Joseph Jefferson ’10 decided to attend Shenandoah University because of its reputation. “The conservatory has a fantastic reputation of producing well-rounded music students and performers,” explained Jefferson. “Additionally, the music faculty are excellent teachers and performers providing an excellent model for those looking to pursue a career in music.”
The conservatory was a crucial part in Jefferson’s development as a performer and musician, helping prepare him for life in the music industry. He says the faculty were very supportive, providing him with guidance, sound advice and direction so he could achieve his goals.
“I am extremely thankful for the faculty who played an integral part in my development as a master’s student,” stated Jefferson. Those faculty members were former Associate Professor of Piano Karen Walker, D.M.A. (who served as associate dean for conservatory graduate studies during Jefferson’s time at Shenandoah); former Harrison Endowed Chair in Piano, Chair of Jazz Studies and Associate Professor of Jazz Piano Robert Larson ’08, D.M.A.; former Associate Dean for Conservatory Undergraduate Studies Aime Sposato; former Associate Professor of Musical Academics Wayne Wells; former Professor of Voice Janette Ogg; Auxiliary Adjunct Assistant Instrumental Professor of Jazz and Jazz Trumpet Craig Fraedrich, M.M.; former Conservatory Special Events Coordinator and Professor of Trumpet and Conducting Scott Nelson, D.M.A.; former Director of Orchestral Studies, Conductor, and Professor of Conducting Jan Wagner; and Bryan Kidd ’71, ’10.
After graduating from Shenandoah Conservatory with a Master of Music in pedagogy, Jefferson continued his education at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia, where he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in trombone performance.
Prior to accepting the positions at St. Olaf College, Jefferson was an assistant professor of trombone/euphonium and director of jazz studies at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Jefferson has also held faculty positions at University of Portland, Treasure Valley Community College, Boise State University and Tidewater Community College.
Recently, Jefferson was also selected as one of 40 music educators throughout the country to be featured in the Yamaha 40 Under 40 Class of 2023. In 2022, he was named Ellis Marsalis Jr. Jazz Educator of the Year by the Jazz Education Network and received the Shenandoah University Black Alumni Network’s Impact Award.
“As an educator, I have taught some amazing students throughout the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest,” said Jefferson. “Being able to live and teach across the county has been an incredible experience, as I have met so many students and colleagues from different backgrounds.”
While Jefferson loves to teach, he has also been afforded the opportunity to travel and perform, both nationally and internationally as a trombonist. He has performed with world-renowned artists and groups such as The Irish Tenors, Stuart Dempster, Dwele, Raheem Devaughn and many more.
The advice that Jefferson has for students is: “As a performer, you must always stay ‘performance ready.’ Opportunities can or may come up at any time, so being prepared is key for our field. NEVER STOP LEARNING! In the field of music, new topics in music education and performance are always being developed and evolved. You have to stay flexible and be willing to adjust. Lastly, you have to hustle! This is a field of ‘doing,’ so you must be willing to explore new opportunities. If there are opportunities in your area, get involved. If there aren’t any opportunities, create.”