Azzara, Christopher D.

Pianist, arranger, author, and educator Christopher Azzara has made important contributions to advancing the understanding of creativity and improvisation in the music learning process. An innovator in music teaching and learning, Dr. Azzara is Eisenhart Professor of Music Teaching & Learning and Affiliate Faculty, Jazz Studies & Contemporary Media, and Woodwinds, Brass & Percussion at the Eastman School of Music. Teaching and performing internationally, he is the author of numerous articles, arrangements, and books, including Developing Musicianship Through Improvisation and Jump Right In: The Instrumental Series (GIA). His arrangements for instrumental and vocal ensembles include A la nanita nana for choir and chamber orchestra or piano (Oxford) and Concert Selections for Winds and Percussion (GIA). His research and publications are concerned with meaningful relationships among listening, creating, improvising, reading, composing, and analyzing music in vocal and instrumental settings. Dr. Azzara's work appears in journals such as the Journal of Research in Music Education, the Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, the Music Educators Journal, Early Childhood Connections, and in The New Handbook of Research on Music Teaching and Learning (MENC/Oxford) and Oxford Handbooks Online.

Azzara performs as a soloist and in various ensembles, including the Chris Azzara Trio, and has played on and produced many studio and educational recordings. In Rochester, he performs with freelance musicians, members of the Eastman School of Music Faculty, and members of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

An active teacher and clinician, he has presented and performed extensively throughout the United States, and in Canada, the Caribbean, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, China, Japan, and Australia. He has presented clinics and workshops in a variety of settings, including TEDxRochester, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, and leading music schools in this country and abroad.

Christopher Azzara is a native of Virginia and attended public schools in Fairfax County. After receiving a Bachelor of Music from George Mason University (1981), he taught instrumental music in the Fairfax County Public Schools and performed as a pianist in the Washington, DC area. He later received a Master of Music (1988) and a PhD in Music Education from the Eastman School of Music (1992). Prior to joining the Eastman faculty, Azzara was a professor at The Hartt School of Music, Dance, and Theatre of the University of Hartford, CT (1991-2002). Dr. Azzara joined the Eastman faculty in 2002 and was chair of the Music Teaching and Learning Department (then called the Music Education Department) from 2010-2018. In 2022, as an Eastman professor, Azzara received the University of Rochester's Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, which recognizes a record of distinguished undergraduate teaching and a commitment to helping less-experienced faculty colleagues and teaching assistants master their craft. In 2023, Christopher Azzara was named Eisenhart Professor of Music Teaching and Learning, the oldest endowed professorship at the Eastman School of Music.

Click here to see Christopher Azzara's TED talk: