Grammy-winning Alumnus Holds Music Master Class for Kean Students
Kean University alumnus Alan Paul, a founding member of the Grammy Award-winning vocal group The Manhattan Transfer, recently shared his harmonizing expertise with Music Conservatory students in a master class.
Paul '71, '92H held the class in Wilkins Theatre, his old stomping grounds, where he critiqued student performances, including five pieces sung by the Kean University Concert Chorale.
"It was great. There was such exuberance,” he said. “One of the first songs they did was an early Manhattan Transfer song. It was a very difficult chart, and I was very impressed that they got it. When I was here, we would not have been able to tackle something like that.”
Junior music education major Chaancé Barnes said she picked up pointers on how to give a polished jazz performance.
“I learned that in jazz music, your expression should be relaxed and fluid,” she said. “I think it’s extremely important for students of all disciplines to have the opportunity to speak with professionals from various fields and be able to get advice from them firsthand.”
The takeaway for junior music education student Aaliyah Atwood was that the best performances have more than strong vocals.
“I learned that it’s great to sound good, but you have to own it. Move a little, and don’t keep your hands at your side. Have fun! And that’s exactly what happened. We had fun, and it took the edge off, and we sounded way better,” Atwood said.
For other students, like music performance major Edeli Ramirez, Class of 2021, the time spent with Paul was a glimpse into the world of a professional artist.
“The class can help us evolve or overcome our fears on stage by hearing about other people’s experiences,” she said.
The master class came the day after a Kean Stage concert by The Manhattan Transfer at Enlow Recital Hall. After the concert, Paul mingled at Ursino Steakhouse & Tavern with alumni, Sigma Beta Tau fraternity brothers and Kean students.
“When first I came to Kean as a student, I didn't really have much of a music education. I didn't know how to read music,” Paul said. “I got the foundation and fundamentals of music education here. I learned how to sing properly.
“It’s very important to give back to the Kean community. We all need mentors, guidance and support along the way. It’s very good to give back, especially if you have success in your life and you have something that you can contribute.”