Jonathan has been teaching individual and group music playing and appreciation courses since 2009. He has served as a public, private and charter school educator for the Afro-Latin Jazz Academy, The Gramercy Brass Orchestra of New York, New York Ensemble Classes, the Lyceum Kennedy International School, Jubilee Enrichment Programs, Jazz Empowers and the New York Jazz Academy. Dr. Saraga also served for 6 college semesters as a Graduate Part-Time Instructor for the University of Colorado Boulder, where he taught multiple ensemble classes as well as three semesters of a Jazz History lecture course. Jonathan has also been teaching privately for over a decade and has accumulated over 30 5-star YELP REVIEWS. He teaches out of his home studio on the upper east side, complete with weighted 88-key digital piano, a high-quality Bose speaker system, professional audio and video recording equipment, as well as musical media and sheet music spanning many musical genres, cultures and time periods. Dr. Saraga specializes in the following areas of applied musical study: Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Composition/Songwriting, Arranging, Music Theory, Sight Reading, Ear Training, Music Appreciation, and Music History (includes classical, jazz, and world musics).
Private Trumpet Instruction
Private Piano/General Music Lessons
Jonathan specializes in the following musical instruments, crafts, and fields of study:
...and can teach the following topics to anyone on any instrument, craft, or field of study as it relates to them:
physical posture and approaches
placement & usage of equipment
science of musculature
thoughts & mental energy
breathing & physical energy
concept and voice
use of space
development of voice
patterns, fragments, & shapes
harmonic manipulation and movement
"Jonathan Saraga teaches as he performs, with patience, gentleness and thoughtfulness. These are rare qualities and can often be the deciding factor between a young person who opens themselves and one runs away intimidated by the inherent difficulties of learning a new language such as music. Jonathan has these qualities in abundance and has been that deciding factor in many a young persons decision to take the risk, discover their gifts and leap with confidence into the infinite."
-Arturo O'Farrill (GRAMMY-award winning pianist, composer, arranger and band-leader)
"Jonathan, a trumpet student of mine in his formative years, has not only developed his musical gifts to extraordinary levels, but has himself learned how to give these gifts back to up and coming generations. He has participated on the staff of Gramercy Brass Band Camp @ MSU over many years, and has made solid contributions as an instructor, trumpet sectional leader, ensemble performer and featured soloist. In these many capacities, Jonathan has been a reliable, motivational and energetic colleague."
-John Henry Lambert (Ph.D., Band Director, Music Educator, United Nations International School, Gramercy Brass Orchestra of New York)
"Recently, Jonathan Saraga conducted a master class on improvisation, with 100 members of my 8th grade Senior Band. Although, most of the students had never improvised before, Jonathan made a game out of this art form, and showed the kids some fun ways they could create instant music with their present skills. His open and relaxed personality, along with his musical expertise created a non-threatening, environment. The kids loved it, and even the most self conscience students volunteered to participate. They were amazed and proud of how good they were able to sound. I was impressed by Jonathan’s creativity, and with his ability to excite these middle schoolers. It was an inspiring class for all."
-Fran Vogel (Music Department Chairperson, Robert F. Wagner Middle School, NYC)
"When he (Jonathan Saraga) visited my school, he was prepared, knowledgeable, and met my students at their level with ease. While communicating clearly and honestly, he easily led them in a discussion of advanced improvisational concepts, and coached them as they performed. They were deeply affected and impressed by his musicianship and his obvious passion for music and personal expression. I’m honored to have hosted him at my school, and my students won’t soon forget their encounter with this dynamic, excellent musician."
-Nate Sutton (Band Director, Music Educator, PS 126 / Manhattan Academy of Technology)
"Jonathan is an extraordinary person. Creativity is his way of being and any student or audience that encounters Jonathan will be blessed with his brilliant aesthetic sense and nature. Jonathan is a deep thinker, a soulful being who puts 100% into every endeavor he is involved in. He brings humor, beauty, soulful depth, and integrity to the world, as a musician, an artist, and a teacher. As a professional musician, professor, yoga instructor and healer, I highly recommend working with Jonathan!"
-Meg Ruby (M.M., Professor of Piano, University of Mass., Lowell MA, RYT 300, Sound Facilitator)
"Thanks to Jonathan's classes I managed to overcome certain problems that stem from the difficulties of the instrument (trumpet) and at present I continue with my studies of trumpet in Granada (Spain) bearing the educations in mind that were transmitted by Jonathan Saraga."
