Alum of the Month: Jonathan Bauer

VIU Jazz Studies alum finds harmony

VIU Jazz Studies alum Jonathan Bauer is finding harmony in his life despite a busy schedule of touring, recording music and playing with the renowned New Orleans Jazz Orchesta. Photo credit: Chana Rose Photography

July 23, 2019 - 5:15pm

Moving to New Orleans gave multi-talented trumpeter and composer Jonathan Bauer the chance to hit the ground running after graduating from Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies program in 2014. Since then, he’s gotten a master’s degree, toured parts of the world, started playing with the infamous New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and recorded his own album. His secret? Staying in tune with other aspects of his life besides music.


Tell us about your journey.

VIU really helped me solidify my self-motivation. My professors gave me every chance to succeed, and also every chance to sink or swim. I’m grateful for that. It prepared me for the career I’m in today.

After graduating from VIU, I packed my bags and moved to New Orleans. I received a master’s degree in music with a focus in jazz performance from the University of New Orleans. During that time, I was introduced to countless band leaders and would play upwards of 30+ gigs a month. I also started touring, and saw a lot of beautiful parts of the world from the windows of tour vans. I was then picked up by the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) to be part of their trumpet section, and recorded trumpet on their most recent release, Songs - The Music of Allen Toussaint.

Walk, Don't Run albumFollowing that, I set out on my own journey and recorded my first album of all-original music. Called Walk, Don’t Run, it was released in April 2019 with the Slammin’ Media record label. Since then the album has been climbing the American jazz charts and it is close to breaking into the top 100. The album is also seeing a steady climb in popularity on the radio. Check it out on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, YouTube, Napster, Tidal, and my distribution company – Believe.

This album is the beginning of a new chapter in my artistry. I’m striving to continue creating the highest level of art I can at all times, while also learning how to create a sustainable business model that allows me to continue improving my quality of life as a full-time musician and artist.


What are three things you did after graduating from VIU that helped develop your career?

I’d start by saying I actively chose to put myself in a location where I would be surrounded by the greatest musicians in the world. The roots of jazz are deepest in New Orleans, being the place of its birth. Second, I set a long-term goal of being a full-time musician, and it changed the way I spent my time. The third thing I did, and this is potentially the most important, is I locked myself in dark rooms and practiced. I practiced countless hours every day, and continue to do so. If you put in the hours, you will see results. Somewhere down that path of dedicating yourself to the music, you’ll find yourself participating at a level that people will recognize no matter where you go.


What advice would you give to others who want to follow a similar career path?

The advice I would give young cats is that you need to create longevity in this career. If you’re going to last long enough to see the success you desire, you have to be able to separate your self-worth from how well you play music. Remember the countless other things you are. Remember your family, friends, hobbies and other interests. Fall in love with your practice. Get lost in it, but be careful not to let it consume you. Being a good musician doesn’t make you a good person. Strive to be a good person. Band leaders want to work and travel with good musicians who treat others well. Secondly, work hard. If you want this, go get it. Create plans and strategies to put yourself in a position where opportunities present themselves. Also, practice, practice, practice. There’s no shortcut or getting around it. 


What’s next for you?

I’ve got all the music written for the next record. This summer, we’ll head back into the studio and start the process all over again. We’ll also be touring soon. In October I’ll be on Vancouver Island! I’m excited to create a cycle of content creation where my band balances touring with recording. We have every intention on hitting the pavement hard and not stopping until our presence is undeniable.

Tags: Jazz Studies | Music | Our Alumni

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