Music Theory Faculty
Assistant Department Head, Ensembles
Dr. Scott Agster has performed all over the world with such distinguished groups as The UNT One O’Clock Lab Band, The Dallas Jazz Orchestra, Salsa del Soul, the Matt Sawyer Orchestra, Snowblind (founding member and composer), Jack Brass Band, G8, Bella Galla Big Band, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, and The Skunkfoot Seven. Scott has had the opportunity to work and perform with many acclaimed artists including Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, Dave Douglas, Phil Woods, Nicholas Payton, Stefan Karlsson, Slide Hampton, and Paul McKee. He’s recorded 21 CDs including several KJOS Music Big Band Samplers; The Music of Frank Sinatra (Bella Galla Big Band); Traditionally Speaking (Jack Brass Band); Taking Shape (Snowblind) and Run With It! (Hip-hop group G8). Scott was also a founding member and arranger for the Vector Trombone Quartet, which was a finalist in the International Trombone Association Quartet Competition in Helsinki, Finland in 2003. Scott is currently active as a clinician on low brass techniques and improvisation. Scott's recent research to determine modern trends in jazz curricula around the United States has been highlighted during the 2007 IAJE conference in New York.
Department Head, Music Theory
Dr. Jay Fuchs is a prominent music educator and a popular entertainer, music director, singer, piano player, composer, author and bandleader. Dr. Jay holds a Ph.D. and M.A. degree in Music Theory and Composition from the University of Minnesota (studied composition with Pulitzer Prize winning composer Dominick Argento), along with a B.A. degree in Vocal Performance from Minnesota State University in Moorhead, MN.
Jay is very active as an entertainer, performing over 100 gigs each year. He founded and directed the popular Twin Cities’ band Metro Jam. Jay and his dynamic partner Erin Schwab, entertain audiences all over the world. Jay is also a “first call” music director for many productions in the Twin Cities, including major awards shows, theater productions and corporate events.
Dr. Jay is a popular author of music education materials. His series Doctor Jay’s Music Lessons are used at a number of colleges across the country (including McNally Smith College of Music) as well as with individuals learning music on their own.
Jay is a veteran music educator. He began teaching at McNally Smith College of Music in 1991.
Gary has been a professional musician for 45+ years, working throughout the industry as a performer, composer, arranger and programmer. He studied piano with Lorna Michelson, Herb Wigley, Manfredo Fest, and Jill Dawe; Organ with Stephen Gabrielsen and Peter Hendrickson; and Guitar and Viola with True Sackrison and Ewa Bujak. Gary has performed with Tony Sandler, Marilyn McCoo, Robert Robinson, Brian Duncan, Ernie Watts, Othello Molineaux, Tim Ries, and the Minnesota Vikings Band. He continues to perform regularly with Marv Dahlgren, Yolanda Bruce, Cynthia Johnson, Judi Donaghy, the Sevilles, The Sleepers, his own band and others. As a composer/ synthesist with Herb Pilhofer Music, Gary composed music and designed sounds for numerous national TV ads including spots for Coca Cola, Discover Card, Target, and Porsche. He also performed on the soundtrack for the movie “Beautiful Girls” and coached the lead actor, Timothy Hutton, in piano technique. Gary hols a B.A. in Music from Augsburg College and a M.M. in Music Education from Boston University.
A native of Winona, Minnesota, Kennedy began his musical studies at the piano in elementary school. After winning a statewide composition contest in fifth grade, he discovered an interest in percussion and eventually graduated With Honors from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Music Education.
While attending the University of Minnesota, Kennedy won a national audition for the drum chair with the Disney All-American College Band, a select group of musicians from colleges and universities across the United States. Through this experience he lived in Southern California for three months and performed regularly at Disneyland in Anaheim, recorded at Capitol Records in Hollywood, and performed with multiple studio and jazz musicians including Rick Baptist, Shelly Berg, Wayne Bergeron, Bob Florence, Alex Iles, Sal Lozano, Andy Martin, and Jiggs Whigham.
