Professor Freddie Mendoza is the assistant professor of jazz trombone.

“Growing up, my parents and grandparents on my father’s side were always playing music. My grandparents had an old player piano, and as soon as I was able to sit at that piano, I would play the many piano rolls in their collection over and over again, watching the keys move. I did not know it at the time, but their collection of piano rolls contained many of the most beloved jazz standards from the Great American Songbook, so I was exposed to jazz at an early age. I also listened to my grandfather’s records of the 1940’s big bands, and fell in love with the music. I made sure I was a member of the big bands at the schools I attended, through middle and high school, and college. Once I began to improvise in middle school, I knew that this is what I wanted to do for a living. It is hard to know what I like more: teaching music to young students, or performing and bringing joy and excitement to audiences. I guess I would have to say that I am drawn to both aspects of my professional life equally. It is quite rewarding to work with students, or a young ensemble and watch them grow before my eyes. The sense of accomplishment they feel when they realize their progress and success is a great feeling. My most successful students have been the ones who, rather than trying to be a piece in a puzzle, created their own individual and unique puzzle around them. Create your own opportunities and pursue them with all the passion and drive you have and don’t look back.” 📸 @jkwcreative