A few weeks ago, the students had the opportunity to see 3 of their teachers on stage for the first time. Therefore, at Piano’s we could listen to Stephen’s funny lyrics, watch Ryan’s energetic play, and Jeff’s smooth rhythm. Jeff’s performance was a real surprise to students who had known him only as an English teacher. Even if he left the school to go back at the University and study music, we wanted to give him this tribute for the 4 marvelous years he spent teaching at the New York Language Center.
Jeff is very discrete about his playing. His first instrument was the saxophone. He started playing it when he was 12, and never thought about changing to any other instrument. In his opinion, the saxophone’s tone is the most similar to the human voice, and it’s also very flexible. He can play a lot of different styles.
In his childhood, Jeff was into sports and music, a rare combination for a high school student. Normally, sports guys don’t play music, and vice versa. However, Jeff was different; he didn’t want to be stuck in one stereotypical box without having the opportunity to enjoy different options. He was indeed good at both of them, he could perform on stage with his Jazz’s band, and run after the ball in the Baseball field. However, after he injured his shoulder, he focused 100% on music.
Jeff started to evolve thanks to his private lessons when he was a teenager, and then he continued learning in college. Therefore, he studied a double degree in Music and English. He decided to take a major in Jazz Performance in the University of Michigan. During his studies, he had the opportunity to do a semester abroad in Italy where he improved his Italian, and discovered a new passion for “La Comedia Del Arte”. Jeff fell in love with the Italian style, and considered teaching in Europe. Nevertheless, to reach this new aim, he had to get his CELTA, Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adult. Thus; he came to NYC in order to study in Cambridge. He took intensive courses, and he got his certificate. By coming to NYC, his motivation changed a little bit. The Big Apple is a seducer you fall for easily. He started enjoying the City that never sleeps, he has a lot of friends here, and his sister is also living in NYC, and most importantly he really loved his teaching job.
Jeff started teaching at NYLC in 2007, and enjoyed meeting so many people from everywhere around the world sharing the same ambition of learning his native language. Italy became a faraway thought when he begun to enjoy living in NYC. He was thirsty of teaching, but started to wonder about his interest in music. He stopped playing since he went to Italy, and back in America, he couldn’t stop thinking about how to head back to his instrument. Art was always part of his life either through music or theatre. He was focused mainly on his teaching until he had an incident in 2010 with his left ear. After an accident with an airhorn, he started to feel a difference between his two ears. Music had never been such a necessity for him. But suddenly, it became vital. He realized the importance of the saxophone in his life. He figured out the responsibility he had to bring music into his life. First, he started by playing for himself and for his friends, then he met musicians who were interested in forming a band. Despite the big challenge of playing Jazz in New York City, he decided to form a band in June 2011. The Jeff Walton Quartet is composed of four musicians (what else!), Sebastien Ammann on piano, Spencer Zahn on bass, Ian Chong on drums, and last but not least Jeff Walton on saxophone. They have all been committed to music for a long time, and most of them are working exclusively in the field. Jeff started in the spring 2011 to teach music. He had a full schedule where he had to deal with teaching English and Music, and performing. That’s why he decided to leave the school to focus on music. Based on his last successful performance, he certainly had to give it a shot. He definitely knew how to keep the attention of the standing audience. The audience was able to hear every single note, and watch the intense movement of Jeff’s body with his instrument. They formed one whole shape, where we could deeply feel the music…
Good luck Jeff, and see you around!