Website Update: WE’RE MOVING!!

I am slowly moving all my educational materials over to my new blog, the Jazz Improv Institute. You can find them at If you are looking for a PDF or chords, please go to and click PDFs and you will see them there. I am working on self-publishing all my warmups and tune packets to help people learn music and jazz improvisation. Thanks for visiting! I am going to redo this website to remove all my educational materials and focus on my creative endeavors.

Why We Need Jazz Girls Day DC – Women in Jazz Research

According to Lucy Green (1997), gender and music education researcher, the active areas of music-making – composing, improvising, and conducting – are traditionally male, while women are left the more passive areas of accompanying and teaching. Although there may be a reluctance on women to solo and improvise due to comfort level or anxiety (Green, 1997; McKeage, 2004; Wehr-Flowers, 2006), that conclusion may be not only outdated, but it leaves out a discussion on women who are emboldened and willing to participate in an improvisation based art form and have had difficulty procuring opportunity for work. Research shows that in middle schools, about 50% of jazz ensembles are women, but only 14% are female at the college level (McKeage, 2004.) According to a study of the NPR Music Jazz Critics poll, women never made up more than 16% of the core band personnel for the albums in the 2019 poll, and the majority of jazz albums ranked included no women musicians at all (Pellegrinelli, Effinger, Elizabeth, Grunenberg, Horn, Sebesky, Weiner, 2021).

The Genderization of Instruments

Jazz began in New Orleans when marching bands melded with Storyville ragtime and blues. According to Linda Dahl in Stormy Weather, “Marching on the streets, especially with a heavy brass instrument, just wasn’t considered appropriate behavior for girls. Even when the bands performed and used pianos (which was and still is the most common instrument taught to girls), many of the mothers just wouldn’t let the girls join them.” One of the reasons there are very few women instrumentalists and composers in jazz is partially because of the “genderization” of instruments. It wasn’t “Lady like” to play a brass instrument in the early 1900s, and the remnants of the “genderization” of instruments persists today manifested in jazz ensembles across the United States. It is important to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion in band recruitment sessions. Band directors should be willing to move a girl to the upright bass if that’s what they want to play. Women should be given the opportunity to play lead trumpet as there is no physical difference that would make it more difficult to play high. There is nothing a women can’t do on an instrument, and the size of the instrument is not a determining factor in success. Motivation, drive, discipline, and interest should be prioritized over gender norms.

Jazz Culture

Jazz is an apprenticeship system, where typically young musicians are hired by older musicians to gain experience before going out on their own. The majority of bandleaders, however, do not hire women, making it difficult for women to gain experience, contacts, and access to professional recognition (Pellegrinelli, Effinger, Elizabeth, Grunenberg, Horn, Sebesky, Weiner, 2021).

Additionally, women are often treated disrespectfully even if hired or leading the band. According to the Keychanges report published by the Cheltenham Jazz Festival in the United Kingdom, female jazz ensemble leaders reported sexual harassment by venue owners and industry professionals in December 2020 as part of the Cheltenham jazz festival (Edwards, 2021). The history of disrespect is not new, however, as evidenced by the stories told by Melba Liston on tour in the 1940s and 1950s, as the jazz industry had (and possibly still has) a “high tolerance of sexual assault” (Johnson, 2015). Jazz musicians should be able to pursue their art without having to fit into genderized norms.


Dahl, L. (1984). Stormy Weather The Music And Lives of A Century of Jazzwomen. New York: Pantheon Books.

Edwards, Tina. “Female UK Jazz Musicians Face Sexual Harassment and Discrimination, Says Report.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 16 Feb. 2021,

Green, L. (1997). Music, gender, education. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Johnson, David. “Proving Herself: Melba Liston, Arranger and First Lady of Trombone.” Indiana Public Media, 15 June 2015,

McKeage, K.M. (2004). Gender and Participation in High School and College Instrumental Jazz Ensembles. Journal of Research in Music Education, 52(4), 343.

Pellegrinelli, Lara, et al. “Equal at Last? Women in Jazz, by the Numbers.” WAMU 88.5 American University Radio, NPR, 12 Jan. 2021,

Raine, Sarah. “(PDF) Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival: Challenges for Women Musicians in Jazz and Ways Forward for Equal Gender Representation at Jazz Festivals.” ResearchGate, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, 1 Dec. 2020,

Wehr-Flowers, E. (2006). Differences between Male and Female Students’ Confidence, Anxiety, and Attitude toward Learning Jazz Improvisation. Journal of Research in Music Education, 54(4), 337.

The Effect of Ego on Education and Flow

In order to learn, your mind has to be in a relaxed state. When relaxed, you can explore, inquire, and enter “flow”. Flow is defined as that state of mind when you are focused, fully engaged, and deeply enjoying your task at hand. Game design theory is focused on getting gamers to “flow” state, which is why games are so popular, successful, and addictive.

When jazz teachers are constantly talking about the “good old days” – they are reminiscing about days gone by, the better days, but in that process they are inherently shutting down the learner’s pathway to learning, because their ego is in the way. A learner needs to feel safe and secure to learn, and the feeling of being “less than” their instructor is a blockage to security.

At the same time, learning doesn’t have to take place in a state of rainbows and unicorns. Students reach their highest level when their instruction hits at the zone of proximal development – that edge of their knowledge. It’s up to the teacher to find this sweet spot, put their learning into context, and pull them through a rigorous lesson so as to help them maximize their performance potential. If the focus is on the student, then efficient and effective learning will occur. Removing ego will actually raise the bar and incorporate rigor into the lesson.

