Richard DeRosa is currently a tenured full professor at the University of North Texas where he has been Director of Jazz Composition and Arranging since 2010. Many of DeRosa’s students have received numerous prizes and awards for their work in addition to having recognition from Down Beat magazine, ASCAP, BMI, and JEN. Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers acknowledged DeRosa’s work and accomplishments in 1994.

DeRosa remains active as a Guest Artist Presenter Clinician and Adjudicator for schools, festivals and conferences both nationally and internationally including (among numerous others) Essentially Ellington Festival (Jazz at Lincoln Center), JEN (Jazz Educators Network), Texas Jazz Music Educators Association (TJMEA), AJV (American Jazz Venues), American Choral Directors Assoc., Northwest University, 36th Civebra (Brasilia, Brasil), Veneto Jazz (Italy), Stockholm Institute for Music Pedagogy (Sweden), Kunglica Musikhogskolan (Stockholm, Sweden), Edward Said Conservatory (Palestine), The Berlin Youth Jazz Orchestra (Germany), The St. Louis College of Music (Rome, Italy), and Melbourne Jazz (Australia).


Photo by Sopon Suwannakit
The St. Louis College of Music Big Band – Rome, Italy
The St. Louis College of Music Big Band – Rome, Italy


Acoustic and MIDI Orchestration for the Contemporary Composer: A Practical Guide to Writing and Sequencing for the Studio Orchestra is co-authored with Andrea Pejrolo and published by Focal Press – 2007 – (available on Amazon).  An additional edition has been printed in Chinese (2010). An augmented 2nd edition that includes writing for traditional and commercial vocal ensembles was released in 2016.

This book is designed to unite the traditional music world with the 21st century genre of music production. It helps musicians with extensive experience in traditional orchestration to embrace the necessary aspect of computer music production while helping younger musicians who may possess the latest electronic gear but who have little or no experience of writing for actual musicians.

Concepts for Improvisation – a comprehensive guide for performing and teaching:
Houston Publishing, Inc. – distributed through Hal Leonard – 1997.

This book is designed for any musician who wishes to learn how to improvise and for teachers wanting to include improvisation as part of their curriculum. Although today’s jazz musicians are extremely accomplished improvisers, it is certainly possible for classical or pop musicians to learn this skill. This is why the word jazz is omitted from the title. For traditional music educators in particular, this book clearly provides a logical curriculum with plenty of original examples and effective exercises to help any teacher become more effective in teaching improvisation to their students.


Philosophy of Teaching – it is important to teach to the appropriate level of the student; essentially what the student needs, not what the teacher prefers to teach. Within that narrower scope, a balanced and greater context should also be established to foster a continual expansion of the learning process. Clear concepts are important for greater understanding. Ultimately it is best for the student to have a comprehensive knowledge and ability. Artistry and free expression are important but so are craft and discipline. Any creative process requires imagination and certainly courage. So it is important for the teacher not to intimidate the student. Knowledge instills confidence and confidence replaces fear.

On Composition – original music should be sincere. The composer should have a distinct point of view and be able to capture it, regardless of style or aspects of simplicity or complexity. Comparisons to relative “greatness” (especially for the student) can be subjective. Students should embrace multiple styles and disciplines that will evolve into a sincere individual identity of self-expression. Production and accomplishment, not innovation, is most important in the beginning pursuit of the process.

On Arranging – unlike composition, this activity is usually collaborative which means that the professional arranger ultimately learns how to write on demand. There is usually a specific deadline. The style, instrumentation, and performance time are usually factors that determine the scope of the arranger’s creative work. (See the video interview above – The Art of Jazz Arranging – Richard DeRosa.) The student learns this process through assignment writing as various opportunities present themselves (in or out of school).

On Improvisation – many people believe that only jazz musicians can truly improvise. While it is true that most professional jazz musicians are accomplished in this skill, it is possible for classical (or any other type of) musicians to learn how to do this. In fact, Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven were improvisers! My book, Concepts for Improvisation (Hal Leonard 1997), was written to help any musician learn this skill. This is why the word JAZZ is omitted from the title. More importantly, this process can be taught in a systematic way via a logical pedagogical approach that any music teacher may utilize to get solid results. Especially with the young student today, where the attention span may be limited, it is crucial to use methods that are simple and effective. Students must meet with success (at some level) as soon as possible. With specific techniques, the teacher can control the learning environment by creating a fail-safe musical path that the student can readily engage in and enjoy.

Rich DeRosa has taught me so much in my studies at UNT. He has the rare combination of being a world-class performer, arranger, and educator. What he brings to the classroom is a combination of top-flight real world experience and the ability to break down complex ideas into layman’s terms. He is a true master of the craft.
During my time at UNT, I had the honor of publishing a big band piece called Honeybee with Bob Curnow at Sierra Music. Rich helped guide me through the process of composing and orchestrating the piece and also provided critical career advice as I approached this valuable opportunity. Rich has cultivated an environment in which students have these stepping stones that lead to long-term career opportunities.
Aaron Hedenstrom (DMA student at UNT – jazz composition, awards recipient from BMI, ASCAP, JEN and DownBeat)
Drew Zaremba (composition student) is the 1st prize recipient of the prestigious canpus-wide Sherman-Barsanti Inspiration Award for his outstanding compositions for orchestra, choir, and big band.
Kyle Gordon (composition student) is the 3rd prize recipient of the prestigious campus-wide Sherman-Barsanti Inspiration Award for his score to Buster Keaton’s silent film “One Week”.
Workshop in Brasilia, Brazil
Workshop in Ramallah, Palestine

Artistic Director of American Jazz Venues (AJV)

American Jazz Venues is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization founded by Rich’s late father, the legendary band leader and innovative music educator Clem DeRosa. It is comprised of jazz artists, educators and enthusiasts from diverse professions and backgrounds. Organized in 2001, AJV’s singular focus is to preserve America’s indigenous musical art form: jazz.
Read more about the DeRosa Method

Former Teaching Affiliations Include:

William Paterson University (1999-2010) Tenured Associate Professor – Jazz Arranging.
The Juilliard School (2003-2010) Adjunct Professor – Jazz Arranging for Studio Orchestra.
Manhattan School of Music (1982-1998) Adjunct Professor – Arranging/Improv/Theory.
Princeton University (1983-1985) Director of student jazz ensemble.
Lehman College (1984) Guest Lecturer in residence (jazz drumset performance).
New Jersey City University (1980-1982) Adjunct Professor – drumset, ensembles.