Jason joined the Middle Way School for the 2023-2024 year as the new Music Teacher. The students adore his engaging way of making everyone feel like a musician at heart. We’re thrilled to have his breadth of experience, his innovative way of teaching, and his vibrant energy in the classroom!
I am very excited to join the teaching staff at the Middle Way School. Having worked in education over the last 20 years with multiple age groups and settings, all too often the element of mindful intention is missing. As an avid student of Buddhist teachers Thich Nhat Hanh, Tara Brach, & Pema Chödrön, it’s a dream to be able to unify my life pursuits of inspiring young musicians and living mindfully here at the Middle Way School.
Growing up in southern West Virginia, my first exposure to music was weekend trips to the mountain top community where my family has lived for over 150 years. On my grandparent’s front porch, I’d listen to my Pa-paw and uncle playing and singing while I learned how to flatfoot from my dad and Ma-maw. Back in the “city” of 15,000 people where I lived, sadly most of my formal music instruction was uninspiring and never hooked me. After graduating from UVA in English and Theatre, I worked full-time at St. Anne’s Belfield Elementary School. I then worked in DC public schools for two years, serving with the Americorps program City Year—all the while with music taking a backseat. Finally after my second year with Americorps, I moved back to my family’s mountaintop community, bought several second-hand instruments. There, I studied music theory, determined to learn music while teaching ELA at Sandy River Middle School.
Since then, during the last decade in NYC, I grew my musicianship performing as a one-man band during my solo storytelling shows as well as with two immersive theater companies since their nascency—Live In Theater and Trusty Sidekick. We’ve devised shows for unconventional spaces at notable venues such as Lincoln Center, Park Ave Armory, New York Historical Society, and the High Line, to name a few. Alongside these creative pursuits, I also taught at the Park Slope Playhouse Pre-K, with the New Victory Theater teaching artist ensemble for the performing arts, and ultimately as full-time Director of the elementary-age classes at Brooklyn Music Factory.
I’m very excited to bring the game- and story- based curriculum I helped develop at Brooklyn Music Factory to the Hudson Valley. This approach is driven by the key principle of music as a language. I feel that no matter what instrument one plays, we can all become fluent in this language with a strong foundation in the four pillars of music: Rhythm, Melody, Harmony, & Songwriting. To build a well-rounded musical fluency, it’s important to teach each of these pillars from four angles: Ear Training, Brain (music theory and reading), Hand (instrument technique), and Community (playing with others).
I’ve been in love with the wonderful community and beauty of this area since I started performing annually with the Sinterklaas festival in 2017. I now live in Kingston with my fiancé and dog, and love playing all types of music with all types of musicians. In addition to teaching in the area, I also perform stories and songs at several libraries and bookstores of the region. I’m so grateful to be a part of the Middle Way community and appreciate the warm welcome from students, staff, and parents.