Also to note, the teacher should be in charge. Ego does not have to equate to authority. There is an art to this which is very difficult to describe but innate in excellent musical instruction settings. It’s about empowerment and support. In excellent educational settings, there is one person at the top, which seems very autocratic, but that person is a leader in that they inspire, motivate and empower those below them. Leadership combined with musicianship and content knowledge empowers and educates learners to reach their highest potential.

One might say, I deserve my ego. I have paid my dues.

To those who say this, I don’t disagree. What I’m talking about is that rate of learning, that state of flow, the maximum increase of knowledge in the shortest amount of time. You can have an ego and teach. You can project your ego on others and they will still learn. It goes a little bit slower, that’s all. All I’m saying is to try to remove your ego from the classroom and you may see exponential results. Look at yourself as a leader, and lead by example. Remove the ego from the rehearsal, lesson, or bandstand, but carry it proudly off the podium.

Consider this ego when you are frustrated with their learning, when you are ready to throw in the towel. Music is a high pressure art form. You have a deadline, a goal, and you can scaffold your students to get there. The key is to remove blockages (perhaps of ego) and support them 100%. Tell them you’ve got their back. Students can withstand pressure and rise to the occasion if they feel supported.

Then, one might say, why? And this is my biggest beef with jazz “education”: I have a theory that a lot of teachers don’t want to see their students succeed because they will become competition. All I can say to that is, there is no competition if you are an artist. Nobody can replicate your artistry because that is who you are. Adopt a mindset of abundance and you will have all the gigs you want and need.

New Single: Cancer Free! Feat. Justin Taylor and Allen Jones

Cancer Free is now available on all streaming outlets, including YouTube. This song features Justin Taylor on organ and Allen Jones on drums was recorded live in 2017 at Upfront Audio in Fairfax. The song is about my experience getting tested for cancer and then finding out about negative results. Its designed to be the type of swing you can dance to and is written based off the chords to Bye Bye Blackbird. This was recorded by my Firebird Organ Trio, I hope you enjoy! Mixed and mastered by yours truly.

Click here to listen on all streaming outlets:

New single: What it Takes! Featuring Shacara Rogers, Chris Barrick, Karine Chapdelaine, Kelton Norris.

What it Takes featuring Shacara Rogers, Chris Barrick, Karine Chapdelaine, and Kelton Norris was recorded live on Saturday, January 23rd in the Crystal Ball room at Eaton DC for the Jazz and Freedom Festival 2021. View the Episode 2 tribute to Twins Jazz here if you haven’t already:

It was a pleasure to get to play and many thanks to the folks at CapitalBop (Luke Stewart, Gio Russonello, Jamie Sandel) for letting me mix and release this song.

Click here to listen on all streaming outlets:

New single: Aardvark!

Originally recorded in 2017, but never released on streaming, please enjoy “Aardvark,” now available on all streaming outlets. Featuring Sarah Hughes on alto and artwork, Miki Yamanaka on organ, and Savannah Grace Harris on drums. The theme of this song is about going after your goals and dreams! Click the link below for the linktree to all the various outlets.

New Single, Cherish, out now!

In these times, cherish the ones you love. New single, “Cherish”, out under my artist profile on all streaming platforms. Listen and be calm in the moment. Link tree below.

This is my memorial to my father in law, Wade Gunn, may he Rest In Peace. He passed away on November 21st, 2020, from congestive heart failure. As you listen, mourn your loved ones who have left us, but also know they are looking out for you on the other side.

Much love! Select the link below to access this song on Spotify, Apple music, Amazon, Tidal, or whatever streaming service you prefer.

ANNOUNCEMENt: Special Livestream Sunday, November 1st 2020 with a FULL BAND!

I am producing my first indoor live stream with a full jazz band on Sunday November 1st at 7 – 8 pm. The performance is sponsored by the Herb Alpert Foundation in conjunction with the Jazz Education Network (through their Jazz2U grant program). The performance will be broadcast on the Jazz4Justice Facebook Page as well as my personal social media, and the theme will be “Get out the vote!” I will be using this opportunity to educate audiences on the Justice Gap, the Rule of Law, and the need to support access to justice. One of the best ways to do this is to go out and vote! The concert will feature Shacara Rogers on vocals, Chris Barrick on vibes, Karine Chapdelaine on bass, and Angel Bethea on drums. This will be a LIVE performance with interaction and comments. I ask everyones patience as we navigate new this new technology! The audio quality will be excellent, I can assure you we have the equipment!

Full disclosure, I am program manager of Jazz4Justice. Jazz4Justice raises public awareness and funds for Legal Aid and music scholarships. We do this by forming collaborative partnerships with the legal community, the business community, the music community, and Universities. 

How to Navigate GarageBand – Part 1

If you were like me, you needed very quickly to figure out how to use GarageBand. I had difficulty understanding the navigation at first, however. Watch this tutorial to learn how to navigate the basic layouts of GarageBand on an iPad, including:

– Live loops versus tracks

– MIDI versus Audio tracks

– Length of song

– Metronome marking

– Basic quantization

– Recording MIDI

– Recording Audio

– Basic editing

This video is first in a multi-part series and also part of a course, Introduction to Garageband. Upon completion of the course, you will receive a certificate of completion and a Level 1 Garageband badge which you can place on your LinkedIn profile, and you will have access to questions and see examples of others going through the same course. Sign up to be the first to access the new course below.

