Music instruction: Eric Koppa

Last updated: January 8, 2011

Eric Koppa | Madison | West

  • Woodwinds-Clarinet, Oboe, etc.

Express yourself through jazz improvisation...

Genres: Big Band/Swing, Blues, Classical, Dance/Techno/Electronica, Funk, Jazz, Latin, New Age, Oldies: 50s-70s, R&B, Rap, Reggae, Rock/Pop General, Rockabilly, Ska, World Beat/Ethnic

Saxophonist Eric Koppa began his musical journey in Monroe, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, discovering jazz music in 1989 when he was 12 years old. With friend and fellow musician, pianist Jacob Sacks, they organized a jazz combo in junior high. As members of their school jazz ensembles, for five years, they participated in the Montreal Detroit Jazz Festival. Eric was introduced to the great jazz artists of the Detroit area, as well as national and international musicians featured at the festival.

Eric received many Outstanding Soloist awards his junior and senior years at jazz band festivals and competitions. Eric was nominated to play lead alto in an honors workshop band, led by Frank Mantooth, his senior year, and for three years in high school, he occupied the lead alto chair at the MSBOA sponsored Michigan Youth Arts Festival held in the spring at Western Michigan University. While on campus at WMU, he received clinic instruction from his future saxophone professor, Trent Kynaston. Eric received the Louis Armstrong Jazz award his senior year of high school and attributes his love of jazz to the experiences had while living in Detroit, MI.

During summers in high school, Eric traveled to Ohio to attend Bowling Green's jazz summer camp and studied with Cleveland saxophonist Ernie Krivda and bassist Jeff Halsey. He also spent a summer at Jamey Aebersold's jazz camp in Elmhurst, IL, where he studied with David Baker, Jim Snidero, Walt Weiskopf, and Trent Kynaston.

Development & Inspirations...

Having spent time on the campus of WMU as part of the Michigan Youth Arts Festival, Eric enrolled at WMU full-time to study with Trent Kynaston in 1995. During Trent Kynaston's sabbatical in 1998, Eric studied with resident artists Chris Potter, Seamus Blake, Walt Weiskopf and classical artists Lynn Klock, John Sampen and Ken Radnofsky. This was a critical year in the development of Eric's concepts and techniques. 1998 was also the year Eric met and studied with drummer Billy Hart and pianist Danilo Perez, and performed with the late saxophonist Bob Berg and pianist Kenny Werner. Eric graduated from WMU in 1999 with a Bachelor of Music in Saxophone Performance and Jazz Studies.

During the summers of '97, '98, and '99, Eric was a staff member at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, Michigan. He participated in the faculty MONSTER BIG BAND, accompanying saxophonist James Carter ('97), trombonist Bill Watrous ('98), and trumpeter Marvin Stamm ('99). Eric accompanied the BLFA International Jazz band in '98, and '99 under the direction of Bill McFarlin and George West respectively, and spent a month each summer, touring Europe.

Chicago & Beyond...

Inspired by the exodus of many WMU alums to Chicago, Eric moved in February of 2000 and began work at Bob Black's Saxophone Shop, LTD. He held a position as instructor and sales associate, all the while discovering Chicago's rich musical experience. In 2001, Eric left Chicago to join the Glenn Miller Orchestra, spending four months on the road with the band. Upon returning from the road, Eric focused on recording, small group playing, writing, and arranging. From 2002-2004, Eric performed weekly at Lilly's on Lincoln Ave. with Chicago drummers Ryan Bennett and Michael Caskey, bassists Brett Benteler and Matt Ulery, trumpeters Thad Franklin and Marques Carroll, pianist Andrew Toombs, and guitarist John Zelisko. In 2005, as a member of the Chicago hip-hop ensemble, Treologic, the band won the Billboard Magazine and Discmaker's Independent Music World Series. Also that year, Treologic completed their second album, entitled "Thank You, Lenny." In 2005, Eric Koppa, accompanied by trumpeter Tobias Kaemmerer, saxophonist Rob Haight, trombonist Raphael Crawford, pianist Andrew Toombs, bassist Matt Ulery, and drummer Michael Caskey together recorded "Evolution - The Calling", available through www.erickoppa.com.

Teaching Philosophy...

Eric has taught saxophone and clarinet privately and as a clinician for 15 years. Throughout his years teaching, he has taught all ages and levels of musicians. His approach to teaching begins with resolving any embouchure problems, introducing scale exercises, and assigning saxophone or clarinet literature. (Rubank Ferling/Mule, et al.) Through scale mastery, and using music theory methods that uncover key aspects of western music harmony, his students gain a technical understanding on their instrument, while gaining important music theory knowledge for composing or improvising. The practice of scales, arpeggios, and chord progressions give flight to the ability to discover personal creativity, while remaining grounded by a theoretical foundation of "how" music works. Ear training is an invaluable and necessary step in understanding how to replicate sounds, styles, and concepts, as well as reflect on one's own ability at any given time of study. Eric's students become technically proficient on an instrument, develop music theory understanding, and acquire critical listening skills, necessary for mastery of their instrument. Eric's students are enrolled in Performing Arts academies in the Chicago-land area, attend fine arts camps during summers, and perform in "all-city" and honors bands. Eric is a jazz faculty conductor at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, Michigan and performs with Clyde Stubblefield and the Prohibition Orchestra of Chicago.

Contact Information

Neighborhood: West
Madison, WI 53719

No phone number listed



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