Derrick Michaels

Saxophonist - Composer - Educator

Baltimore-based tenor saxophonist whose approach is at once unapologetically lyrical and uncompromisingly dynamic. 

integrative lessons in saxophone technique & improvisation

Derrick Michaels Saxophonist/Educator/Composer/Bandleader  Efrain Ribeiro-photography

Derrick Michaels Saxophonist/Educator/Composer/Bandleader

Efrain Ribeiro-photography


Lessons in musical improvisation serve to nurture one’s creative impulses, liberating a spontaneous & personal form of expression.

While the nature of improvised music is rich and complex, our process as improvisers is rather simple: we develop vital ideas, in real time, with clarity & intention.

Our goal is to develop a unified creative music practice, which Integrates spontaneous melodic development with ear training & instrumental technique.

connecting our ears with our instrument facilitates freedom of expression



I work to narrow gaps in instrumental technique & musical expression by focusing primarily on musical PHRASING, or the FLOW of our musical ideas.

PHRASING, as it relates to the unfolding of a melodic idea, yields the greatest reward for the improviser. This orientation has immediate benefits in the short-term, while yielding tremendous long-term effects.


Matters of tone, articulation, dynamics, & rhythm are applied to our interpretive study of melodies from the jazz canon and beyond.

Our technique serves the music, in each and every phrase. Our creative process is short-changed if we neglect this aspect of our music.

IMPROVISERS are introduced

to our creative raw materials…

Melody, Harmony, Rhythm, Phrasing, Texture, Space, Interaction, Thematic Development/Variation, Composition, and more are explored along the path to musical self-actualization. These micro-level elements, when combined with our study of interpretation and technique, help the improviser connect with the big picture of musical creation.

EAR-TRAINING for all musicians…

Strong ears are central to the work we are doing. We explore solfege, interval identification, harmonic sequences, and transposition of melodic ideas - learning to sing and play each idea. This allows us to play what we are hearing in the moment!


the jazz tradition…

We will demonstrate and explore the language of our musical heroes.

More importantly, however - students are emboldened to create and develop their own melodic ideas, LEARNING TO COMPOSE IN THE MOMENT.

This approach to improvisation offers a supplemental approach to what is offered in many academic circles, by favoring note-to-note decision-making over rote memorization of classic patterns.

This approach to practicing music stimulates a process of personal investigation, accelerating the student’s ability to develop musical impulses from within their own imagination, and nurturing your dedication to the art form.

It’s all about connecting dots!

“The Great Unfolding” performs at An Die Musik  Efrain Ribeiro - photography

“The Great Unfolding” performs at An Die Musik

Efrain Ribeiro - photography


Developing a holistic approach to instrumental technique, which envelops the practice of fundamentals into our creative process.

Committing to every sound with 100% conviction, in both our practice & our performance.

Establishing practical ear-training methods which cultivate an ever-deeper connection between our ears & our instrument.

Devising compositional strategies which guide us toward the spontaneous development of thematic material.

Addressing phrasing within the context of “jazz” performance, elevating our interpretation of melodies with a heightened sense of creativity and spontaneity.

and more…

Derrick Michaels Quintet  Efrain Ribeiro-photography

Derrick Michaels Quintet

Efrain Ribeiro-photography

interested to learn more?

send me an email