Long Tone Exercise for LOW BRASS – Velvet Tone #2

By request! I’m back with a low low low range exercise. This one is a little shorter (just one octave) and is a great warm down or warm up.

One of the most enthralling sounds, to me, is hearing a really good bass trombonist playing fortissimo in tune with that perfect honk sound! Stay tuned and follow me on Social Media for video examples!

Download the PDF by clicking the button below and you will get all the parts for all the instruments. Then play along with my synth laden backing track, complete with swirling stars and a dance beat to complement that beautiful Low Brass Tone! My goal is to make long tones fun, I hope you enjoy!

Download PDF


We respect your privacy.

Long Tone Exercise – Velvet Tone #1

Hate long tones? You’re not the only one. I think we all might somewhat hate long tones, but we know we have to do it.

Why not play them with a cool backing track and gamify the exercise to make it fun?

Here you go! I created a backing track to make your long tones fun again. The basic idea is to start out in the middle of your range and then go up and down one half step each time. The goal is to keep a consistent embouchure while playing perfectly in tune as you gradually get louder and then softer on each note. You don’t have to play the entire exercise – it has been designed in a way that you could stop at any point.

As you play, be thinking about your air – there will be a switch between chest air and stomach air which will cause you to either drop or surge in air (and thus throw you out of tune, and/or make you really loud or soft). Work on exhaling with a steady stream of air so that you have an even tone throughout the entire long tone.

You want to think about tuning as well. The goal here is to play perfectly in tune as you gradually get louder then softer. If you want a bigger challenge, try to organize your breath such that you get louder at a steady rate (rather than all of a sudden) and then softer at a steady rate, starting as soft as possible and growing to as loud as possible on the horn. Fun times!

To gamify the experience, place your smart device in front of you with the smiley face tuning app, TE Tuner. The goal is to get the big green smiley face as you play – the entire time you play that note. You can adjust the settings to make it easier or harder as you play.

Three minutes a day, and you’ll be in great shape for your next gig in about three days. Do you have three minutes? Try it, it will be worth it!

Select the button below to download the PDF, which has parts for Eb, Bb, F, and concert pitch in bass clef, treble clef, and a master piano part. You will be asked for your email address on another page, and then you will be automatically redirected to the PDF. Hope you enjoy!


Enter your email to download the PDF.

We respect your privacy.

New Single, Beautiful Love, out now!

This is an arrangement of the old jazz standard, Beautiful Love. I wanted to add some spice to the chord progression and give it a flowing feel. The beat and feel is inspired by Astor Piazzolla, an Argentine tango composer. Many thanks to the artistry of Hope Udobi (keys), Karine Chapdelaine (bass) and Angel Bethea for bringing it to life!

Use this link to listen on your platform of choice:

New Single – What it Takes – Out Now!

This is the title track from my 2017 album release, which, believe it or not, was never released on streaming services. (I actually tried to release it on all the streaming services, but due to an error, it was never released. Probably an error on my part. Human error. 🙂 Please check out this song and add it to your playlists!

Use the link below to choose your service. Thanks for listening!

Featuring Shannon Gunn (tb), Sarah Hughes (as), Miki Yamanaka (p), Karine Chapdelaine (b), Savannah Harris (dr)

Click here for a link to pick your streaming service of choice: 

Check out my Music page for the full album stream, available on BANDCAMP only.

Review Roundup for Gunn’s Ablazin’!

The reviews are in! We received some wonderful reviews from Gunn’s Ablazin, and I wanted to share them with you below.

“Both very artistic and also providing social commentary, the incredible talent present makes it quite easy to see why Gunn was voted Best D.C, Trombonist in two separate years. Similarly, it wouldn’t surprise me if Gunn’s Ablazin’ finds itself being one of the best jazz albums this year.”

“The result is attractive earworms rather than distracting devices and gestures, as well as dancing melodies, insistent rhythms and wonderfully satisfying harmonies all of add the element of unusual textures…”

“But what is creditable is that Miss Gunn has managed to create music that is melodically, harmonically and rhythmically accessible even as it incorporates harmonic devices that are dissonant and on distortions and rhythmic ones that are based on principles of arrhythmia… In Miss Gunn’s case she achieves this with her quintet principally by employing the use of the metallic, wafting, glassy and oscillating, drifting and ethereal voice of the vibraphone, and the mindful tintinnabulation of the Fender Rhodes in the other group configuration; both of which instrumental relationship(s) is set against the rumbling, gruff smears and bellows of her trombone, glued together with rolling bass lines and the rattle and hum of drums.”

“This popular Washington D.C. jazzer isn’t afraid to take on a less likable D.C. denizen, the President, as her protest songs, “Babes In Cages Are Not OK” and “Orange Noise” attest. She’s so cool.”

  • Mike Greenblat’s Rant N’ Roll

“More than her instrumental prowess, this captivating recording also highlights Gunn’s superb musicianship and the relevance of her work both creatively and in the civic sense.”

