GRAMMY nominated music educator Steve Holley served as the Producer for the Commercial Music Program at the Kent Denver School outside Denver, CO, for 19 years. During his tenure, the R&B, soul, salsa, and jazz bands in the CMP were recognized by DownBeat Magazine’s Student Music Awards fifteen times, performed with dozens of Grammy caliber artists, played hundreds of gigs throughout the US, and performed abroad at the Festival del Tambor, Montreux Jazz, and Porretta Soul Festivals in Cuba, Switzerland, Italy, respectively. 

Steve holds a BM in Jazz/Classical Bass performance and an MM in Jazz/Classical Bass performance, both from the University of Memphis. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Music Education at Arizona State University where his research foci includes blended approaches to teaching and learning, developing an inclusive, well-rounded, transformative music education experience for all, and realizing curricula around popular music education. 

In addition to being an educator, arranger, performer, and musical entrepreneur, Steve is a sought after clinician with performances, master classes, and presentations given at the Jazz Education Network, National Association for Music Education, Association for Popular Music Education, Modern Band Colloquium, and several state MEA conferences. More recently, Steve has written several articles for In Tune Monthly, Teaching Music, and multiple blogs and newsletters for NAfME and JEN, and several state MEA journals. He currently serves on the board of the Association for Popular Music Education and is the author of Coaching a Popular Music Ensemble - Blending formal, non-formal, and informal approaches in the rehearsal, the definitive guide for developing and coaching popular music ensembles. 

He's available for consulting, clinics, recording sessions, arranging, master classes, live gigs, articles, guest directing, conference presentations, keynotes, and dog walking. 

Research Interests

I recently began pursuing a Ph.D. in Music Education with the forward-thinking faculty at Arizona State University. My current research/interests include the areas of:

  • Blending traditional pedagogical techniques at the crossroads of popular/commercial music education in an effort to create a more culturally responsible, diverse, and inclusive learning culture
  • Utilizing non-traditional styles of music in the classroom, on the stage, in the recording studio, and in songwriting to build vocabulary, foster creativity, and develop confidence in students
  • A comparative analysis of best practices in popular music education in the US and the UK
  • Mentoring the next generation of music educators in an effort to further the paradigm shift occurring in music education
  • Collaborative songwriting in Memphis and Muscle Shoals
  • The trajectory of PME and the historical/pedagogical arguments in relation to jazz/traditional education


Steve Holley CV - updated July 2020