Originally trained as a classical pianist, Andrew Cohen’s music teaching career has taken him from Australia, through New Orleans, to Canada, and from the world of Beethoven and Mozart to the realm of Dave Brubeck and Bill Evans. In Australia, his experience outside the classroom included working as a church music director, private piano teaching, and accompanying various choirs and soloists. In New Orleans he worked as a choral repetiteur, a classical accompanist, and a pit-band pianist for professional and amateur musical productions, as well as soaking up the incredible living musical history of the birthplace of jazz.
Andrew has taught elementary school music in Durham for 17 years. In the classroom, he encourages students to learn by performing and creating music as much as possible. He routinely plays alongside his students, demonstrating concepts, providing inspiring accompaniments, or simply jamming along with the students.
Andrew’s teaching practice is guided by two core principles: that music is a fundamental part of who we are, and that everyone can experience success in music. He is passionate about making music with others, and this enthusiasm communicates itself to his students in every lesson, rehearsal and concert. He also recognizes that growing minds learn in different ways and at different paces, and provides a variety of opportunities for each student to ‘play to his or her strengths’ and experience success in music. Andrew’s school programs offer students a wide variety of extra-curricular opportunities to perform and create music, including Concert Bands, Jazz Bands, Musicals, Songwriting Club, and Choirs. His students are routinely represented in Honour Choir and Honour Band, DIAC, and Durham Jazz, and have successfully auditioned for the Performing Arts program at O’Neill CVI, as well as continuing their music education in local high schools.
Outside of school, Andrew serves as one of the Directors of Durham Jazz, a community youth music program established in 2009. Durham Jazz offers students across Durham the opportunity to pursue musical excellence. Members perform at community events, festivals and schools across the Durham Region and beyond. Durham Jazz’s big bands and combos consistently earn the highest accolades at regional and national festivals. In partnership with school music programs, Durham Jazz helps students achieve their best as musicians and leaders in the music community. Many members go on to pursue music studies at the post-secondary level, or continue playing in community ensembles as adults. More information about Durham Jazz can be found at www.durhamjazz.ca.
Andrew plays most Sundays at his church and also helps with arranging music, accompanying soloists, and training new musicians. A firm believer in lifelong learning, Andrew continues private lessons with local jazz icon, Paul Greco.