“Gunn’s energetic improvisation balances buttery smoothness with an understated growl while bassist Mikel Combs lays down a muscular groove with swagger. “

“Gleason and Barrick’s contemplative conversation is delightfully dissonant and dovetails into Gunn’s extemporization with its fiery growl and pensive notes. The simultaneously irate and elegiac group performance is haunting as it shimmers and glows within a dramatic atmosphere. “

By HRAYR ATTARIAN at All About Jazz

“A snazzy set that opens the ears nicely, this is a listening date sure to keep you on the edge of your seat as your try to keep up with what’s going on. Smart throughout, it’s never to smart for the room with displays for the sake of display. Actually, dis plays! Well done. “

Midwest Record

“Here, where there is depth of sound, the expected overwhelming of the soundscape does not happen. Instead, warm, flexible notes are used to play up each song’s theme, leaving audiences surprised in a good way.”

“… the almost buzzy blend of trombone and keyboard is as relaxing as it is interesting…”

The Jazz Page

Jazz Weekly Blog

Jazz Square Russia

In a Blue Mood Blog

Many thanks to Kari Gaffney of KariOn Productions for her support in promoting the album!

Washington Post Review of Monday night’s Blues Alley CD Release Celebration

I was over the moon to play my new music Monday night, August 5th at Blues Alley with a stellar cast of musicians! Many thanks to Mike West of the Washington Post for the review of the performance, which was printed in the Style section on Wednesday. As my music evolves, I am so thankful to have the support of the DC community behind me, cheering me on as I break out as an artist. I have received so many anecdotal messages, from social media and folks in various circles. I have been so busy getting my album together, it is really gratifying to receive such positive energy upon its release. Thank you everyone!

Here is the link:

Photo credit Astrid Riecken.

Search Gunn’s Ablazin’ on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, Amazon, or Google play and listen/download to your hearts content! Thank you for your support of my music!

CD cover photo credit Tim Gunn

New Album “Gunn’s Ablazin” is out! Download now!

Gunn’s Ablazin’ new album out now available on all streaming services! This album features the Firebird Organ Trio and the Shannon Gunn Quintet. Please stream and download it today! Liner Notes below!

Apple iTunes:

Amazon Music:


Spotify coming soon

Liner notes:

1. Orange Noise: This is the second song in my two song presidential suite. Dedicated to all the lies on Twitter. So orange! [SG Quintet]

2. Missing Perspective: This song was inspired Kara Walker’s “Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated)” exhibit. It aims to bring to light the missing perspectives in the history books. [SG Quintet]

3. Babes in Cages are NOT OK. This is my protest song, children are still being separated from their parents, through smoke and mirrors, at the behest of the US government tax dollars. [SG Quintet]

4. Ellen: Written as a gift for (and inspired by) my friend Ellen, jazz hugs! [Firebird Organ Trio]

5. Ms. Cheverly: inspired by the mother of my good friend, Amy K. Bormet, for her unwavering support of women in jazz. This one is for Alice in Cheverly! (Maryland) [Firebird Organ Trio]

6. #canigetpaid: The song title is a hashtag, and it’s dedicated to Adams Morgan. [Firebird Organ Trio]

7. Cruash: When you crash into a crush, or crush into a crash. [SG Quintet]

8. Dinah: Seattle Grunge meets DC Go Go in this 1926 classic, Dinah – performed as you’ve never heard it before. [SG Quintet]

9. Carried Away: In the effort to make jazz relevant again, this is a cover of a popular tune by the artist H.E.R. Gotta get those streams up! [Firebird Organ Trio]

10. Gymnopedie #1: This is a cover of a classical song from 1888 by Erik Satie. [Firebird Organ Trio]

11. Cycal: This is a tune I wrote as a gift for my Father. His name is Calvin, and he is an avid cyclist, thus the nickname Cycal. He has biked across the country twice! The song simulates going up and down the hills on a bicycle. [Firebird Organ Trio]

12. Rainbow Connection: this arrangement was inspired by the passing of Aretha Franklin. [Firebird Organ Trio]

I hope you enjoy each tune!

Image of Shannon Gunn, download Gunn's Ablazin' today.

The Stories Behind the Songs: Gunn’s Ablazin’ (August 2019 Release)

Shannon Gunn will release her sixth album as a leader, and second album as a solo artist on Sunday, August 4th. The album, which tells a story and celebrates her writing, will feature two ensembles, recorded on two separate dates at BIAS studios by Brian Rivera (mixed, mastered, and produced by Shannon Gunn):

  1. Firebird Organ Trio featuring Hope Udobi on Keys and Kelton Norris on Drums
  2. Shannon Gunn Quintet featuring Chris Barrick on vibes, Garret Gleason on guitar, Mikel Combs on bass, and Kelton Norris on drums.

If you listen to the album in track order, each song tells a story. Read below for the stories behind the songs!

