After a career on the road with Ray Charles, and living and performing in both New York and Los Angeles, baritone saxophonist Adam Schroeder made the move to Las Vegas and joins the music faculty in the fall as assistant professor of jazz studies.
From a young age, he learned respect for all musical styles, appreciating that the audience, a positive attitude, and hard work are the keys to his success. With the inspiration of his mentor, trumpeter Clark Terry, and the support of his wife, flutist Lisa Schroeder, he is forging his own personal melody at UNLV.
While doing research about UNLV after the announcement of the position, I came across two statements that really stood out: “Invent the Future,” and “Possibilities are determined not by circumstances but by spirit.”
These statements I felt directly related to my teaching philosophy: to excite, inspire, and to educate. UNLV promotes creative collaboration and real-world teaching experience. The university’s mission is to develop each student’s unique strengths and, in return, promote them to give back to the community.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Sioux City, Iowa, where I learned — and still respect — the great Midwest values and traditions. I left for Texas after I graduated from high school, going to college and learning the ropes of the industry in and around Austin.
What inspired you to get into your field?
Early on, I met the great trumpet player and humanitarian/ambassador Clark Terry. He recognized something in me and a few others and took it upon himself to show us the musical fundamentals, those essential building blocks that provide immediate results regarding how to play your instrument. These fundamentals inadvertently, and so importantly, also taught us how to develop and live our lives.
He taught us to work hard on our craft and to respect the music as a whole. He taught us that our ears should be the judge, not our eyes. He taught us, too, that everyone deserves respect; the most skilled to the most beginning musician. He was the music. He was respect. He was humble. He was a people’s person whose ego stayed quiet until his knowledge could impart change.
Proudest moment in your life?
Easily the birth of our daughter, Isabel. It seems so cliché to say this; however, she truly brought life in general into the most vivid perspective. She has shown me that although we are all different, in the end, we all the same. Children in the first years of life are just so hungry to learn, to eat up knowledge — they could care so little about our differences as long as they can just interact with each other. Children intensely watch their parents teach them through their own interactions with the world. They watch through the most innocent eyes and blank-slate hearts. I know, this isn’t anything new, yet I truly could not acknowledge the importance of life’s precious balance and diversity until I became a father.
If you could fix one thing in the world, what would it be?
Fear and ignorance. Honestly in today’s world, I wish it were mandatory for everyone to leave their safe place and be required to travel as much as they could. Travel to the city and community right next door, travel to another state, to another country, to another culture. Stop watching what the media tells you is going on in these places and humbly go and actually experience it firsthand.
Pastime or hobbies?
Growing up in the Midwest, I loved being in the outdoors. Being silent, viewing, and listening to what nature has to offer. I love to play with my daughter, flip between cooking shows, the Discovery channel, and the History channel. I love to read and to listen to music (obviously) and interact as much as possible with anyone and everyone — to learn.
What can’t you work without?
Melody. Everyone has one, and to each it is absolutely unique. It changes form minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year. It changes with life; it changes our lives. It is a direct link to our heart and soul, to all of life’s emotions all at once. It sings our song, our reflection of life in its most present tense. It is the most diverse, deepest, soulful, groovin’, hippest song in and of the world. It produces the harmony of life. The question is, are we really listening?