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 combine principles from both music education
research and personal experience. Teach the student, not the curriculum; give the
student a voice throughout; provide attainable yet high goals that allow for repeated
successes, confidence building, and ambitious results; provide context for the music
and the process, don’t teach in a vacuum; trust my own experience and knowledge
to provide a range of opportunities in great music, regardless of genre or era; never
stop trying something new to reach these ends.