  1. Orange Noise: This is the second song in my two song presidential suite. Dedicated to all the lies on Twitter. So orange! [SG Quintet]
  2. Missing Perspective: This song was inspired Kara Walker’s “Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated)” exhibit. It aims to bring to light the missing perspectives in the history books, especially in the United States. [SG Quintet]
  3. Babes in Cages are NOT OK. This is my protest song. It is absolutely unacceptable that kids are being separated from their parents at the border. It’s still happening, through smoke and mirrors, at the behest of the US government tax dollars. [SG Quintet]
  4. Ellen: This is my jazz hugs song, designed to be listened to after you hear Babes in Cages. Written as a gift for (and inspired by) my friend Ellen, isn’t she wonderful? [Firebird Organ Trio]
  5. Ms. Cheverly: I was listening back to one of my live shows, and heard this very overt group of cat-callers and whistlers in the back of the room. I realized this was the mother of my good friend, Amy K. Bormet, with all her comrades, and she deserved a song for all her support of Women in Jazz. This one is for Alice in Cheverly! (Maryland) [Firebird Organ Trio]
  6. #canigetpaid: Yes, the song title is a hashtag, and yes, it’s dedicated to Adams Morgan. Sweet, then angry. [Firebird Organ Trio]
  7. Cruash: When you crash into a crush, or crush into a crash. (They don’t teach you that in school!) [SG Quintet]
  8. Dinah: Seattle Grunge meets DC Go Go in this 1926 classic, Dinah – performed as you’ve never heard it before. [SG Quintet]
  9. Carried Away: In the effort to make jazz relevant again, this is a cover of a popular tune by the artist H.E.R. Gotta get those streams up! [Firebird Organ Trio]
  10. Gymnopedie #1: This is a cover of a classical song from 1888 by Erik Satie. Often played by beginning pianists, I love the overlapping phrases, odd harmonic structure, and potential for synergy within the harmony. A Firebird classic. [Firebird Organ Trio]
  11. Cycal: This is a tune I wrote as a gift for my Father in 2012. His name is Calvin, and he is an avid cyclist, thus the nickname Cycal. He has biked across the country twice! Ocean to ocean! This tune flips between a double time swing feel and funk, and depicts the ups and downs of the hills while biking. [Firebird Organ Trio]
  12. Rainbow Connection: I wrote this arrangement of the tune, made popular by Kermit the Frog in the early 1980s, directly after Aretha Franklin’s passing. Her music inspired so many, and she was absolutely amazing! [Firebird Organ Trio]

I hope you enjoy each tune! Coming soon! I’ll add audio clips once I get them up.

What it Takes – Lead Sheets

Alright. I’m doing it. Self-publishing 100 songs in 100 days. Follow me and download freely.

What it Takes is a tune I wrote in the aftermath of the November 2016 election. This song, “What it Takes,” is dedicated to the leadership of Barack Obama. It’s about what it takes to become president, to pull a country out of recession and charge it forward. People don’t become president by accident, their journey starts in childhood with leadership, community, speaking, writing skills. Leadership is an art, and Barack Obama was awesome at it. This song is dedicated to the ability to keep us out of war. I truly loved this president, and cannot say enough how he has helped us as a nation.

Below is the link to the sheet music and a video of our performance from that awesome fun night. Please follow, subscribe, donate, and I’m happy for you to download the PDF and share it, play it, talk about it freely!

Hope you enjoy!

Facebook Insta YouTube Twitter

What it Takes Lead Sheets (includes Eb, Bb, and C parts)

Clicking the link above will ask for your email address, then I ask that you donate $4 or more using credit card, optional. (honor system) Minimum donation is set to $1.00. Upon donation, you will be automatically directed to the PDF music sheets, 14 pages, with parts for C, Bb, and Eb instruments. It may take up to 30 seconds. Please email me if you have any problems! Thank you for your support! I am on gmail as jazztothebone. IF the donation poses a problem for you (example, you are under 18 and don’t have a credit card yet), please email me and I’ll send it to you personally. Use jazztothebone at gmail. I would love for other folks to play this tune!

The selected Optin Cat form doesn't exist.

For Immediate Release: The Washington Women in Jazz Festival Presents Jazz Girls Day DC

for high school and middle school students

Saturday, March 30th, at 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
John Calvin Presbyterian Church in Annandale, VA

With Special Culminating Free Concert Led by Women Jazz Musicians Featuring Women Jazz Composers

4:00 pm

John Calvin Presbyterian Church in Annandale, VA

(ANNANDALE) — The Washington Women in Jazz Festival is honored to present the first ever Jazz Girls Day DC workshop and concert on Saturday, March 30th, at John Calvin Presbyterian Church in Annandale, VA. The day will begin with workshops and tutorial lessons for student musicians. The day will culminate in a student led jam session followed by a free concert open to the entire community. The events will take place at John Calvin Presbyterian church at 6531 Columbia Pike, Annandale, VA 22003, where there is ample free parking.

            Jazz Girls Day is open to Middle and High School students who identify as women or gender non-binary. The workshops will be taught by professional women jazz musicians: Amy K. Bormet, piano; Karine Chapdelaine, bass; Shannon Gunn, trombone; Tina Raymond, drums; and Charmaine Michelle, trumpet. Please visit for the bio of each faculty member. Students will be exposed to jazz pedagogy, a friendly jam session, a free concert performed by powerhouse jazz musicians, and will have the opportunity to network with other musicians.

About the Washington Women in Jazz Festival

Created by Amy K Bormet in 2011, Washington Women in Jazz hosts an annual festival (WWJF) each March to celebrate the women of the DC jazz community. Bormet and her colleagues develop, promote and lead a wide array of concerts, jam sessions, lectures, panels, discussions, and master classes.  A highlight of the festival is the Young Artist Showcase, where high school and college women are given a platform to perform and connect with professional jazz artists.

