Ramsey Castaneda, DMA


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Education
USC, DMA, 2018
CSULB, MM, 2014
UNT, BM, 2012

Contact
ramsey.c@lacm.edu

Ramsey Castaneda, DMA

Performance, Education, and Scholarship



Education

USC, DMA, 2018
CSULB, MM, 2014
UNT, BM, 2012

Contact

ramsey.c@lacm.edu

Aims

De-mythifying and Deromanticizing Jazz Performance and Jazz History Education

Over the past few years my focus as an educator has turned to de-mythifying and deromanticizing jazz education and jazz history. Nietzsche’s aphorism, “They muddy the water to make it seem deep,” seems an apt description for much of jazz education (though by no means all). My mission is to elucidate jazz performance (improvisation, theory, etc.) and deconstruct notions of jazz and authenticity found in traditional (and untraditional) jazz history narratives using techniques from melodic embellishment for improvisation and "New Jazz Studies" in history and historigraphy. I'm particularly inspired by the writings of Krin Gabbard, Tony Whyton, David Ake, and others.

Reframing "Success" for the Music Major

Though I'm an eager participant in the performer-scholar/artist-teacher lineage, I champion the notion that there are a multiplicity of avenues for living a fulfilling and meaningful life in the “music world” (a la Howard Becker’s Art Worlds). Single-minded focus on performance as the primary measure of success is a detriment to individuals, music, and the communities in which young artists find themselves. Rather than exalting “superstardom” (or virtuosity, or releasing an album, or size of repertoire, etc.) as the benchmark for success, performance educators would do well to reframe the mission of the music major to the development and strengthing of relationships and engagement between musician and their local community via artistic citizenship.

Embracing Educational Research and Philosophy in Jazz Scholarship and Pedagogy

Education philosophers and music-education philosophers (including Dewey, Reimer, Alperson, Kivy, Elliott & Silverman, Bowman, Noddings, and others) have profound insights that can help us clarify and achieve the aims of music education. The pursuit of clear philosophical aims can be coupled with research produced in both quantitative and qulativate spheres in music, psychology, sociology, and beyond. I once read about an old saying: "He's educated, but it didn't hurt his playing none." Jazz education in particular has much to gain by simply opening itself up to the aims, practices, and research in its sibling fields, of philosophy of (music) education, assessment, sequence, and feedback. As soon as jazz educators and performers accept that jazz stands to gain from the fruits of its sister fields, not unlike Frederick Garbers statement that "The primacy of improvisation is in no sense encumbered or compromised by an awareness of the frames of discourse," the better.


Teaching

  • 2015 - Present
    Los Angeles College of Music

    Courses taught: Advanced Theory and Aural Skills, Pedagogy, Big Band, Combos, Ensemble Workshops, Chamber Groups, and Private Lessons

  • 2014 - 2018
    University of Southern California

    Courses taught: Private Jazz Lessons for Classical Saxophone DMA Candidates

    Teaching Assistant:

    • Business and Legal Aspects of the Music Industry
    • Introduction to the Music Industry
    • Basics of the Music Industry
    • Arranging for Popular Music Ensembles
    • The Music of Black Americans
    • Jazz History

  • 2017 - 2018
    Los Angeles Youth Jazz Ensemble

    Co-director of Los Angeles based high-school jazz ensmble organized by USC Thornton School of Music's Music Teaching and Learning Outreach Program.


Listen: Selected Performances


On Michael Bublé's 2018 album, , (pronounced, "Love").


A solo with Jon Hatamyia Group


A solo during the Paquito Rivera workshop at Carnegie Hall


A solo with Peter Erskine and the Disneyland All-American College Band


Saxophonist (all parts) on Disney's Making Today a Perfect Day for the TV show Best Friends Whenever


Saxophonist on Disney's
Sophia the First


Research


Explore some of my current interests. Click on a blue node to close its children.

Presentations

Documenting Jazz 2019

1) "Invoking Jazz: Meanings of 'Jazz' in Television, Film, and Advertising"

2) "Coltrane in Pop Culture"

Documenting Jazz 2019, Dublin, Ireland

CASMEC 2016

"Jazz Poetry: Jazz and the High School Literature Classroom," CASMEC, 2016, Fresno, CA

CASMEC 2017

"Expectations vs Reality: Experiences of Recent DMA Graduates," CASMEC 2017, Fresno, CA

Directing USC's Community Engagement Program's Los Angeles Youth Jazz Ensemble (LAYJE) in 2016 Directing USC's Community Engagement Program's Los Angeles Youth Jazz Ensemble (LAYJE) in 2016

"An Analysis Of Chris Potter's Improvisations During His Teen Years," JEN 2018, Dallas, TX

JEN 2019

"Jazz Music, Musicians, and Iconographic Depictions in Popular Culture and Mass Media," JEN 2019, Dallas, TX

JEN 2018

"Jazz in Popular Culture," JEN 2019, Dallas, TX

Forthcoming Research Presentation
Forthcoming Research Presentation

Online Education

As an undergraduate at the University of North Texas, I taught myself basic web-development to put online a Chris Potter discography that I had created. This first attempt at coding and publishing a web-project put me in contact with other jazz scholars and fans around the world and initiated meaningful musical connections that expanded my perspective of jazz beyond performance. During my doctoral studies, I took classes in interactive web and database development.

