Lenard Simpson

Lenard Simpson

#PeopleofNIU Photo by Wade Duerkes/Institutional Communications

Hometown: Milwaukee, WI

Major: Jazz Studies

Why did you choose NIU?
The Jazz program here is an amazing program. It’s one of the best in the world. The faculty is amazing. They’re also not just good at their instruments, but they’re also great human beings. It just makes me feel home being here. I love the community here. It’s a friendly competition, but also everybody is here to build each other up. Everybody is here to push each other to reach their full potential.

What are you studying and why?
I’m studying jazz-saxophone. I’m studying jazz music because is a part of my culture, but also it’s my favorite type of music to listen to. It’s fun, jazz music a part of me. I feel like that’s why I’m put on this earth, to play this music.

Who are your favorite professors and why?
This is hard. I love every professor here, especially in the jazz faculty and the whole school of music. Ones that have had a huge impact on me was the old professor of jazz studies here Professor Ron Carter, Professor Reggie Thomas, my saxophone instructor Geof Bradfield. With Professor Carter and Professor Reggie Thomas, they’ve known me since high school. It’s always been this mentorship with them. They’ve always pushed me to do better no matter what it was, whether it was school or just playing music. Professor Bradfield, he really opened my eyes up to a lot of new music. He‘s also pushed me really hard, and pushed me past what I was comfortable with. I like that; I like when people push me.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned so far?
That it’s okay to make mistakes. I’ve learned that it’s okay to make mistakes. A lot of times we put a lot of pressure on ourselves, everything has to be perfect. It’s okay to make mistakes because those are opportunities to learn and to grow. That’s when you make your most improvement, when you do make those mistakes.


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