About Shannon Gunn

Hailed by the Washington City Paper as “D.C.’s Best Trombonist 2015” and the DistrictNow Blog as “Best Trombonist 2017,”  DC based Shannon Gunn is known for her exceptional tone and her grandiose project-du-jour. She is currently the artist in residence on Tuesday nights at Columbia Station in Adams Morgan as leader of her band, the Firebird, named “DC’s Best Small Ensemble 2016” by the Washington City Paper. She also runs DC’s premiere all-women jazz orchestra, “Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes,” including successful performances at the Kennedy Center, Castleton Theatre House, DC Jazz Festival, Blues Alley, Washington Women in Jazz Festival, Takoma Park Jazz Festival, Jazz on Jackson Place, Westminster Jazz Night, Great Gatsby Inaugural Ball, Goethe Institute, National Jazz Workshop, Gallery O on H, Bohemian Caverns, and Dardanella.

For more information, please visit:                   

# # #

Press Contact
Shannon Gunn
216-789-5310 | [email protected]

3 Ways to Show Respect in Jazz: A Woman’s Perspective

Photo Credit Lawrence A. Randall

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend a wonderful panel presentation, “Will Women be the Savior of Jazz?” at the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival. This panel was led by Sunny Sumter, Executive Director of the DC Jazz Festival, and panelists included artists Regina Carter and Chelsea Green. The panelists described their experiences as a women instrumentalist on the jazz scene while Sunny asked questions to explore the topic of women in jazz. The topic of respect came up several times, and I am writing this post to give 3 ways we can all show respect on and off the bandstand. I truly believe that jazz is intertwined with social justice, and we should embrace inclusivity, respect, and activism as part of the music of jazz. The good news is, these tips will work for anyone, not just help women in jazz.

Tip #1: Be Early

As a band leader, it took me about 5 years to realize that when musicians were late, it affected my playing. This may sound crazy, but my improvisation chokes up when I’m stressed. Improvising music requires vulnerability – the ability to relax allows thoughts to flow and creativity to inspire. When folks are late, I found myself in a stress ball and more concerned about their well-being than the music. The best thing you can do for yourself as a musician is to be the most reliable, on-time person in the world. Show up an hour early.

Tip #2: Don’t be Weird

If a woman instrumentalist wants to talk about music, don’t treat her any differently than you would a friend. Women instrumentalists are missing out on the camraderie, and this affects their longevity in the profession, development as musicians, and economy of playing. Hire a woman for their playing, and do not objectify them. I have seen women get hired time and time again because dudes were searching, looking, and hoping. I’ve seen women placed in dangerous situations when they think they are going to a “session” but it turns out to be a weird sort of trap. Women play no differently from men, and they should be treated with the same respect you would a brother or a best friend.

Tip #3: Differentiate between Ego and Confidence

I see jam sessions as toxic environments when people cut off someone else’s solo only to take 16 choruses of their own. This annoys the heck out of me, especially when folks don’t know changes. Women get pushed out and off, and that makes it difficult to keep going. At the same time, it’s a two way street – get up on the bandstand with a plan, a solo that arcs, and play music that is interesting enough that folks will want to listen more. To me, this scenario is an example of the difference between ego and confidence. I try to have high self-confidence but low ego. When someone cuts me off, I view them as insecure, with a big ego and low self-confidence. They have something to prove, and need to push others down to get there. Try to work on competing with yourself, plan your personal bests, and let others do their thing. There is no need to insult anyone, make excuses, and create strife. Just do your thing, and let others do their thing too. And keep your solos to 2 choruses at the jam sessions, folks.

What do you think? What are ways we can all create a more respectful environment? Respect for women is beneficial to everyone; it will lift the profession, which will in turn lift the economy of the music, the venues, and Jazz.

2019 – The Year of Apps in Browsers

Recently, I deleted Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter from my phone. I almost immediately felt a lift in spirit, and have not regretted it since. I still have the accounts, just deleted the app, that’s all.

First of all, the invasion of privacy is astounding. Pay close attention to your ads. Have you ever searched for that item? We all know our searches are tracked and then ads are targeted later. If you put an item in a shopping cart online, and then abort, you will get retargeting ads a few minutes later on Facebook.

What really concerns me are the ads for items I did *not* search for.  Our phones are listening and our conversations are constantly mined for “keywords.” Companies pay big money to drill down their advertisements to people talking about a problem they can solve. I’ve seen this happen on my own accounts with large ticket items. Try having a conversation around a few of the following topics, and then pay close attention to the ads you see on Instagram and Facebook. Say the following words aloud.

1. I want to switch careers. I wonder if it would be helpful to have an MBA. I wonder where I should get an MBA. I need figure out what I should do for my career… [keep going, make stuff up]

2. Let’s go on vacation. Hawaii? Costa Rica?

3. I need a new mattress…

4. Honey let’s buy a house

5. Need a new kitchen, bathroom, I need new windows

I would even go so far as to say that these high value keywords are still recorded when the phone is off.

(please note – I am not an expert, just describing what I’ve seen)

Try it!

It’s legal because we agree to this in the terms and conditions.

There is something about these social media apps that causes a bit of jealousy, especially seeing other musicians’ gigs. You might say, but you need social media as a musician? To promote gigs?

First of all, I’m not sure how useful social media is for promoting live shows. It can help propel the wave of marketing, but print and curated media is still king. I would question the effectiveness of social posts. I have seen one, maybe two people come out to a show because they saw a social post, per gig, but it’s never a huge impact.

Facebook Ads do work, but that’s not really a strategy I want to use, if I can help it. That’s more for venues and large orgs.

