Jim Doser

January 15, 2012

Defining Versatility

Eastman alum Jim Doser has established a musical career that embodies versatility. Doser received a BM in Music Education, the Performer’s Certificate, and a MM in Jazz and Contemporary Media from Eastman and currently teaches two ALP courses, Career Skills and Entrepreneurial Thinking. An innovator of the field, Doser is continually expanding his roles as a musician, administrator, educator and businessman. Fluent in various genres, Doser has performed as a soloist with the Rochester Philharmonic and is equally comfortable playing in local jazz clubs. Doser currently administers the music program for the Penfield School District and has experience teaching all levels, elementary through collegiate and adult education. In the field of education Doser has won numerous awards, including The Smithsonian Award for Education and the Harvard-Radcliffe Award for Teaching Innovation. Rounding off his career with business experience Doser, along with two partners, owns Tritone Music Inc. Doser exemplifies entrepreneurship through the innovation he has brought to multiple areas of the music profession.

What in your educational background helped you create a career that includes work as a teacher, musician, administrator, and businessman?

From the beginning I set out to be as versatile as possible by what woodwind players call being a doubler. I made it my goal to be versatile so I would be able to play all of those instruments in a variety of styles so I could be playing with the RPO one night and with a Broadway show the next night.

Can you describe the innovative educational programs you’ve work on in the Penfield School District?

One of the things we teach at Eastman is entrepreneurial thinking and the reality is that those people who are fulfilled in their jobs are those who are coming up with new ideas. In Penfield, we wrote a complete curriculum that included new music, visual art, history, and English to accompany the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibit, The Jazz Age in Paris. The curriculum was provided to any school in any city where the exhibit went, free of charge, and our team won the Smithsonian Award in Education for that year. That’s a great example of entrepreneurial thinking. The National Endowment for the Arts funded our adventurous program called PRISM: American History through New Music. Students in history classes divided into small groups and each was assigned one of the thirteen periods of American history. Each group then met with a composer that we commissioned. The students’ goal was to explain to the composer how they thought that period in American history should be interpreted in music. The composer then took those ideas and composed a piece for one of our thirteen ensembles, which then premiered the works in our prism concert. Any way that we can help people relate to music is important because we know they are not always going to do it on their own.

What is Tritone Music, Inc.?

Tritone Music produces jazz camps for adults. We base it on the concept of baseball fantasy camps. Ours is based on that premise although it has a tremendous amount of instruction. It’s very intensive, about 12 hours a day, and designed for amateur musicians mostly middle-aged or older.

What do you think are some of the most important skills students at the college level should develop?

Most of those skills fall into the communication category. It’s the ability to communicate and connect the dots for your audience or your students to give them some personal relationship with the music. Perhaps more important is the ability to communicate with the people who have the power to make programs survive whether it be boards of directors or philanthropists or politicians or administrators. It’s a constant mission to sustain programs so you need to be able to sit down and talk with people, understand what motivates other people and tailor what you want to do to what they want. Maybe the biggest skill people forget about is the importance of writing. How to put your ideas onto paper concisely and directly, so you can apply for grants and make your case for things you want.

Describe your first “out of college” experience after graduation.

I would say that the time between my degrees when I first started teaching was very important to my career. The three years before I started pursuing my master’s degree is when I learned the most. I had time to put into practice all of the information that was coming to me so quickly at school. Not just teaching, but as a musician. I found that I now had the time and opportunity to comprehend much more. It was the most valuable time. Then you can pursue your master’s degree in a totally different way and know more clearly what you want to focus on.

What advice do you have for music school students?

I think music students and professional musicians tend to not want to recognize what other skills and talents they have. For some reason, they don’t like to admit if they are a good writer or good public speaker, or that they are good with finances or organization. In music school, some feel that if you admit to these other strengths and passions it almost diminishes your credibility as a musician. But the reality is that it’s most likely these things that will help you achieve your musical goals as well. You have to be ready to embrace and develop all of your talents.