Dan Elbert is a saxophonist, composer, teacher, and writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. His music is shaped by the unique perspective of (perhaps a bit rashly) quitting a six figure job; moving to a remote village in Northern Thailand to study jazz; growing tired of what was more or less farm life and moving to the city, soon becoming part of a Thai jazz co-operative; braving the reverse culture shock of returning to the US, thanks to a very generous scholarship from Berklee; completing his masters at the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, studying with such greats as Danilo Perez, Joe Lovano, John Patitucci, and others; and finally, amidst more chaos than he is accustomed to, despite having lived in Thailand through the 2014 coup d’état, working to release his debut album in 2021.
Dan has been fortunate to perform all over the world, including recent tours in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Panama, and Costa Rica, and has shared the stage with many great artists, including Danilo Perez, Kenny Werner, Ralph Thomas (Sun Ra Arkestra, Quincy Jones), Benjamin Koen (David Murray, Cecil Taylor), Uriel Barthelemi, Opor Red, R&B singer Allen Stone, and singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer.
As a teacher, Dan believes every student is unique, and that there is a lens through which music can feel rewarding and natural. His job is to help you find it. For beginners, this might be about simply developing an interest in music. For advanced players, this could be about finding your voice, or dealing with issues of ego, purpose, or technique. Having spent years studying with some of the best musicians in the world, Dan combines their insights with his own approach to help you grow. No matter your age, skill, or goals, he would love to help you become a better musician.
Birthday: September 28th
Schools Attended: University of California Berkeley and Berklee College of Music
Instruments You Teach: Saxophone
Age You Started Lessons: 12
Performance Experience: Various international jazz festivals and venues, including recent tours in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Panama, and Costa Rica, as well venues throughout New England
Favorite Music to Listen to: Constantly changing, but Keith Jarrett is always a safe bet
Favorite Music to Play: Jazz, world music, and recently, anything with synths
Other Hobbies/Interests: Hand to God, I cook fantastic Thai food
Where You Were Born/Grew Up: Just outside San Francisco
- Music is endless; practice whatever inspires you
- No approach is right or wrong. You have to find what works for you
- You play how you practice. You also play how you listen
- Remember: the goal is to play music. Exercises can be helpful, but are not the output
- Every time you play, write down what worked and what didn’t work. Most of the time, patterns will emerge. Work on the biggest problems first
- Sleep with a metronome under your pillow
- Record yourself and listen back constantly. Practice playing in such a way that you like what you hear