Welcome, Anthony Ambroso

A few minutes’ conversation with Anthony Ambroso reveals his love for music, teaching, and a combination of the two. These are, of course, important passions for Center of Life’s Jazz Program Coordinator to have. “Jazz,” Anthony says, quoting Sonny Rollins, “is not a repertoire or a musical language. It’s a way of doing things, of approaching material.” It is about improvising, making creative arrangements of your own and—like a movie director—about the individuals who you want to make up your team and writing with their strengths in mind. But it is also always about the ensemble. Jazz teaches the crucial life skill of prioritizing this collective mentality, while retaining individuality. The keystone of this balancing act is trust. “The more you get to know your peers and the people you play with, the easier it is, and you develop more of a unique rapport.”

This collaborative trust is also the basis of COL Jazz. The K-8 age range that we work with is a very important stage in a kid’s life. It is when they are figuring out who they are and what they identify with, in terms of values, ideology, or skills. Being able to watch the students develop over these years allows the teachers a unique privilege. “Having known the students for a couple years, all of a sudden, I get the sense that they trust me more. That they see me as someone who actually really cares about them and is trying to help.”

Anthony was once the apathetic kid who had to be goaded into music lessons. After a new electric guitar and a teacher who he looked up to, he found the drive to pursue it himself. Sometimes, Anthony meets students in the same situation—doing it because their parents made them—and it is most rewarding to watch them really connect with the group and become self-motivated. The best way to bring out this natural interest in kids is to engage them and make it fun. 

Before the programs begin on October 1st, Anthony is working on setting up a new recording studio that will give the students an opportunity to work with the technology out there now. His vision for COL Jazz is for it to be a place where they can see that music is a fun, expressive, and creative outlet and something they can explore on their own terms with the modern tools of the trade.

- Arista Engineer 

Center of Life