Luke Nelson, Composition and Theory
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Luke Nelson

composition and theory

Luke NelsonLuke Nelson is a music educator and musician, currently teaching at The Hartt School Community Division. Nelson holds a Master of Music Education degree from Boston University, as well as a B.A. in music theory and composition from Central Connecticut State University.

For 13 years, he was the Director of Music at Watkinson School, directing and teaching over a dozen ensembles and classes in middle and upper school. He created curriculum for theory and history courses, as well as general music classes. He composed, arranged, and directed all the music for each ensemble, including classical and jazz groups, an a cappella vocal group and an experimental music activity.

Nelson has been a professional musician most of his life, playing guitar, bass, and/or piano on countless gigs. He lived in New York City for five years, followed by ten years in Chicago, where he formed his band, Luke and the Cool Hands. The two CDs recorded by Luke and the Cool Hands feature some of the 1000 songs he has written.

Nelson has worked with many jazz greats including Brad Goode, Don Stiernberg, Johnny Frigo, and his dear friend and mentor, Jon Hendricks. He is also a seasoned music director and actor, having performed at many theaters around the country, including the renowned Goodman Theater and Second City in Chicago.

Several years ago, Nelson moved back to his home state of Connecticut and has since been seen at Cheney Hall in Manchester, The Bushnell in Hartford, and many other New England venues. He continues to produce music while devoting most of his time to music education.

Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy continues to be driven by the belief that music education is critical to a person’s growth and development, and that by giving students a balance of disciplined instruction and creative freedom, they will reach their full potential.  

This has led to a practice that holds high the standards of musical excellence. It allows for teaching that illuminates a world of possibilities, while allowing each student to find their path, set their sights, and work with me to reach unforeseen goals. Holding that balance between student independence and teacher expertise is the ongoing work of each rehearsal and class.