Today we’d like to introduce you to David Lown.
Thanks for sharing your story with us David. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up in the town of Harrisonburg in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. After experiencing some success with the saxophone in the band during Middle School and High School, I decided to attend the University of North Texas to pursue a Jazz Performance degree there. While at North Texas I performed with the world-renowned One O’Clock Lab Band for three years and directed the Four O’Clock Lab Band while in graduate school there. After graduating, I moved to New York City and worked as a freelance musician and teacher there for four years. I performed and recorded with saxophonist Dave Liebman and trumpet player Bill Warfield, among many others.
My wife and I moved back to Texas to start a family in 2006, and since 2008 I have directed the Jazz Program at Carroll Senior High School in Southlake. I’m still a saxophonist too, and I’m really excited to regularly perform and teach with my friend Stockton Helbing’s Sextet. I also play a lot with other musicians in Dallas frequently.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Living in New York and trying to be a professional musician was really tough, as it is for many who go there for that reason. The struggle of making it there as a performer was helpful though in that it highlighted how much I loved teaching. The seed of interest in teaching was planted for me while I was a student at UNT, but I only realized how much I truly wanted to do it as a profession when things were really challenging in New York.
Now I am really glad that I gave the New York adventure my full effort, and I know that I am doing exactly what I should be doing, which is both playing and teaching in this great metropolitan area.
Carroll Senior High School Jazz Program – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My main job is Director of Jazz Bands at Carroll Senior High School in Southlake.
Carroll’s jazz program is really unique because we have three jazz band classes that meet for credit during the school day. Most high schools in Texas have one jazz band that meets either during another band class or after school. With the support we have for jazz in our district, we are able to achieve a lot of success on an annual basis.
Carroll Jazz Ensembles have been named national finalists at the prestigious Essentially Ellington competition three times (2010, 2014, 2018), where they were twice given the award for Outstanding Brass. Our top Jazz Ensemble also earned the honor of Texas Invited High School Jazz Ensemble in 2013. I was named Carroll Senior High School’s Teacher of the Year for 2013-2014, and in 2017 was named a Quarterfinalist for the 2018 GRAMMY Music Educator Award. I’m a past president of the Texas Jazz Educators Association and I’m now on the organization’s board of directors.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment of my career was learning in February that my top jazz ensemble at Carroll Senior High School was named a finalist at Essentially Ellington for the third time. The students worked incredibly hard on their recorded audition, and getting to tell them that they were going to New York was a huge thrill.
Here is more information about the Essentially Ellington competition if you want:
- Instagram: @carrolljazzgram
- Twitter: @DavidLownJazz, @CarrollJazz