What posting really does is give cred amongst other musicians, and builds rapport. That’s musician-to-musician business, though, not musician to audience marketing. Musicians are watching each other – checking out new venues, looking for sessions, you know the drill. It’s good for the industry to see what you’re up to. You have to constantly feed your social network and fans with new music (videos, recordings, etc.)

So how does one continue to stay in the eyes and minds of the industry, without sacrificing self-confidence and “FOMOOG” (fear of missing out on gigs)?

The answer, my friend, is to push out social posts with apps in browsers. Simply open Safari or Chrome to the social media site of choice, post your selfie/video/text, and get out. Close the tab. You can post video and pictures to Facebook, and pictures only to Instagram. You can only use IG via browser on your phone, not the desktop. You can view and post to Twitter with your browser. The only one that has been sticky is Pinterest, they force you to open your recipe for the best chocolate brownies in the app. So download and then delete when done.

I am having difficulty deleting Facebook Messenger. I’m not seeing any ads, so I don’t think it’s tracking me (yet), but I’m not an expert. FB Messenger is the most reliable way to reach a lot of folks, and also gives me a way to book people I have met but don’t have their phone number.

Cut the endless scrolling, go get coffee with friends, and cut those social media strings!

Ah, where was I on Instagram stories?

Just kidding!!

By the way, everyone under 25 has figured this out. This post is for us old folks, millennials and older.

For Immediate Release: The 17th Annual Jazz4Justice Concert features a new partnership between George Mason University and Legal Services of Northern Virginia

George Mason University School of Music

featuring a new partnership between George Mason University
and Legal Services of Northern Virginia

Friday, November 16, 2018 at 8 p.m.
Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas

Saturday, November 17, 2018 at 8 p.m.
Center for the Arts in Fairfax

 (FAIRFAX)— George Mason University’s School of Music presents the 17th annual Jazz4Justice LIVE! concert and fundraiser on Friday, November 16 at 8 p.m. in the Hylton Performing Arts Center and Saturday, November 17 at 8 p.m. in the Center for the Arts. The events raise funds to directly support vital legal services and the George Mason University Jazz Studies program. Information and tickets are currently available at and

For the first time, Jazz4Justice™ is presented in partnership with Legal Services of Northern Virginia (LSNV), the largest legal aid organization in Northern Virginia. “We are looking forward to partnering with Jazz4Justice™ as well as the entire Mason community to promote justice for a better community by providing civil legal assistance to those facing the loss of a critical need,” affirmed Marcy Kossar, Director of Development for LSNV.

James Carroll, Professor of Jazz Studies and Mason Jazz Ensemble Director, has assembled a stellar musical program for the upcoming Jazz4Justice™ performances. He shared, “we are excited to feature alto saxophone virtuoso Charlie Young, Professor of Music at Howard University and leader/Artistic Director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. Charlie is, absolutely without a doubt, ‘the best’. In addition, we will feature amazing student musicians and compositions from Mason’s Jazz Studies Department, and there will be an open jam session hosted by Mason students following each concert. We will also be producing a live recording of the concert. We truly hope local audiences and arts supporters can join us for this wonderful collaboration between Mason Jazz and the legal community.”

Tickets to Jazz4Justice™ at the Hylton Center are available in person at the Ticket Office (open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.), by calling at 703-993-7759, or at Tickets to the Center for the Arts’ concert are also available in at the Ticket Office (open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.), by calling at 703-993 2787, or at

About Jazz4Justice

In 2000, Fairfax attorney Ed Weiner attended a student jazz recital. He was impressed by the music but distressed by the small audience. As the President of the Fairfax Law Foundation, he saw an opportunity for a new partnership – universities would provide the musical talent and the local legal community would provide the audience and sponsors. Today, Jazz4Justice concerts are held throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Thus far, Jazz4Justic has raised over $350,000 for music scholarships and an array of educational and charitable services benefiting Virginia’s local communities. Jazz4Justice has received awards from the American Bar Association and the Virginia State Bar.

About the School of Music

The Mason School of Music is part of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Students study with nationally and internationally recognized faculty who are active performers, conductors, composers, music theoreticians, historians, and music teachers. Admission is based on acceptance to the university and audition. The music program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).

About the College of Visual and Performing Arts

The College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) provides an academic environment in which the arts are explored as individual disciplines and interdisciplinary forms that strengthen one another. The college prepares students for careers as creators, performers, teachers, scholars, arts leaders and arts entrepreneurs. Understanding that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the Center for the Arts, the professional presentation and production arm of the college, welcomes a variety of professional and world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Students have the opportunity to perform, create and exhibit their work in a wide variety of public venues including a 2,000-seat Concert Hall. CVPA is home to the Schools of Music, Dance, Art and Theater, as well as the Computer Game Design, Arts Management, and Film and Video Studies programs.

About George Mason University

George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 35,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility.