-José Alejandro Calero Díaz (Ph. D. Czech Language, Dpto de Filología Griega y Eslava)
"As a returning trumpet player, I have spent the past 7 years unpacking and refining skills long dormant, in preparation for the opportunity to have Jonathan Saraga, a Master Trumpet player, as an instructor and mentor. Beyond Jonathan's musicianship, he is a skilled educator that seeks to build upon a student's success and then assist them in their development. His attention to detail, analysis and evaluation of where I am currently and what is needed to complete my goals have proven very instrumental in my development as a Jazz Musician and Trumpet player. The classroom is just the threshold of Jonathan's dedication as he actively encourages his students to seek out opportunities beyond their comfort zones to assist us in becoming better performers through active mentorship. This quality and dedication has aided me in my development as a Jazz Trumpet performer. He is a fantastic Trumpet teacher. I highly recommend him as someone you can trust to identify your current successes, build on them all while challenging you towards new accomplishments."
-Dr. Jorge G. Trevino, DBA (Faculty Adviser Military Programs, Penn State University)
"I just started learning how to play trumpet. And, I tried to self-learn a bit from 'how-to' videos on youtube but I always felt like I was doing something wrong. For starter, my trumpet pistons were not installed in the correct position. Jonathan pointed out that I might want to check that, and he was right. As soon as I fixed that, I started to sound a little better. So props to Jonathan for that. There are a lot of new things Jonathan taught me that I couldn't learn from just watching youtube videos. Jonathan correctly diagnosed what i am doing wrong, and gave me the better/efficient ways to play the trumpet. I strongly believe that the practice routines Jonathan assigned specifically for me will accelerate my learning process. I've already seen a noticeable improvement for myself, and I really feel like I am in good hands, so to speak. He is also very passionate about learning. With Jonathan, I felt like not a single minute in my 60-min session was wasted because everything Jonathan said was very helpful and inspiring for me. This is my review of Jonathan, and I highly recommend him!!!"
-Samuel (Boston, MA)
"I was looking for a trumpet teacher for my 11yo who was a total beginner (though he did already read music) and Jonathan came highly recommended by a friend. I am so happy and thankful that we found him. My son is never bored by his lessons, practices on his own without having to be told (a first!) and has already shown an incredible amount of improvement in just a few weeks time (literally went from having trouble getting breath into the instrument to being able to play basic songs). Aside from this, I find that Jonathan is incredibly organized, thoughtful and patient. I also appreciate that he keeps me informed about the lessons and is constantly encouraging my son by pointing out how well he is doing. Moreover, he seems to really "get" the kind of student my son is and is able to tailor the lessons in a way that keeps him motivated to continue learning the instrument. In sum, I highly recommend Jonathan and appreciate his overall awesomeness."
-Teba B. (New York, NY)
"I recently started taking remote trumpet lessons from Jonathan after hearing his playing on social media. I was looking for a teacher with a modern conception in order to assimilate more modern jazz language. After around 10 lessons, I can confidently state that Jonathan is one of the best teachers I've had the pleasure of studying with. He is patient and kind; I instantly felt comfortable. His tremendous amount of knowledge regarding jazz theory allows him to thoroughly, yet succinctly explain advanced concepts easily. We mainly focus on improvisation concepts, but Jonathan is also a masterful technician on the horn, and I look forward to picking his brain about sometime. Can't recommend him enough!"
-Adam P. (Los Angeles, CA)
"I highly recommend Jonathan. He is an excellent trumpet teacher. He is prepared, patient, organized. He meets his student where they are in their trumpet learning journey and then teaches them in such a manner that growth happens quickly and soundly. My 13 year old son looks forward to his lessons each week. When this pandemic hit, we quickly shifted from in-person lessons to online lessons and there has been no change in progression, Jonathan did not miss a beat."
-Tara S. (New York, NY)
"Being an amateur or beginner trumpet player, I could not have asked for better. Suitable, patient, heartfelt honesty and earnest criticism allowed me to grow as a trumpet player. Watching his effortless use of the trumpet compelled me to be more disciplined and prudent. Instilling the fundamentals of how effortlessly the use of a trumpet felt great. I began to believe in my own skills and attempted to hone in on them. Only in eight one-hour sessions, I benefit a lot from him. I tapped into my own intuitive nature and regained an admiration for Jazz. I was delighted with my lessons. Jonathan Saraga's capacity to translate music to a beginner such as myself is extraordinary."
-Tau H. (San Fransisco, CA)
"Jonathan is a phenomenal player and teacher, and masterful technician. I started playing trumpet in the 7th grade and continued into college. But i have been off my horn for the last 25-30 years. and recently decided to pick it up again. At which time I discovered there was some things going on in my playing that i didn't know how to correct. In a short period of time Jonathan has been able to diagnose the problem and explain why I was having the issues i was. Jonathan also was able to via zoom make some technical and methodical corrections, resulting in improved execution. Jonathan is well qualified as instructor. The most gratifying and enjoyable part of my lessons is being able to witness as he demonstrates principles and techniques he incorporates in his lessons. Jonathan, dude thanks for everything."