In the Twin Cities, Kennedy is involved with multiple projects as both a composer and performer including the jazz quintet, Snowblind, the Jack Brass Band, and the jazz/hip hop collective, Big Villain co-produced by Grammy winning hip-hop composer and saxophonist Andrew Balogh (Drake, 50 Cent, Jay-Z) and Emmy Award winning, Grammy nominated engineer, Reid Kruger.
Kennedy has enjoyed professional collaborations with Ernestine Anderson, Katisse Buckingham, Taylor Eigsti, Mark Gross, Judith Hill, Richard Johnson, Joe Lovano, Delfeayo Marsalis, Gunther Schuller, Walter Smith III, and others. He has also had the privilege to study with Bernie Dresel, Peter Erskine, Jeff Hamilton, Phil Hey, Steve Houghton, Rich MacDonald, and Dave Weckl.
Adam Meckler is a trumpet player, composer, and educator living in Minneapolis, MN. He is an Edwards Instrument Co. Performing Artist and Clinician, and leads The Adam Meckler Orchestra (AMO), an 18 piece big band that plays his original compositions. The AMO's debut album 'When the Clouds Look Like This' was listed among 2014's Best Jazz Releases by iTunes. Adam holds faculty positions in trumpet and Jazz at McNally Smith College of Music, and MacPhail Center for Music. He tours and records with Youngblood Brass Band and Nooky Jones, and plays regularly with a host of bands around the Twin Cities including Lulu's Playground, The Jana Nyberg Group, Jack Brass Band, The Graydon Peterson Quartet, and The Pete Whitman X-Tet. His latest release 'Wander' by the Adam Meckler Quintet is now available through www.shiftingparadigmrecords.
Michael Menard is an accomplished classical guitarist and guitar teacher with the ability to play and teach many styles of music. Michael is also a successful bandleader and guitar player in several local rock bands. Michael holds a M.M. and B.M. in Classical Guitar Performance from the University of Minnesota. At the University of Minnesota Michael studied guitar with Jeffrey Van and James McGuire. Upon receiving his Masters Degree, Michael was asked to return to teach at the University of Minnesota, and continues to do so. He also teaches guitar at the Math and Science Academy in Woodbury, Eden Prairie High School, the Saint Paul Conservatory, and of course McNally Smith College of Music. Michael operates his own teaching studio for students of all ages. In addition to teaching, Michael plays at a variety of venues all over the Twin Cities, leading and playing guitar in the popular rock bands Young Lust and The Notties. In 2009 Michael served as Band Leader for the local production of Power Balladz.
Dr. Dan Musselman is a talented keyboardist, composer and educator. He holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Composition from the University of Minnesota, and a B.M. in Piano Performance from McNally Smith College of Music. Musselman has released three albums of original compositions and arrangements: Ruminations (2008); which contains all original improvised material on the piano and has over 200,000 plays on internet radio, Devotion (2013); a jazz trio/quartet album which has aired on over 240 radio stations internationally and features a suite of pieces that reflect the Bible, and A Modern Christmas; his dissertation project which contains “recompositions” of sacred Christmas hymns.
Musselman has led his own ensembles at several major venues in the Twin Cities, including the Artists’ Quarter and the Dakota Jazz Club, and performs annually at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival. He is a keyboardist for River Valley Church, one of the largest and fastest growing churches in the country, and also plays regularly for Wooddale Church. Musselman has written two books: Ear Training for the Modern Musician, Book 1 and 2 — both of which are in use at McNally Smith (Book 3 is nearing completion). Additionally, he has received many commissions for compositions/arrangements from organizations such as the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the University of Minnesota, and the men’s chorus Cantus.
Dan has been teaching piano lessons since age 16 and became a faculty member at McNally Smith in 2009.
An experienced performer as a soloist and with a wide variety of musicians, Chris Olson holds an M.M. degree in Jazz Studies/Performance from the University of North Texas and a B.M. degree in Music Education from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. Chris is on the board of directors of the Minnesota Guitar Society, and teaches at guitar and jazz camps in Shell Lake, Wisconsin and here at McNally Smith. Chris has been a performer and clinician at camps and festivals from Green Bay, WI to Cordoba, Argentina.