Isaac Levien

A teacher at heart

I have consistently taught private lessons to bass players, pianists, and other instrumentalists since 2010. I have also had the opportunity to teach over a dozen jazz clinics, including two separate visits to the annual Panama Jazz Festival where I both taught and performed. I studied music pedagogy at Berklee and I continue to research pedagogy on my own time. In the last year I have participated in teacher training programs and workshops where I have learned the basics of Suzuki, Kodály, and Orff Schulwerk methods. Currently I teach music classes part time at a Manhattan private school and part time in an El Sistema based after school strings program.

My students have gone on to win statewide competitions including positions in the Massachusetts All State Jazz Band & Orchestra and scholarships to summer music festivals and camps. Some have participated in festivals like the Newport Jazz Festival, while others continue their study of music at nationally-ranked institutions like McGill and Northwestern University.

Private Lessons

After ten years of teaching, I feel that I've begun to develop a personal style. I've found myself zeroing in on a few key qualities I want to cultivate in my students and in my self. I believe that 'fit' is hugely important in teaching, and so I’ve written down some thoughts to help you decide if I'm the teacher for you.

At the center of my practice both as a musician and an educator is a devotion to personal growth and discovery. I find this for myself by teaching in varied contexts, from school classrooms to one-on-one lessons, to sharing volunteer masterclasses with interested students as far away as Panama. Service is important for me: I'm lucky to be able to make my living doing this, and I feel it's part of my responsibility to teach as widely and openly as I can.

No matter the context it is my goal to share with my students the lessons I have learned through music and to help them uncover their own. Some of these lessons are what one might commonly expect: from how to hold an instrument to basic music theory. On top of these skills we build more abstract ones: how to use music to improve oneself, to create joy and thought and feeling, or how to foster a strong collaborative environment in a band or project, the list is nearendless. As such I am constantly striving to inspire personal connections to the music and a stronger sense of community.

“[Isaac] is an excellent teacher; attuned to my needs, very good at explaining things, patient, very good at getting me to understand what I need to know. I look forward to learning upright bass with him!” – Victoria D.

Workshops

Throughout my career, I have had many opportunities to teach clinics in jazz music and improvisation to students ranging in age from elementary to adult.

Currently, I am a part of the music faculty at the Heschel School in New York City, as well as teaching after school with the nonprofit Harmony Program.