduction to jazz composition and helped tie together my classical and jazz studies, giving me a well-rounded approach to music and music education.

Lawrence prepared me in ways I couldn’t have imagined for graduate school in music when I attended the University of Oregon in 2010. I immediately leapt into the performing scene of Eugene OR and was welcomed as a knowledgeable, skillful musician. In my role as a Graduate Teaching Fellow, I was able to draw on my jazz and classical training to teach ensembles, lessons, and classes to my own students. After spending two years in one of the best jazz programs in the country, I moved to Chicago to pursue a career as a freelance musician. Because of my experiences at Lawrence, I have again been fortunate to be welcomed as a strong musician in the large musical scene of Chicago. I have nothing to thank more than my experiences at Lawrence. As students, we used to joke that you could never escape the “Lawrence Bubble.” As it turns out, each of us at Lawrence has our own bubble that just keeps expanding.

Alumnus: CARL KENNEDY, 2011

Carl Kennedy

DEGREE: BM in Theory/Composition with Jazz Emphasis

JAZZ FOCUS: Composition/Arranging and Piano



  • Private Piano Instructor
  • Freelance Jazz Pianist/Composer
  • Leader/Founder of “Carl Kennedy Large Ensemble”

I entered Lawrence University in 2006 with the intention of perusing a bachelor's degree in trumpet performance. However, I found myself struggling technically on the trumpet and returned my focus to my first instrument, the piano. At the same time, I began to study jazz composition and arranging with Professor Fred Sturm. Professor Sturm and the Conservatory administration were very open and accommodating in helping me transition to a Major in Theory/Composition with an Emphasis in Jazz. 

In addition to jazz coursework, I was required to study classical composition. Although I was a bit nervous entering into the composition studio as an upperclassman, my experience was incredibly positive. I had the opportunity to study with professors Joanne Metcalf, Asha Srinivasan, David Dies, and John Mayrose. I had multiple pieces programmed on the New Music Recitals and was a member of CLU.  This experience was invaluable as it highlighted certain “jazz crutches” and pushed me into unfamiliar and uncomfortable places as a composer. 

After Lawrence, I completed a Masters Degree in Jazz Composition at DePaul University. I still live in Chicago and work as a jazz pianist and private teacher. I have had the opportunity to perform and record all over Chicago as both a sideman and as a leader playing original music.

Alumnus: SUMNER TRUAX, 2012

Sumner Truax

DEGREE: BM Saxophone Performance and Music Edducation

JAZZ FOCUSES: Saxophone, education


  • 2012: New York Jazz Academy
  • 2012-2013: Private Studio Teacher
  • 2013- present: Eastman School of Music MM and teaching assistant

Lawrence has been one of the best investments I've made thus far in my life. Coming into LU as an eighteen year-old kid, I had almost no idea what I wanted to do. I knew I liked playing saxophone and thought that I might as well keep doing it. 

At Lawrence I was fortunate enough to rub shoulders with several faculty members who have shaped everything musical about me. Fred Sturm was inspiring in his rehearsals, giving the ensemble incredible opportunities and always ensuring that we rose to the occasion. David Becker taught me to think differently about being a conductor and educator. I still remember a moment in class when he worked with someone who was conducting Schubert Symphony 5, and said "you must hear the music in your head the way you want it to be played."  He then proceeded to conduct one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen in silence. Despite what I thought when I was eighteen, I didn't know much about saxophone. Steve Jordheim fixed that almost immediately. He has affected me more personally, musically, and professionally than any other professor with whom I've had the privilege of working. 

At Lawrence I was exposed to excellence in so many areas, not only in music, but also in math, political science, biology, and English. Lawrence really afforded me the option to engage my whole being in a variety of things that interested me. Lawrence doesn't just train musicians to be musicians, but it trains people to be actual people, who are interesting, dynamic, and engaged.

Alumnus: PAUL DIETRICH, 2010

Paul Dietrich

DEGREE: Bachelor of Music, Trumpet Performance – Jazz Emphasis

JAZZ FOCUSES: Trumpet, jazz composition


  • 2012 Master of Music, Jazz Studies. DePaul University
  • 2012 to present: Freelance trumpet and composition work, private trumpet lesson instructor

Entering college, I had never really considered doing anything other than music as a profession, and Lawrence certainly provided outstanding training for that. Under the guidance of professors John Daniel and Jeff Stannard, I was able to develop a strong fundamental base for trumpet playing (something I was sorely lacking as a freshman), and more importantly, arm myself with the knowledge of how to continue to improve once I was out of school. I had outstanding jazz training from teachers such as Mark Urness. Fred Sturm, who I am convinced is one of the best teachers in the world, taught me how to play in a jazz ensemble, run a jazz ensemble, and sparked an interest in jazz composition that would turn me into a serious writer after I graduated. I also had wonderful opportunities to play in outstanding classical ensembles with Professors Andrew Mast and David Becker – opportunities I may not have had in many other places.

What I have realized since I left was how well-rounded Lawrence students came out, specifically musicians. Since I graduated just over three years ago, friends of mine have gone on from the Lawrence Conservatory into law school, into medical school, and into Major League Baseball front offices. As musicians, I know many people working professionally, who have recorded their own jazz albums, or are getting trained as doctoral students, or have played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

I was more than prepared to continue on and do graduate work in jazz, where I played in the DePaul Jazz Ensemble, one of the country's premiere college big bands, all while writing lots of my own music for large and small ensembles and leading my own jazz quintet. I have also been teaching private trumpet students, passing on much of the knowledge that I got from my own teachers at Lawrence. I really feel that Lawrence's emphasis on a diverse education helps to develop outstanding musicians and empathetic, intelligent people.

