Music Instructor and Jazz Recording Artist Sarah Greer Brings Intuitive Teaching Style to Students

woman in front of microphone

Fresh off her appearance on WCCO’s Mid-Morning show, a solo show at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, and a sold-out CD release concert, vocalist, composer and Minneapolis College Applied Music faculty Sarah Greer released her album, What the Music Says Do, in the fall of 2018.

It is her debut studio recording and through it, she explores the many sounds and ideas that the jazz genre can hold. The album’s soundscape is vast and eclectic, and reflects the teaching style she brings to her students. 

Greer Shares About Her Experience as Instructor
Greer was asked about her experience as an instructor at the College.

What do you find most enlightening about being an instructor?

“I really enjoy the diversity of the student body, in terms of age, being from the city or rural areas, in the nursing program or computer science or graphic design, you meet a lot of interesting people being an instructor here.“

What would be one word or phrase to describe your experience here?

“Educational. I learn as much from my students as I teach them. Working with a lot of different students who learn in different ways, and figuring out how to teach a pretty abstract concept such as singing to different types of learners makes me understand music better, makes me a better instructor, and makes me a better vocalist.”

How does being a working musician inform your instruction, and vice versa?

“I really enjoy teaching because it helps me dig down into my own artistic practice. So I have to figure out how to explain a concept like resonance to students then I really have to understand it, and through that understanding I learn things that can apply to my own artistry. That works with students who have done a lot of singing and students who are coming to it for the very first time.”

Greer’s Album is a Mix of Influences
In 2017, Greer received an Artist Initiative Award from the Minnesota State Arts Board to complete a solo album of jazz compositions. Tasked with writing and recording an original album in a year, Greer wrote a collection of songs about her love for family and friends, about expressing—and being—one’s true self, and about living as a woman of color. 

It features traditional songs like the jazz waltz “When We Meet,” message songs like “Brown Girl Blues;” Latin-influenced offerings like “Awake,” and improvisations that Greer calls ‘story-songs’ (“Big as Sky,” and “Storyteller”). The recording features an impressive list of almost entirely local musicians with national reputation, including Anthony Cox (bass) and Dean Magraw (guitar). The female a cappella ensemble Give Get Sistet (Greer is a member) add vocals on select tracks.

Greer says of the concept for the album,

“Adapted from the spiritual, I’m Gonna Do What the Spirit Says Do, it captures both my experience of creating the album and my discovery while doing so that songs can be found if I simply listen for the music and then, without ego or agenda, do what it tells me to do.” 

Applied Music Faculty and Student Performances Apr. 30 and May 3
To experience the music performed by faculty and students, all are invited to the spring Music Faculty Recital Tues., April 30, 7:30 p.m., T.1400, and the Student Choral concert, Fri., May 3, 7:30 p.m. Both events are in the Whitney Fine Arts Theater, F.1200. The events are free and open to the public.

For more information
For more information about Music programs at Minneapolis College, visit the Music Programs page.

To purchase, download and learn where to stream What the Music Says Do, visit Greer's website.