Manhattan School of Music

“Odoriferous Manifestus!” exclaimed Steve Wilson, as he rushed back into our fifth floor lesson room yesterday.  He had stepped out to rinse his mouth of trail mix before playing his alto sax but couldn’t bear to go in, let alone near, the men’s room.  Welcome to Manhattan School of Music (MSM), one of the premier conservatories for jazz and classical music.

MSM 1st fl ladies roomMSM 3rd fl ladies, my favouriteIn just a couple weeks, I will be officially deemed a master of jazz by MSM and be halfway qualified to write for JAZZ TOILET.  It’s too bad that I am not also getting certified in plumbing, because then I would be fully qualified to write for this blog and employed.

In all seriousness, I’m grateful for the past two years and hopeful, as I get ready to graduate with a more concrete idea of how to make a living as a musician and a clearer vision of my artistry.  A can-do spirit abounds at this particular institution, whether due to pure inspiration or the necessity of having to create your own opportunities, especially if you are not one of the select department cronies.  Inspiration often springs from necessity, and there is great need in a school with scarce scholarships, limited practice space and faulty elevators.


MSM hosts a vast number of concerts throughout the year, many of them free and open to the public.  You will hear some of the most high-level jazz found anywhere in student recitals and Cafe Jazz performances.  If you visit, here is what you need to know about the bathroom situation –

Other than the restrooms inside the library, the newest facilities are located between Miller Recital Hall and Ades Performance Space, on the way to the adjacent dormitory building.  The ladies room on the first floor is ideal for times you need to get ready for a school performance, equipped with a wide counter and a full-length mirror.  The third floor one is a personal favorite, being the only ladies room with a window.  The other floor restrooms, going up to the sixth floor, are generally stinky and can be downright dangerous for men, as I illustrated at the beginning.  Note that the building uses the European system of numbering floors and thus, the first floor starts above ground level.*

MSM 6th fl ladies toiletMSM ladies stalls by Ades

Contrary to the perception of MSM as a strictly straight-ahead jazz kind of school, the master’s curriculum centers on Dave Liebman’s chromatic, “out” approach to improvisation.  And while the dogmatic theoretical process seems to be the opposite of the indefinite contemporary improvisation methodology I learned as an undergrad, the end result in performance can be similar.

Do you want cold water or cold water? (2nd fl ladies)Now that I’ve written this post summarizing grad school, rearranged the furniture in my tiny room, caught up on season 8 of How I Met Your Mother and started sewing my Macbook a thermal sleeve, I will work on my big band chart, choral conducting paper and other finals.  If anyone is looking to hire a procrastinator, send me an email.

Orundell from Guyana tells us how to say our key phrase in Creole.  Say hello to him when you walk by the security desk at the door.

Can I use your toilet? Can you tell me where’s your toilet?


*UPDATE: MSM has altered its floor numbering system so that the entrance level is now the first floor. Thus, it now goes up to the seventh floor instead of stopping at six. Also, since the new president has come on board at the end of academic year 2013, there have been renovations all over the building including in the old elevators. Lastly, Cafe Jazz has been rebranded as the Jazz Room Series.