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Forte Featured Teacher: Jeff Baker

Forte Featured Teacher - Jeff Baker

Katie Hone Wiltgen, Chief Education Officer

April 24, 2024

We’re thrilled to highlight voice and songwriting teacher Jeff Baker today. 

We’re celebrating our fabulous teachers who have strong backgrounds in jazz (like Jeff!) during Jazz Appreciation Month this April.

About Jeff

Throughout Jeff’s career as a professional musician and educator, he’s had the incredible fortune to work with some extraordinary and diverse young artists, including Grammy Nominees, America’s Got Talent finalists, Downbeat Magazine Award Winners, and more.

As a teacher, Jeff’s students have won over 100 top awards at competitions around the world and been awarded over $3 million in college scholarships. 

As a mentor, he has produced a dozen internationally released albums, launched the Indie Record Label Next Records, served as a Grammy U Mentor, and given workshops at high schools and colleges throughout the country. 

Jeff’s Forte teacher profiles:

Jeff’s Teaching Style and Approach

How would you describe your teaching style?

I'm currently focused on working with young artists who have their sights set on careers in the music industry. Our time together is balanced between developing solid technique, filling in any gaps in the students’ knowledge around music theory, and supporting their efforts to take that information into the creative process as songwriters, vocalists, and performers. My goal is to help young musicians identify their superpower, and then build around those things in an authentic and effective fashion.

What's the best part of music lessons with you?

I think my unique experiences in the music industry as a recording artist, songwriter, touring musician, producer, and record label owner have given me perspectives that maybe not every mentor has. And, my goal is not to hold on to that information, but rather to impart it on the next generation of musicians.

How do you encourage and motivate your students to progress?

Most young musicians will see the impact of our efforts together very quickly. Once they realize what's available to them, they want to experience it more and more. Work is easy when you're doing what you were born to do.

What would your students tell us about you as a teacher?

Hopefully they would say I'm honest, knowledgeable, inspiring and an effective communicator. And, that I'm focused on their success first and foremost.

Forte Featured Teacher Jeff Baker

Jeff’s Unique Specializations

If you were to select one or two things that you specialize in as a music teacher, what would it/they be?

Artist Development and Songwriting. I am spending my time almost exclusively now with young artists who desire a career in the industry. As such, my focus on their progress is similar to that of a record label signing and investing in a new artist.

What genre(s) of music do you specialize in or most enjoy teaching?

Most contemporary styles are great! I'm trained as a jazz musician but spend time now in multiple genres like pop, indie, singer/songwriter and more.

Other than your primary instrument(s), are there additional disciplines or skills that you particularly enjoy teaching?

Songwriting and composition are the other areas of focus I'm working in mostly.

Student Success and Feedback

Can you share a success story of a student you've taught?

I have many! But recently, a former Voice student of mine was a finalist on America's Got Talent, and another one of my former students received her first Grammy Nomination in 2023.

What feedback do you often receive from your students (or your students' parents) about their lesson experience with you?

Generally, students come away from working with me feeling empowered, and with a sense of independence as artists. I believe my job is to provide information, inspiration, and opportunity. That's good teaching. So many students have told me I gave them all the tools necessary to grow and flourish as professionals. And when they came upon a challenge or setback, they understood how to seek out answers and solutions...That means the world to me.

Jeff’s students and peers, in their own words:

“I studied vocal jazz with Jeff for a total of three years. During those three years, I learned how to transcribe, improvise, make lead sheets, and countless other skills that prepared me for the New England Conservatory of Music and the Berklee Global Jazz Institute. Jeff is a masterful teacher and vocalist who understands how to inspire his students to work hard and always seek out new things to learn. I never realized how high the bar was set because he believed in me so much that I had no reason to doubt myself. He’s not only a teacher, but a mentor and friend." “Jeff has been and continues to be an incredible teacher, mentor, and friend to me. I can’t stress how much his presence has impacted my life in the best of ways. I am continually thankful for the ways he has opened my mind, heart, and soul to a profoundly beautiful new world of music.” “Jeff has garnered an esteemed reputation as being a dominant force in jazz vocal instruction and performance. I have rarely seen such a proficiently skilled, mature, and inspirational vocal teacher and director as I have observed in Jeff.”

Forte Featured Teacher Jeff Baker

Getting to Know You… Getting to Know All About You

Other than being a musician/music teacher, what is your forte?

I'm a naturally collaborative person and believe in bringing people together and sharing in success. I'm also very good at diagnosing and solving problems and can help individuals or teams to move past the issues presented and straight to finding solutions.

What are your hobbies or interests outside of music?

I like to play golf when I can, and my family is very important to me. Lastly, I'm a big sports fan! I regularly attend live sporting events all over the country.

If you could collaborate with any musician or composer (living or dead), who would you choose, and why?

I have many, but some include: Laura Mvula, The Fellowship Band, Sara Barielles, Madison Cunningham, Tiny Habits, Erin Bentlage, Emily King, Jon Cowherd, Bongwool Lee, Steve Reich, Phoebe Bridgers, Peter Gabriel, Bonnie Raitt, and Joni Mitchell.

What is the best musical advice anyone ever gave you?

Play the music you love, with the people you love.

As musicians, we are always learning and growing. What's something you're currently working on?

I'm continuing to develop my technological savviness and incorporate new tools into my process. I'm also always writing and lately have been writing for other artists.

If you could learn any other instrument, what would you choose, and why?

Cello. It's the best one.

What music are you listening to lately and really loving?

Amanda Mammana, Lachuné, Alyssa Allgood, and Meridian Odyssey

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

I don't do karaoke. Ha!

What is your afternoon snack of choice?

Toffee covered peanuts hit hard! I love Envy apples, popcorn and string cheese.

View Jeff's Forte profiles to book a Meet and Greet!

Voice Lessons | Songwriting Lessons