CODARTS JAZZ PORTFOLIO
+1 415 553 0146
Preferred Teacher: Alexander Preuss/Arturo Ramón
Other Applications: Conservatorium van Amsterdam
Music has become a path of self-realization for me, a reason for and a method of understanding myself. Like other musicians, I need it as much as I need sleep or air, and nothing excites me more than being able to create and communicate at the edge of my understanding through music with others. My history of studying Jazz has helped push me to that boundary, even navigating the unknown, and I want nothing more than to finally continue and “complete” my studies towards that end.
My exposure to jazz began in my sophomore year at high school in 2002, when I switched from clarinet to guitar. The idea of communicating deep thoughts and feelings through music felt so tangible, but I didn’t understand then how to really develop. It wasn’t until I studied with John D. Thomas at Berklee College of Music in 2012 that I started to learn, in an organized way, how to practice. He got me to shed all of the diatonic and melodic minor modes on guitar, and changed the way I thought about playing chords, using voice leading and melodies in the top notes. That was when I first realized how important a good teacher is.
What I originally saw to be true about Jazz remains thus: the spontaneity of playing with others and playing through changes requires a very thorough commitment to every aspect of music: theory, harmony, technique, etc. I have come to understand Jazz as not only a wide-ranging genre of music that demands a high-level of self-mastery and musical knowledge, but it is also a mode of being, of listening carefully to the world around you and knowing yourself well enough to respond in an inspired way. To reframe your mistakes and be here now while thinking ahead.
While I most definitely want to shred and move with the harmonic precision of Kurt Rosenwinkel have the lyrical chops of Wayne Shorter, and get lost in reverence to the eternal like John Coltrane, what I really strive for is to keep continually crafting my own identity and remain honest to myself. Most recently, I have developed a passion for Flamenco and its inexhaustible wealth of harmony, rhythm and right-hand technique. I have already noticed its influence in my playing. And this is exactly what brought me to Codarts. The encouragement of interdisciplinary study and collaborations between departments is the kind of open-mindedness I am seeking.
After meeting with Ed, Ronald, and current Codarts students during the Online Open Day, I am more inspired than ever. Listening to Ed and Ronald play was a real treat, and I would love the opportunity to study with them both! I was even able to play for them a few bars of my Flamenco-inspired “Windows” arrangement (which I have included in my application videos) on Zoom, and they received it with a heartwarming great enthusiasm. It is this exact spirit that I know will serve as an encouraging catalyst to my musical development. I have no doubt that Codarts is the best place for me to shape my own musical future.
Why Do You Think This Project Is Called Incubator?
1. The project seems to be aptly titled-- it is a collaborative creative process that is incubated by the nurturing care of artistic coaches, the respective fires of each participating artist, and the pressure of a 5-day incubation period, which ultimately gives birth to a multi-disciplinary work of live performance art. Beyond this, hopefully there is also born a new type of creativity within each of the participating/contributing artists.
What Are Your Reflections Working Together With Other Disciplines?
2. Working with other disciplines is incredibly rewarding! I feel that this is a very important and basic aspect of being a conscious citizen of the world, where your strengths are always met with another’s in an entirely different medium, creative or otherwise. There will most certainly be rewarding challenges. I imagine that as a collaborative artist, it can be incredibly inspiring to work with an artist from a completely different perspective and language of expression and have it translate into your own.
If You Had The Chance To Create Your Own Project, What Would You Be Inspired By?
3. This hypothetical question is answered knowing full well that I can only speculate about my exact inspirations at the time of a similar future project, and would be best able to answer if I had an exact theme and team of artists to consider:
First of all, while my inspirations may have their own inherent origins within my nature and are just waiting to come out at the opportunity of creation, I am indeed highly impressionable and will feel inspired in various ways depending on with whom I am working. Similarly, I would need to know what resources were available to us.
That being said, when I hear the terms “collaborating with other disciplines”, my thoughts immediately race to Shadow Puppet Theatre. I am most familiar with it as I have produced (and plan to again in the future!) my own shows and mini series with music, characters, puppet designs, directing, set building etc. I also participated in the 2018 Catapult Workshop, led by guest artists of Manual Cinema, and hosted by Blair Thomas of the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival. There I was placed among various visual artists, poets, actors, and even art teachers to produce spontaneous shadow stories from random conglomerates of poetry.
While shadow puppet performances are (usually) performed on a screen towards which the audience is faced, the highlights from the Incubator 2019 video suggest that there are a near infinite number of ways to perform projects.
As a musician, I can of course offer musical performance/composition and interpretation, but as a creative artist of other mediums, I am curious about how many ways I would feel inspired. For example, what is/are our goal(s)? Can shadow theatre be an effective element of this production? How many ways can we interpret this? Are we telling a story? Are we inducing a feeling? Are we giving our opinion or making an informed presentation of all sides? In addition to the myriad questions and considerations I would have, the nature of a 5-day production schedule is very often, “The first idea is the right idea.” I would be very curious what kind of creativity and impulsivity I would be matched with!
Finally, I admire the concept of the Incubator project itself and look forward to having the chance to participate. One of the reasons I am so excited by Codarts is that it seems to have a rather fluid cross-pollinating student body with lots of opportunity for collaboration. My shadow puppet theatre plans are itching for the right cast of artists.
After Nick started his formal music education in 1995 at the age of eight on his family’s heirloom clarinet, he soon advanced to the Midwest Young Artists program, performing in the Symphony Orchestra and the Winds Quintet Ensemble. In 2001, Nick began playing the guitar, idolizing Jimmy Page. Luckily, there was an esteemed jazz program at one of the local high schools, and Nick was able to transfer to that program. By the end of high school, he was already writing music for a wide range of instruments and groups.
Nick’s formal guitar studies continued in the jazz program at Western Michigan University in 2005. Continually fascinated with classical music and the sound of the violin, he bought his first violin off eBay and immediately starting teaching himself. Later, in 2012, Nick became the first self-taught violinist to be accepted into the String Department at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, where he was pursuing majors as a guitarist in both Performance and Composition.
While living in Boston, Nick founded and completed several projects. Among them were Kaleidoscope Hurricane, a live free-improvisation group of rotating members, and his Modern Shadow Theatre, a full-immersion production of shadow puppetry and music with an original story for which Nick wrote, produced, directed, and performed.
In 2016, he recorded and released his first EP titled "Michigan", a collection of songs for guitar and string quartet originally written during his time in Michigan.
Over the most recent couple of years, Nick has been pursuing flamenco guitar wholeheartedly. He is currently the resident flamenco guitarist at Taberna de Haro, a highly awarded tapas bar near Boston.
Nick currently works as a guitar teacher for all ages and passionately strives to instill in his students the deep joy and life that music and the guitar bring him.