Together in the Woodshed #3: Dena DeRose

by elizabeth | May 14th, 2014

The third episode of my new podcast, “Together in the Woodshed,” featuring conversations with great artists about teaching and learning music, is now available! This episode’s guest is Dena DeRose, an incredible pianist and vocalist, and a faculty member at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, Austria.

I’ve admired her playing, singing – and especially phrasing! – for years, and it was wonderful to get a chance to hear her thoughts on the importance of peers as a cohort in learning about and playing music – “that [community] is the energy of jazz.”  She also talks about surrounding yourself as a learner with musicians who are better than you are, to learn and push yourself, and what attitude you need in order to never be bored.

Dena DeRose with Martin Wind

Here’s a particularly nice part of our chat, when we were talking about her peers when she was a young pianist:

Dena: Of all those guys, I guess Steve Davis was probably the one who opened my eyes to so many things, he was and is such a good musician.  I just remember when we were about 16 or 17 years old, and we had our first gig together as a group, and it was at his house, his parents were having a house party.  His father hired us and we played in the backyard.  But before that, I got there, to his house, and I walk into the living room, and Steve is in the middle of the living room with an Art Blakey record on, and he proceeded to play the trombone solo note for note, the sax solo note for note, the trumpet solo note for note, and then parts of the bass solo, and parts of the piano solo, note for note.  It floored me.  At that age, at 16, 17, that was a huge eye-opening experience, to see somebody on the trombone doing that – and really doing it, and loving it – that’s the thing, too – he was just in it – and I sat there in the living room and my mouth was to the floor, and I was like “wow, I want to be able to do that.”  I just thought “ok, that’s how we have to learn this music.”

Get the full conversation as a podcast below! And please visit Dena’s website to learn more about all the amazing things she has going on, including summer concerts in the San Francisco area for all you west coasters.


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elizabeth! is a vocalist, trombonist, and songwriter working in NYC and Los Angeles. Originally from Vermont, she studied neuroscience at Harvard before moving to NYC to play, tour, and record with jazz musicians, indie rockers, pop stars and more. Her new album of original jazzy pop tunes was just released on Canopy Jazz!

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