University of Lynchburg students and others from the surrounding area had the opportunity to learn from Grammy Award-nominated saxophonist Max Abrams, who conducted a master class in Sydnor Performance Hall on Saturday, February 29.
“My father and Dr. Kara Dean worked together on a program called The Music Bridge, and I know that music education has been a tremendous field here,” said Abrams, about why he decided to give the master class. “I thought it would be a real joy to come and just see who here is playing and play with them, and chat with them and try to meet some fellow Lynchburgers.”
Abrams is a jazz artist, but he’s well-versed in many different areas of music. He mainly performs with The Mavericks, who play a variety of different styles, such as country, Latino, and rock ’n’ roll. The Mavericks were nominated for a Grammy every year from 1995 to 1999.
Preceding the musical performances, Abrams gave a lecture about his personal experiences with the music industry and what fundamental skills he needed to go from being an amateur musician to a professional artist working full time.
“Be ready when the opportunity comes,” Abrams said. “There’s the call you get from someone else and there’s the call you give yourself. Are you working every day to further not somebody else’s goal but your own goals?”
One student who worked with Abrams was Trevor Percario ’23, a pianist in the jazz ensemble and an aspiring composer. Percario served as a piano accompanist for Abrams and the other students on multiple songs throughout the master class.
“I felt it was constructive,” Percario said. “I was kind of reminded of something that I have to work on, and I’m struggling to find the key, but this kind of boosted my optimism in finding that.”
For music education major Malik Nowlin ’21, Abrams’ class gave him a lot to think about as to what to work on in order to get to the top. “My biggest takeaway was how to market myself in regard to the music industry and things I need to do in order to further my career,” he said.