Getting Schooled in South Central

Ariel Alexander

Dr. Ariel Alexander has gained recognition as a Los Angeles jazz saxophonist, composer and educator. Originally from St Louis, Ariel earned her B.A. at Indiana University and her M.A and Doctoral degrees from the University of Southern California. She is a faculty member at Chaffey College and Los Angeles Southwest College. As a saxophonist, Ariel has performed with Take 6, Nancy Wilson, Natalie Cole, Patti Austin, Stevie Wonder, Ruben Studdard, James Moody, Jon Faddis, and Monica Mancini. Ariel also arranged for and plays on Steve Miller's (Steve Miller Band) forthcoming CD to be released on Capitol Records. Ariel owns Rock Star CD Recording Workshop (, a mobile recording studio for kids and teens. Rock Star Workshop travels to over 200 events a year.

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2 Responses

  1. Sam Benamy says:

    Dear Doc Ariel,

    Great to respect contriubtions and culture of kids. But too bad you threw away your hard-worked lesson plans. If the assignment was a seven-minute presentation and you believed in that assignment why’d you let the kids stretch it to 70 minutes? Life ain’t like that. My boss asks me to take ten minutes to tell about a class project at a faculty meeting, she means ten minutes not one hour. Plus, I came from a blue collar family. Art history and appreciation and music history and appreciation courses changed my life. I would never have gotten out of those courses what I did if the teacher had handed the class over to someone with a special interest in let’s say folk or bluegrass. Take your goal—putting the kids in charge of their own learning—to the ultimate expression and what dya get? Kids learning whatever they think they should learn without teachers. The whole idea behind school and universities is that their is a tradition and body of knowledge to be transmitted. Without this system, every generation would have to re-invent the wheel. Your students felt appreciated and listened to. But challenge in new areas is good. And you cheated them of the learning for which they signed up and you were hired. Was it a course in musical expression or music theory? No, it was uspposed to be music appreciation: an overview of music hsitory and genres.

    I admire your commitment and flexibility. But rethink your duties to tradition and the musical history that has come before you.

    Best wishes for your continuing success,


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