How long have you been playing piano?
I have been playing piano for over 25 years, and professionally for over 7 years.
Damian A. Garcia is currently a senior at the University of North Texas studying towards a degree in Jazz Performance. His interest on the piano began at the age of 2 and began his private piano studies at age 5 with various instructors. During these years, Damian was accepted to the National Guild of Pianists and was a national member for four years. Although trained classically on the works of Chopin, Beethoven, and Bach, Damian became attracted to jazz at the start of his freshman year of high school. This curiosity sparked his determination in the genre and soon began a journey as a passionate budding jazz pianist.
During high school, Damian was named “Outstanding Jazz Soloist” at the Texas A&M – Kingsville Jazz Festival three years in a row, “Outstanding Jazz Musician” at the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Jazz Festival, ranked top five in the state at the Texas Music Educator Association (TMEA) All-State Jazz auditions, and won “Best Jazz Soloist” at the Rio Jazz Festival in Harlingen, Texas. Additionally, Damian garnered various accolades in University Interscholastic League (UIL) music competitions and served as jazz pianist for United High School’s top jazz ensemble for four years.
Upon graduation, he attended Texas A&M University – Kingsville (TAMUK) on a music scholarship and held the position of pianist in the university’s top jazz ensemble for three years. While a student at TAMUK, he was a member of the Wind Symphony and performed at the TMEA Convention in San Antonio, Texas. After three years of attending TAMUK, Damian decided to transfer to Texas State University and further advance his studies in classical and jazz music. At Texas State, he joined the studio of Dr. Jason Kwak, as well as earning spots in the university’s top jazz ensemble and small groups.
His recent move to the Austin and San Antonio area has accelerated his career as a pianist. Damian’s past performances include the Texas Association of Music Schools, the National Association of Schools of Music and Steinway & Sons. He has also had the privilege to perform along side many great musicians such as: Paquito d’Rivera, Claudio Roditi, Wayne Bergeron, Frank Wess, Butch Miles, Bob Mintzer, John Fedchock, Taylor Eigsti, Jamey Aebersold, and local jazz artist and teacher Freddie Mendoza.
A frequent traveler, Damian has attended the Stanford University Jazz Residency, University of North Texas Jazz Workshop, and was accepted into the Professional Diploma Program in Jazz Composition at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston under a $16,000 scholarship. Additionally, he was also selected to perform in the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia National Jazz Ensemble in Orlando, Florida under the direction of Jamey Aebersold and Jim Ketch (University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill) and awarded the Piano Achievement Award by the Texas State University School of Music. He plans to attain his degree at the University of North Texas while maintaining an active performance and teaching schedule. Damian currently studies piano with Stefan Karlsson and Michael Palma. Past teachers include Hank Hehmsoth, Ray Santisi (Berklee College of Music), JoAnne Brackeen (Berklee College of Music), Taylor Eigsti (Concord Jazz), Lee Tomboulian, and Michael Weiss of the Village Vanguard in New York City. His goal, after earning his bachelor’s degree, is to be accepted into the graduate program at the University of North Texas for graduate studies jazz performance. He is a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society, and the world famous Two O’Clock Lab Band at the University of North Texas.