Over the past few years, I've enjoyed marrying my passions for music, theory, and history with code and pedagogy. Below are some of the projects I've created. I've created web-applications in PHP, SQL, Angular, Angular Universal, Vue, and of course JavaScript, HTML and CSS.

General Jazz History/Research
John Coltrane Discography
  • A searchable and sortable Coltrane discography that includes publically available transcriptions
Mapping John Coltrane's Life
  • A Google Street-View timeline of Coltrane's residences accompanied with biographical information and lists of recordings Coltrane made while living at particular locations.
Chris Potter Discography
  • A searchable and sortable Chris Potter discography that includes publically available transcriptions
Database of Jazz Representation in Popular US Media

Currently under construction
jazzinpopculture.com

  • A project to collect and catalogue representations of jazz in mainstream media. Particular attention is given to 1) the indexical significations of the word "jazz," particularly when spoken or referenced without accompaning audio or visual referents, and 2) the appropriation of John Coltrane as a symbol of "jazz."

  • I have presented this research at JEN 2019 (Reno, Nevada) and Documenting Jazz 2019 (Dublin, Ireland). Continuing this theme, I am co-presenting related papers on photographic tropes in protoypical historic jazz photographs at JEN 2020 (New Orleans, IL) and Documenting Jazz 2020 (Birmingham, England).
Music Theory Flashcard Games and Interactive Articles

In mid-2018, I migrated all of my music theory web-applications to music-theory-practice.com, which now features approximatley 28 interactive music-theory articles, tutorials, and flashcards. A sample of those is below.

Interactive Scale Degree Flashcards
  • Interactive flashcards featuring randomly generated questions in the form of "What is the X of Y," where X is a scale degree and Y is a key. For example, "What is the b13 of Ab," to which the user must respond with "Fb." Similarily, I also created Solfege Flashcards
Interval Vector (IV) Tutorial and Calculator
  • A tutorial on how to find the interval class vector of a collection of pitch classes. The calculator produces results in four formats: 1) a list of each interval pair, mod6, 2) standard ICV notation, i.e. < x x x x x x >, 3) a dynamically produced bar graph chart, and 4) notation of the collection on a treble clef staff.
Transposition Flashcards
  • These flashcards draw from an array of transposing instruments and ask the user what written pitch would X instrument need to play to sound Y pitch. For example "What note would an Alto Saxophone need to play to produce this concert-pitch note?" Alternative, there is a set of flashcards for the opposite, what is the concert pitch note of Bb Clarinet's note, C.
Early Chris Potter Solos

Currently under construction

  • Shortly after the online-publication of my Chris Potter discography in 2011, I became aquainted with a number of other Chris Potter afficanados and people close with him when he began playing professional as a young teenager. I have since aquired through these contacts a number of recordings featuing phenomenoual recordings of the young Potter. Analysis of a number of these solos was presented at JEN 2017 (Dallas, Tx), and the creation of a transcription book is in the works.

Photos

Ramsey Castaneda and Bob Mintzer at USC

LACM graduation with a student, 2019

Directing the LACM big band at the PCC Jazz Day Festival

Directing the LACM big band at the PCC Jazz Day Festival, 2019

With Bob Mintzer at the USC Honors Convocation

With Bob Mintzer at the USC Honors Convocation

Directing USC's Community Engagement Program's Los Angeles Youth Jazz Ensemble (LAYJE) in 2016

Directing USC's Community Engagement Program's Los Angeles Youth Jazz Ensemble (LAYJE) in 2016

USC graduation Portrait

USC Graduation Portrait

USC graduation Portrait

At the Newport Jazz Festival (CA) -- with Gordon Woodwin, James Morrison, Terell Stafford, and Willie and Becky Murillo

USC graduation Portrait

Community Engagement Award Cermony, USC

USC graduation Portrait

With Bob Reynolds

USC graduation Portrait

With Paquito D'Rivera

USC graduation Portrait

With Jiggs Wigham


Lessons

I currently have openings for private lessons (saxophone, improvisation [any instrument], and music theory) in the Pasadena, CA area. I provide in-home lessons. Please contact me through email if interested.

I'm additionally available for masterclasses and workshops with high schools and colleges. Contact me through email if interested.