HAPCO Music Foundation

Tips to Get Your Rhythm Section Groovin’ in Various Styles- from Swing to Salsa

Michele Fernández and Rich DeRosa
Michele Fernández and Rich DeRosa, clinicians

“One Stop Rhythm Shop” is a clinic designed to give educators and students an aural, visual and interactive experience. Over the course of the session: directors and students will learn ways to interpret a drum chart, set-up common ensemble swing rhythms, as well as learn tips relevant to all rhythm section players for playing swing, funk, ballads, cha-cha, salsa, bossa nova and samba styles with more authenticity. The concepts demonstrated will be of interest to all students regardless of instrument and can be implemented immediately with students at any level, from elementary to high school and beyond. Session attendees will be given handouts containing examples and concisely written techniques to utilize in the various styles presented.

Michele and Rich have united to share their pedagogical methods with today’s inquiring music educators. In addition to their significant personal experience with Latin and Jazz music respectively, both educators bring a wide spectrum of teaching experience: Michele at the public school level, Rich at the university level.  Both have presented pedagogical clinics in international settings and conducted All-State, All-Region, and All-County Bands at the middle/high school levels. Both are published composers with music designed for public school students.

About the Clinicians…

Michele Fernandez is an active educator, clinician/adjudicator, and published composer. In addition to performing an oboist/percussionist in Miami and performing as a pianist in a busy Latin ensemble, Michele has served Florida schools since 1989, where her Miami High Symphonic, Jazz, Marching groups consistently earned top honors and gained international acclaim. Her groups have been selected for appearances at Midwest Clinic (Chicago ’93 & ’98), IAJE (Boston ’94 & NYC ’97), Montreux Jazz Festival (Switz. ’96), FMEA (’94 & ’97), and have been featured in national publications. Michele has been featured on “CBS Sunday Morning”, Band Director’s Guide and received a Downbeat Magazine outstanding educator award.

Michele has published works for jazz ensemble through Hal Leonard, premiered works at Midwest, IAJE, All-State venues, and composes for “Jazz Zone” book series (J. Richard Dunscomb). She has served as guest conductor for 2020 TN Mid-State HS Jazz, 2019 FL All-State MS Jazz Band, and frequently guest conducts Regional Honor Concert and Jazz groups.

She has appeared as a Midwest Clinic lecturer (’07 & ’16), as well as a frequent conference lecturer, clinician for Clark College Jazz Festival (WA), holds a yearly guest conductor position at FSU camps and is a HAPCO Foundation clinician. In the past she served as an Adjunct Professor at FIU, guest conductor for Univ of FL Camps and clinician for UNC (CO) Jazz Festival.

Richard DeRosa is the Director of Jazz Composition and Arranging at University of North Texas. He received a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Composition (2015) for his big band composition “Neil”.  He has arranged and conducted for the WDR Big Band in Cologne, Germany, and for Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center.

As a jazz drummer, DeRosa toured and recorded with Gerry Mulligan’s quartet and big band, Bob Brookmeyer, Jackie Cain & Roy Kral, and Susannah McCorkle. Other tours with Marian McPartland, Peter Nero, and Larry Elgart.

DeRosa’s jazz ensemble charts are available through Alfred Music, JW Pepper, e-Jazz Lines, and Sierra Music. He is the author of Concepts for Improvisation: A Comprehensive Guide for Performing and Teaching (Hal Leonard) and Acoustic and MIDI Orchestration for the Contemporary Composer (Focal Press) with Dr. Andrea Pejrolo.  Mr. DeRosa remains active with adjudications, clinics, workshops, and guest conducting throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Historical and Educational Perspectives

Michele, the daughter of two Cuban-born parents who immigrated to the US in the 1960’s- grew up in Miami, where diverse cultural dynamics are closely intermingled and foster a deep appreciation for many forms of music. Historically significant cultural forms of Latin music have become thoroughly infused into the music world and today’s educational music scene. Knowledge of the more commonly used forms is key for any young musician to be able to flourish.  Teachers rely on these infectious forms of music to enhance their students’ musical futures, but many struggle with the pedagogy needed to teach these forms with authenticity.  Michele has made it a personal mission to present the most important nuances of these major Latin musical forms for teachers to assimilate and effectively pass on to the next generation of musicians.

Rich DeRosa, the son of jazz education pioneer, Clem DeRosa, continues his father’s legacy as a dedicated jazz educator: Clem was one of the first to implement a jazz curriculum at the elementary school level in 1955. Soon thereafter, Clem moved into the high school where he developed a nationally-recognized jazz band that performed on the Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin TV shows in the early 1960s. Clem was also a faculty member of the Stan Kenton Summer Camps at that time and a founding member of the National Association of Jazz Educators in 1968. Pioneers such as Clem DeRosa were successful in getting schools to adopt jazz programs. By the 1970s into the present, schools throughout the U.S. have implemented jazz ensemble performance for their music students.

As we move into the future, the next objective is to provide opportunities for today’s music educators to access effective pedagogical techniques that will yield immediate results for their students. The two most significant areas of concern in Jazz/Latin styles deal primarily with the rhythm section and then improvisation. For this presentation, Michele and Rich will address the former aspect since it is foundational to all jazz/Latin ensembles. Their simple strategies will yield notable results within the clinic time period.