About Legal Services of Northern Virginia

Legal Services of Northern Virginia (LSNV), a private, not-for-profit organization, offers free legal services to low income individuals and families, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities and victims of domestic violence residing in Northern Virginia. With 7 offices located throughout the region, LSNV completed more than 6,000 cases in 2017 benefitting 15,000 individuals, providing assistance in the following substantive areas:

  • family law, focusing primarily on matters which include domestic violence
  • housing law which includes eviction and foreclosure prevention cases
  • consumer law
  • public benefits
  • veteran’s affairs
  • employment law
  • elder law
  • child advocacy
  • education law with a focus on children with special needs
  • HIV/AIDS Project

LSNV’s mission could not be accomplished without the generous support of the Northern Virginia community. We thank you for your support and invite you to learn more about how we benefit the community at

Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes to Perform at Republic Restoratives 3/2

Get Tickets:

Start out the evening with a classy cocktail around 5:30 pm inspired by the community spirit that is Republic Restoratives, a new women-owned distillery turned venue in town. They are located just a few blocks north of the Angelika pop up and humane society on New York Ave in Northeast DC. There is plenty of parking (free for 2 hours) within a block in the Hecht’s garage. All ticket holders are given 20% off drinks. Feel free to drink water or soda, it’s not required to drink alcohol. Around 7 pm we’ll convene intro the huge industrial style back room.  You can also order food to be delivered, and there is a nice pizza spot nearby that delivers to the distillery. There are about 10 restaurants within a block, and Union Market is also really close.

Audience members will enjoy a trek through time following the changes in style of the jazz tradition with performances of arrangements by Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Oliver Nelson, and Thad Jones. Following their tribute to the masters, the jazz orchestra will play world premieres of new music by band members as well as groove arrangements of recent popular music. This will be a nice event, and we hope to see you there!

Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes
All-female Big Band
March 2nd, 2017 @ Republic Restoratives Craft Distillery and Bar
1369 New York Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002
7:00 and 9:00 Sets
Tickets range from $7 – $15

Tickets for each set will be sold separately. Ticket holders for the 7 pm set are welcome to stay through the 9 pm set.


Leigh Pilzer, alto sax
Halley Shoenberg, alto
Megan Nortrup, tenor
Julieta Eugenio, tenor
Michelle Acton, Bari
Mike “Bags” Davis, trumpet
Ginger Turner, trumpet
Alison Rogers, trumpet
Shannon Gunn, trombone
Nicole Connolly, trombone
Amy Bormet, piano
Adi Meyerson, bass
Ana Barreiro, drums

Bullettes to Perform September 20th At Castleton


This is a cross posting to my other blog for my all-woman big band, Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes.
The Bullettes are busy this month! 
We hope you can join us this coming Sunday, September 20th, to kick off the Castleton in Performance series at the Castleton Theatre! This is a very prestigious event and we are extremely excited to perform there. 
At Castleton, the theme is to encourage young people in jazz. We will feature Caeley Niess (recognize that name?) on trumpet playing “Portrait of Louis Armstrong.” Yup, you read it right. We also have Jazz Academy All Star Ingrid Winkler on Baritone Sax joining us for a rousing rendition of “Moanin’.” Finally, I am super excited to invite Catie Story, Sam Sandler, and Dan Lyster-Mensh from Fauquier High School to the stage to help fill out our band for Nestico’s arrangement of “Fly Me To The Moon.” It will be a swingin’ affair! I have really enjoyed working with all of these high school students. The concert will benefit the Fauquier High School band program and will feature a history of jazz in the concert, topped off with originals by band members. I am extremely happy and blessed to get to play with such amazing musicians! Not to mention we have Sarah Hughes flying in from Boston, Miki Yamanaka coming in from New York, the amazing Jessica Boykin-Settles on vocals – you get it, the list goes on and on! Please check out our roster below!
Here are the details:
Sunday, September 20th
4 – 6 pm
Castleton Theatre House
7 Castleton Meadows Lane, Castleton, VA, 22716
(Please note: there is no cell data service out there)
Tickets are $20 to $40 and can be purchased here:
We will also be on the Morning Show at CBS in Richmond, VA on Friday, September 18th, at 9 am, to promote this upcoming Castleton performance! I am excited to bring in Adi Meyerson and Miki Yamanaka from NY as well as Jessica Boykin-Settles, Lydia Lewis, Alex Flanagan, and Caeley Niess to perform on TV! Many thanks to my folks for putting up the band!
Additionally, we’ll be going into the studio on Wednesday to record some tunes for our upcoming album, “Bullettes and Friends.” We will be releasing this album on Saturday, October 10th, at the Durant Center in Alexandria, VA, presented by Nomadic Jazz. Tickets are $25 in advance and $33 at the door. Anyone who purchases an advance sale will get a complimentary copy of the CD. We will make a limited run! I am extremely proud and excited to present new original music to you all. Here is the link for ticket pre-sales: .
We hope to see you soon! As always, please feel free to hit reply and let me know how you are doing!
Keep swingin’!
Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes
September 20th:
Jessica Boykin-Settles, Vocals
Sarah Hughes, Alto
Halley Shoenberg, Alto
Michelle Acton, Tenor
Megan Nortrup, Tenor
Alex Flanagan, Bari
Mike “Bags” Davis, Trumpet
Cheryl Terwilliger, Trumpet
Caeley Niess, Trumpet
Kirsten Warfield, Trombone
Shannon Gunn, Trombone
Miki Yamanaka, Piano
Cyndy Elliott, Bass
Savannah Harris, Drums
Ingrid Winkler, Bari sax, Rockville MD
Catie Story, Trumpet, Fauquier HS
Sam Sandler, Trombone, Fauquier HS
Dan Lyster-Mensh, Fauquier HS


Subscribe to Email List

You will be the first to know about the course.

We respect your privacy.