Mallory Kokus

Mallory Kokus headshot

Saxophone Instruction; First Steps in Music Instruction

HCD Music

Saxophonist Mallory Kokus is an active freelance performer and teacher. She is an instructor of saxophone at the Hartt School Community Division. Mallory is also the instructor of saxophone at Manchester Community College and maintains a private home studio of saxophone and clarinet students. She is an adjunct instructor at The Hartt School where she teaches saxophone and clarinet methods for the Music Education Department. As a high school woodwind instructor, Mallory has worked with various band programs across the region including Berlin High School and Simsbury High School.

Mallory has extensive experience as a woodwind doubler. She can often be heard playing in musical theater pit orchestras across the state. She has worked at such theaters as: Playhouse on Park, Ivoryton Playhouse, Norma Terris Theater, CT Repertory Theater, Bradley Playhouse, Opera House Players, and many high school productions. She is also a tenor saxophonist with Flamingo Big Band and alto saxophonist with Foundry Saxophone Quartet.

When she isn’t playing or teaching woodwind instruments, Mallory can be found making music with little ones (and their grown ups) at her First Steps in Music classes! First Steps in Music (FSIM) is an early childhood music program developed by Dr. John Feierabend. She completed her Feierabend Association for Music Education (FAME) Training for First Steps in Music with Connie Greenwood in 2018. She is currently teaching FSIM classes in Hebron and Old Lyme, and hopes to expand to more locations soon.

Mallory studied at Penn State University (BS Music Education with Honors) and The Hartt School (MM Saxophone Performance). Her primary saxophone teachers are David Stambler and Carrie Koffman. Mallory is a native of southeastern Pennsylvania, but now lives in East Hampton, CT with her husband and three children.

Private lessons are a unique and special opportunity for both student and teacher. Private teachers are able to get to know their students and families, which fosters strong connections and allows the teacher to tailor the lesson experience for every student. I strive to meet my students where they are musically, then help them develop the skills to continue their growth.

I am always sure to focus on the fundamentals in my private teaching. This includes the fundamentals of good saxophone playing like proper embouchure formation, articulation, breathing, and air support. These topics can be difficult to address thoroughly in a student’s school band program. I also emphasize the fundamentals of music, such as aural skills, basic music theory, and rhythmic accuracy.

My students all work on a variety of repertoire. I utilize etudes and method books in both classical and jazz styles as well as transcription assignments. I love to incorporate duets into my teaching; duets are a wonderful way to work on intonation, phrasing, style, and ensemble playing. My students work on solo pieces as well, and I encourage all of them to perform in studio recitals. Solo performance is so different from playing with your school band! It can be scary and nerve wracking at first, but the thrill and joy of playing a solo piece for an audience is unparalleled.

Though I expect my students to learn a great deal and perform at a high level, it is unrealistic to assume that more than a few of them will pursue music as a career. As a private lesson teacher, my goal is to develop well-rounded, resilient students with a firm understanding of the basic concepts of music. I hope my students will continue to appreciate music into adulthood, seeking it out as an audience member (live concerts or recordings) and as a participant (performing with community bands or just playing for fun). I also hope that they will support and advocate for music in schools, ensuring that their children also get the opportunity to develop into musical people and appreciate this unique aspect of the human experience