BILL STEVENS: Pianist, Educator, Author

Bill Stevens is a member of the music faculty at Santa Clara University, where he directs the Musicianship / Sight-singing program and teaches Jazz Piano. He is a teaching artist with Avivo , a collective of master educators dedicated to cultivating creativity through music and music teaching.

Mixing elements of hard bop, the blues, and funk in his two-fisted, hard swinging style, Bill is an active pianist on both coasts. He has worked with musicians Hilary Kole, Kristen Strom, Ryan Lukas, Dave Flores, Renn Woods, Will Snider, Eric Mrozkowski, Weldon Kollock, Chip Newton, Natalie Boeyink, and Amy Hancock, and frequently collaborates in performance with dancer Kristin Kusanovich and painter Mike Stevens.

“This is like singing with Oscar Peterson, and I sang with Oscar, so I’m allowed to say that.” — Hilary Kole, October 2010, at Birdland

Bill is the author of Jazz Musicianship, a Guidebook for Integrated Learning, a wholistic approach to learning jazz theory and improvisation.

“Your book holds a place of honor, in my jazz library, next to Baker, Coker and Levine – keeping ‘fast’ company – but much deserved.” — Steve Crews

In addition to performances at Santa Clara University, Bill hosts a weekly summer concert series in Emerald Isle North Carolina. From 2011 – 12, Bill was the host of The Bill Stevens Jazz Hour at Ruggero Piano in Raleigh NC, a monthly concert series featuring rotating guest artists.

Bill is an alumni of The Oberlin Conservatory, graduating Pi Kappa Lambda in 2000 with a major in Music Composition and an independently designed major in Oral Music – focusing on listening and improvisation. His teachers included John Luther Adams, Randolph Coleman, Param Vir, Sanford Margolis, and Neal Creque. He has a Masters Degree in Piano Performance from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, graduating with honors in 2002, where he studied with Andrew Willis.

Bill was on the faculty of The Walden School’s Young Musicians’ Program from 2000 to 2010 and Teacher Training Institute from 2006 through 2011. He has been exploring how to apply the unique pedagogy of Grace Cushman’s Creative Musicianship Program, as handed down by her students across multiple generations, to jazz instruction since 2000 and has been offering classes in Jazz Musicianship since 2001.

As a young composer, Bill’s work received national recognition. He was named a level 1 Arts finalist by the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts (NFAA) and received The Presidential Scholars award in the arts (1995), meeting President Clinton and conducting an original work, “Archtypical Emergence”, at the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Bill holds a Three-Year Teaching Certificate in Deep Listening ™ from The Deep Listening Institute. He has also served a years apprenticeship with composer Pauline Oliveros, studying and teaching Deep Listening under her mentorship. Deep Listening is a practice of listening to sounds with meditative awareness, using this awareness as a point of entry into creativity in general and improvisation in particular. Curious about the relationship between creativity, meditation, and psychological process, Bill enrolled in The Helix Training Program in New York City, a four year self-transformational training whose mission is to bring together the divide between psychological and spiritual teachings around growth and healing. Continuing to pursue an interest in healing work, Bill completed a three-year course of study in Somatic Experiencing and is a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP). Somatic Experiencing is a modality concerned with restoring optimal functioning of the nervous system in the wake of overwhelming life experiences, helping people to be more fully in the present moment – a key component of creative flow, improvisation, and conscious living.

Being legally blind since birth and almost totally blind since age 14, Bill has been a guide dog user for 17 years, working with three dogs from Guiding Eyes for the Blind. His new dog, Wrangler, was The Today Show’s first Puppy with a Purpose. An avid dancer and movement improviser, Bill is an outreach ambassador for Open Floor International, encouraging people with disabilities to participate in dance improvisation and mindfulness through movement.