John Raymond & Real Feels share advice and a jazz performance with Eau Claire music students

UW-Eau Claire alum John Raymond presented a masterclass to a former professor’s students


Photo by Andee Erickson

UW-Eau Claire alumnus John Raymond performs with his jazz band, John Raymond & Real Feels before teaching a masterclass open to students and the public Monday in the Haas Fine Arts Center.

Story by Andee Erickson, Copy Editor

Musicians seeking their own success shouldn’t overlook the importance of practicing entrepreneurship.

This was the theme of a masterclass taught by critically acclaimed New York jazz musician and 2009 UW-Eau Claire alumnus, John Raymond, on Monday, which brought a crowd of about 40 students and community members to the Haas Fine Art Center’s band room.

Raymond performed a couple songs with his three-man jazz band, John Raymond & Real Feels. With the official release of the band’s album, “Real Feels,” approaching in February, the band was in Eau Claire as part of their 26-show CD release tour.

After the band performed, Raymond said the seminar was a reflection of his two articles featured in JAZZed magazine in 2015. In his first article in the November issue of JAZZed, Raymond credits an Eau Claire music professor for a phrase they said to a studio class Raymond took his first semester. “Bloom where you’re planted,” is what Dr. Robert Baca said.

This is the same professor who introduced Raymond’s masterclass. During his introduction, UW-Eau Claire jazz studies and trumpet professor, Baca said Raymond has been applying an entrepreneurial mindset to his passions for as long as he’s known him.

Raymond first gave his masterclass students a broad explanation of what it means to have an entrepreneurial mindset. Entrepreneurship, Raymond said, teaches how to plan, be productive, relate to people and meet deadlines. He said it’s about working to provide oneself with the tools to succeed.

“Without putting the hard work in and doing what you need to do on your end, you’re not even giving yourself the chance to be able to do the thing you want to do,” Raymond said.

Later, Raymond explained how to develop this mindset by breaking it down into his five steps: define the goal, then determine steps, set deadlines, seek out wisdom and be resourceful. By thinking in these ways, Raymond said students can bloom into the kind of musician or music educator they want to be.

Throughout the presentation Raymond asked his bandmates for their experiences and insights.

Drummer Colin Stranahan said an example of him practicing entrepreneurship was realizing his goal as a musician was to play with certain people.

Cody Longreen, a freshman music education student with a passion for jazz, said he was especially inspired by Stranahan’s story.

“He set himself up to be part of that top one percent,” Longreen said. “That’s definitely something I can strive for. And I definitely have to if I want to be at their level.”

The band’s jazz guitarist, Gilad Hekselman, told the class the pursuit of entrepreneurial mindset shouldn’t result in abandonment of musical creativity.

“Enjoy life,” Hekselman said. “If you’re not going to enjoy life you’re not going to be a good musician anyways.”

Raymond also told the audience it’s important not to fear failure, but to embrace it and recognize failure as a learning tool.

Alex Karye, audience member and sophomore trombone performance student, said Raymond’s perspective on failure struck a chord with him.

“It’s easy as a musician to get down on yourself,” Karye said. “But there’s a lot of things you can take away from failure as well. I think it’s really important that we realize that as musicians.”

Sophomore Sam Olson also attended the masterclass. As a student majoring in computer software engineering and minoring in music, Olson said he found the seminar widely applicable.

“I do want to try and be a musician but I also want to try and be a computer software engineer,” Olson said. “I can definitely apply his entrepreneurship aspects to any field.”ld

“I do want to try and be a musician but I also want to try and be a computer software engineer,” Olson said. “I can definitely apply his entrepreneurship aspects to any field.”