There are many outstanding and uniquely wonderful players, teachers, and writers who serve as the heroes in the music-learning and music-making world. Then, among those exemplary artists and educators, there is a small, finite group we hail as THE MASTERS: they represent the gifted hearts-and-minds who go far beyond the scripted curricula; and they create magical moments, time and time again. Antonio García is one of those rare individuals who knows exactly the right thing to do at precisely the right moment. As a result of this innate talent, he continues to serve as a heroic model for all who proudly wear the title of MUSIC EDUCATOR.

Tony’s contributing efforts and energies do not stop at the end of a class or a rehearsal: he is always searching for and discovering new avenues of communication to advance our art form to next level of excellence. He is constantly “raising the bar” and adding to the growing library of valuable tools that are wanted and needed by all. Professor García not only “walks the talk,” but he is carving new and exciting pathways as a part of his endless quest for quality jazz education.

In your hands you are holding a one-of-a-kind great resource. Jazz Improvisation: Practical Approaches to Grading is a book whose time has come. In day and age of assessing every facet of learning, it is imperative that we are well-versed in a language of evaluation that is understood by students, colleagues, and administrators. Perhaps there is no greater challenge than to sculpt and adapt a definitive measuring tool designed specifically to address the discipline of jazz. Tony has brilliantly achieved this goal and gone far beyond by spotlighting the practices of successful jazz educators across the country (and around the world).

By reaching beyond a one-dimensional blueprint, Tony avails the reader to a buffet of possibilities encouraging each of us to tailor a grading system that not only fits our personal objectives, but also offers the young players an extended landscape of exciting growth and development as they pursue their own musical journey. From testing the students on the performance of chords and scales to developing the ear via writing tune-progressions, the reader is gifted an endless combination of gradation aspects for all-that-jazz: the toolbox runneth over.

I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight the caring-sharing personality of Tony García. You will “feel it” as you consume the wisdom he unselfishly brings to this scripted masterpiece. Having witnessed his signature style of connecting with people of all ages, I stand in awe of his level of commitment and dedication to the profession. Jazz education isn’t something Antonio García does; jazz education is something he IS.

CONGRATULATIONS to my dear friend, Tony García: you bring a treasury of benefits to the world of jazz, and you boldly remind us of our responsibilities to do it THE RIGHT WAY and for THE RIGHT REASONS. BRAVO!

—Tim Lautzenheiser





Tim Lautzenheiser began his teaching career at Northern Michigan University.
He then moved to the University of Missouri, and from there to New Mexico State University.
During that time, Tim developed highly acclaimed groups in both instrumental and vocal music.
He presently serves as Vice President of Education for Conn-Selmer, Inc., and President of Attitude Concepts, Inc.

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