Alumnus: BRIAN COURAGE, 2012

DEGREE: Bachelor of Music, Bass Performance (Jazz Emphasis)
JAZZ FOCUSES: Bass, composition / arranging
2012 - present: 

  • Freelance bassist / composer based in Minneapolis, MN. 
  • Co-leader of Courageous Endeavors (jazz quartet), Mountain King (jazz bass trio).


As an impressionable high school student in New York, I was conned into joining the Sturm sphere of influence before I knew what hit me. My orchestra teacher set me up with a few different private bass instructors, the last one being Ike Sturm, Fred's son, who was based in Brooklyn at the time. I was studying classical repertoire exclusively at this point. I visited Lawrence during my junior year to take a lesson with bass professor Mark Urness and was blown away by his insightful feedback. Similarly, when I came back to audition, it was much more of a relaxed lesson than a nerve-wracking performance. I was also accepted into a few other conservatories on the East coast, but the combination of getting to study with Mark and having the ability to walk outside between buildings on campus made Lawrence the clear choice. (I won't name names, but suffice it to say that students at some other conservatories don't share the privilege of the latter.)

Mark became the next major guiding force in my musical development. He helped me sort out a host of problems with my technique, exposed me to a wide variety of classical repertoire, and always had a short, sweet, and thought-provoking answer for whatever musical crisis I was moaning about at any given time. Shadowing Mark as he went from solo recitals to touring musicals to backing national jazz artists helped me to better understand the broad spectrum of opportunities available to a professional bassist.

Speaking of that spectrum, the conservatory at Lawrence provided a uniquely integrated environment for studying classical and jazz music simultaneously. I became more and more interested in jazz as my time at Lawrence went on, but I maintained a strong desire to continue my classical studies throughout. I couldn't have asked for a better pair of ensemble leaders to realize this balance than David Becker and Fred Sturm. Both of these titans were extremely knowledgeable about the traditions of their respective repertoire and had an incredible way of getting their ensembles to respond to their ideas. What set them apart as a team was their affinity for collaboration. The joint studio orchestra performances (most notably the Migrations concert with Bobby McFerrin) were definitely some of my most memorable experiences. (As the LSO stage crew coordinator, figuring out the stage layout for that concert was also one of my most memorable headaches.) I was extremely privileged to get to work with Professors Becker and Sturm individually as well.

My tenure in the LSO and LUJE completely reshaped my ideas about playing as a member of an ensemble. However, before joining LUJE, playing in IGLU was the missing link that helped me translate what I learned from orchestral playing into an improvised setting. Former Lawrence Fellow John Mayrose helped me to expand my thinking and find the common ground that I could use to make better music in any ensemble. Getting to study and play with José Encarnación and Bill Carrothers during my final year at Lawrence helped me to solidify the concepts that I had honed in various small groups and better prepare myself for playing professionally.

Since moving to Minneapolis, I have made a full time career out of performing. With some assistance from Adam Meckler '07 and Evan Montgomery '09, I was able to get connected with many of the top call players in town very quickly. One year later, I've become something of a regular performer at the Artists' Quarter, backing just about all of my favorite local musicians as well as national artists like David Hazeltine, J.D. Allen, and Walter Smith III. I am consistently amazed at the diversity and originality of the music scene around the Twin Cities given the population. I've played with small groups, big bands, funk bands, rock bands, a completely improvised hip-hop group, a church band, and an orchestra to boot. With all of this under my belt in the first year, I look forward to seeing what else these Cities have to offer.

ALUMNUS: Ken Wiele, LU Class of 2011

Ken Wiele

DEGREE: Bachelor of Music Education and Trombone Performance

  • 2011: Long Term Substitute Teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in Appleton, WI
  • 2012 - present: Band and Orchestra Director at The Brompton School in Kenosha, WI
  • 2013 - present: Adjunct Jazz Trombone Teacher at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
  • 2013 - present: Co-director of the Indian Trail High School Jazz Ensembles

I obtained my Bachelor of Music degree from Lawrence University in both Music Education and Trombone Performance in 2011. Upon graduating, I pursued a career teaching elementary and middle school instrumental music in the public school system in Appleton and Kenosha. Working at the middle school level, I found that I sincerely enjoyed the personalities and quirkiness of that age group. I have been a jazz enthusiast since an early age and continue to pursue that interest. After two years performing for various events in southeastern Wisconsin, I was asked to teach jazz trombone at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. I also co-direct the four Indian Trail High School Jazz Bands with my father. 

In my experience, it was the personal connection with the faculty that made Lawrence special. Though I didn't realize it at the time, LU's Freshman studies course with John Dreher changed my conceptual framework about how the world worked and encouraged me to "grow my mind." Whenever I left that class I felt like the critical thinking I had been used to doing in the past had been like fifth grade tee ball practice and that this was the major leagues. Nick Keelan and Fred Sturm have my sincere gratitude for helping me to become a better musician and a better human being. Being able to learn from their master level pedagogy and real-world experience as both performers and pedagogues is something that I'll always be grateful for. Presently, I strive to emulate the way I saw them run rehearsals and work with people. Fred and Nick also helped me in immeasurable ways after Lawrence. They gave me advice and free lessons after I graduated to help me prepare for upcoming auditions as well as recommending me for teaching gigs. Their support through Lawrence and beyond has been an unquantifiable gift and I wouldn't be where I am today without them.