PlayTheGroove is not the brainchild of one single person. This effort has involved tremendous input from hundreds of people specializing in a wide variety of disciplines, including academics – graduate and post-graduate professors as well as secondary and tertiary educators, professional music copyists and supervisors, resource specialists, web designers, and business and marketing consultants.
The following individuals have been key advisors in designing PTG’s music education pedagogies and curating our educationally grounded content (song choices, sheet music, guidelines, and resources).
Richard J. Frank
Richard Frank has been involved in the entertainment industry for over 25 years as a professional musician and business development executive. He has performed with the Harry James Orchestra and American Youth Symphony, produced a PBS documentary, composed and recorded 2 original CDs, and worked as a top-tier marketing executive with major Hollywood studios. Richard holds a B.M. in Jazz Studies from the University of Southern California (USC), and an M.A. in Educational Technology from California State University Northridge (CSUN). PlayTheGroove.com is his most ambitious project to date, bringing together his talent, experience, passion, and professional network to create a fun, fresh, accelerated method to teach the interlocking skills of jazz at the secondary-school level. PlayTheGroove believes that every student deserves to play the melody, and that equates to teaching jazz in new and exciting ways with a new and diverse repertoire.
Patrice Rushen, Ph.D., is an award-winning musician and composer who is also one of the most sought after artists in the music industry. She is a classically trained pianist who originally found success in the ’70s and ’80s with her signature fusion of jazz, pop and R&B. During this era, she composed and recorded the hit song “Forget Me Nots,” which has been frequently covered and sampled by other artists. Rushen, a four-time Grammy nominee, has composed scores for movies and television. She has been the first female musical director for many of the entertainment industry’s top award shows, including the Grammy Awards, the Emmy Awards, the People’s Choice Awards, the NAACP Image Awards and HBO’s Comic Relief V.
Ken Foster is a nationally recognized arts leader with more than 30 years of experience as an arts administrator, curator, educator and performing arts presenter. For ten years prior to coming to USC in 2013 – where he designed, launched, and now directs the Arts Leadership program (ARTL) – he was the executive director of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA). During his tenure at YBCA, he transformed the organization into an internationally recognized center for contemporary art, performance and social activism. Additionally, Ken wrote the book Arts Leadership: Creating Sustainable Arts Organizations.
Tony White is a professional jazz musician, musical director, teacher and philanthropist – one of those all-around talents whose mastery of the tenor sax, soprano sax, and alto sax makes him the perfect headliner as well as the perfect mentor. As coordinator of the LAUSD Beyond the Bell program, Tony recruits music teachers for high schools with outside arts partners in music, visual arts, drama and dance to help focus their resources in schools that welcome the arts into their curriculum, and acts as a liaison between the Grammy Foundation and LAUSD students who are interested in full-time careers in some aspect of the music industry. He visits colleges and universities with composers, entrepreneurs, agents, lawyers and other behind-the-scenes professionals to allow students to rub shoulders with future mentors and/or bosses.
Judy Lewis is assistant professor in music education at SUNY Potsdam. She is a graduate of Hebrew University in Jerusalem (B.A. Music Education) and Teachers College, Columbia University (M.A. and Ed.D in Music and Music Education). Dr. Lewis also held a two-year postdoctoral research post at Columbia University’s Institute for Urban and Minority Education, where she conducted research in the area of urban music education, popular music, pedagogy and social justice. Prior to her appointment to SUNY Potsdam, Dr. Lewis served as assistant professor of music education and director of the Master of Music in K-12 Contemporary Teaching Practices at USC. Prior to her work in higher education, Dr. Lewis spent 25 years as a K-12 public school music teacher and community music facilitator.
Dr. Lewis’s research interests include social justice and critical pedagogy in music education, urban music education, digital technology and multimodality in contemporary musical engagement, and popular music pedagogy. Her scholarly writings have appeared in Philosophy of Music Education Review, School Music News, and Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain.
Chris Stevens is a performing musician with over 20 years of experience at Long Beach Polytechnic, a six-time Grammy Signature School, and has long been a leader in the education of the next generation of performers and artists. He graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from CSU Fullerton and earned his teaching credential at CSU Long Beach. He directs the jazz program at Long Beach Poly, which includes over 120 students in 4 different curricular classes. He recently finished an extensive term of service on the board of the California Alliance for Jazz in various capacities, including President. Additionally, he directed the SCSBOA All-Southern Junior High Jazz All-Stars in 2007, and the Orange USD Middle School Honor Band in 2016. He has presented clinics on various topics at SCSBOA and CASMEC Conferences, as well as adjudicated many jazz festivals.
Dr. Brian Foley
Dr. Brian Foley is a Professor of Secondary Education at California State University Northridge. His research looks at uses of technology in the classroom to promote learning, particularly in science education. Recent work includes developing teaching methods for use in classrooms through the use of collaborative documents. Before coming to CSUN, Brian completed his Ph.D. at UC Berkeley and worked at the Caltech Precollege Science Initiative and at UC Irvine.
Aaron Kohen – Aaron Kohen graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in Geography and pursued his Masters of Music Education at the University of Southern California. He has taught music at the elementary, middle and high school levels in LAUSD and LVUSD since 2000. Mr. Kohen studied violin, trumpet and finally bass in his youth, leading to a love of instrumental music. He has performed and recorded as a bassist with jazz groups, orchestras and rock bands, composed music for concerts, films and commercials, and taught bass privately for 15 years. Mr. Kohen teaches all levels of jazz at CHS and is the co-director of the Music Program.
Dr. Alexander Koops
Dr. Alexander Koops was born and raised in Jos, Nigeria. He holds a D.M.A. in Music Education from the University of Southern California, with minors in theory, orchestral conducting, and horn performance. His dissertation materials on introducing composition in middle school and high school bands and orchestras have been used by multiple schools in southern California. He is the author of Composition Concepts for Band and Orchestra: Incorporating Creativity in Ensemble Settings (2020) as well as writing a chapter published in Composing our Future (Oxford University Press, 2012), and was a contributor to Musicianship: Composing in Band and Orchestra, published by GIA in 2013. Koops was awarded a Fulbright grant in 2012 to teach at the Jazeps Vitols Latvian Academy of Music in Riga, Latvia.
Anne Stockwell is a thinker among thinkers. Her innate ability to stay cool under pressure and adversity and to promote original and thoughtful solutions and guidance is the shining light that keeps PlayTheGroove illuminated. She is a multi-skilled journalist, author, and editor with a national track record including her service as Editor in Chief of The Advocate magazine. She has also edited and/or published at Esquire, New York magazine, Rolling Stone, Ms., and others. She holds a master’s in film direction from NYU Graduate Film School and a BFA in advertising design from USL. She is the author of The Guerrilla Guide to Mastering Student Loan Debt (HarperPerennial). Anne is also the founder of Well Again, a nonprofit advocacy group for creative cancer survivors. She is the creator and leader of Spirit of Survival and Hear Me Out, transformative creative workshop experiences for survivors of cancer and other life-altering health events.