-Darryl W. (Hollywood, FL)
"Jonathan Saraga kindly agreed to take me on as a student, and I am so grateful to him. Musicians who play at his level have a lot of choices and I am an absolute beginner to jazz and an 'older' adult learner and he worked with me anyway. His musicianship is at the highest level which makes him a great role model, but in addition, his teaching is superb. (I am a high school chemistry teacher, and I know good pedagogy when I experience it!) At each lesson he listens to my goals and customizes his teaching to my needs, which have ranged from basic transcribing notation to creating my own improvisation. He treats me with dignity in spite of my lack of experience and he supports me as he focuses on what I am doing well already while pushing me to grow at each lesson. I am a vocalist developing jazz expression with my voice while also learning to work with a band at a jam or a gig. Jonathan listens to all of my questions and calmly and methodically answers them. Because of his own discipline, organization, and professionalism, I want to rise to his level and be the best I can be. I look forward to every lesson meeting with him and feel that every single minute in his presence is a learning opportunity."
-Katherine E. (Boulder, CO)
"Our 12-year-old daughter is really into music and recently started composing her own songs. She was interested in finding someone to help her improve these skills and that's when we met with Jonathan. Jonathan was amazing with her. He listened, complimented and then showed her how she could, if she wanted, add different elements to each song to make them more interesting. These lessons were super helpful to her and her songs grew in wonderful ways. Thanks Jonathan for all your help and support."
-Celia W. (Boulder, CO)
"Jonathan taught my son for six months while we were in Boulder. He really helped him take his playing to the next level. Even though my son is only 10, Jonathan has turned him into a serious and enthusiastic musician. He has been friendly and helpful throughout and has understood both the need to tailor his eduction to his pupil's age and the value in not treating a budding trumpet player like a baby. We are leaving Boulder, and will be sorry to say goodbye to Jonathan. I would recommend him unreservedly."
-Jack S. (Boulder, CO)
"Jonathan has been a fantastic trumpet teacher for our 12 year old daughter. He is always extremely well prepared, organized and patient. His lessons are long enough to learn but not too long to get bored. He keeps things moving and fresh. Our daughter has progressed quickly since she started lessons with Jonathan!"
-Jules H. (Monroe, UT)
"Jonathan has been teaching me piano and is an excellent instructor. He is very patient and has been massively improved my ability to play, and has made learning fun."
-Connor O. (Boulder, CO)
"Although I've been playing music for several decades, my theory skills needed a lot of help. Enter Jonathan, who was easy to reach and very accommodating. He is a solid musician, but also an excellent educator. He was intent on understanding what I was looking for, got a reading on the state of my skills, and quickly understood my learning style. Our sessions have been consistently challenging in a positive stretch sense, and I've left each one of them with both enthusiasm and more insight. His approach has been optimally balanced, and his attitude great. I'm very fortunate to have found him."
-Dean M. (Conifer, CO)
"Jonathan came over to our apartment to share his love of music with our kids. He shared stories about his favorite trumpeter (Clifford Brown), the inspiring teachers he had in high school and college, and how he decided to pursue his dream of becoming a professional musician. He was extremely patient with our kids and played for them (and also with them, improvising a duet as they honked away). We had a wonderful time, and took away something very special from that evening."
-Mariana P. (New York, NY)
"Jonathan has a wealth of knowledge and technique at his disposal to help convey what musical ideas we are working on during our lessons together. Some concepts we explored included Chord Analysis, Motivic Development, and Chord Dictation. What I look for in a teacher is someone who can read where I am and help elevate me from there, which he does without making me feel small or self conscious. I really enjoy our lessons and would recommend him to anyone looking to improve and realize their own potential!"
-Elliott B. (Boston, MA)
"Jonathan is a really good instructor as well as an accomplished musician. This is my 8 year old son's first experience with music lessons and they're a good match. He looks forward to the piano lesson and is pretty happy to do the little bits of homework after. It's been a great experience for us."
-Lizzie M. (New York, NY)
"We have an eight year old son who has longed to play the trumpet since he was five. We decided this was the year he would begin and spent months meeting and speaking with various instructors for private lessons. Within moments of speaking with Jonathan on the phone, we knew he was the perfect instructor for our son. Jonathan is a dedicated, driven and masterful musician who also possesses a great talent for teaching. He is patient, creative and flexible in custom tailoring lessons based on each sessions progress. He strives in setting attainable goals, engaging and challenging skills for each and every lesson all the while instilling core principles for a solid foundation. It has only been a few short months in working with our son who had never picked up a trumpet before meeting Jonathan and just last week, we found our son was conceptualizing his own songs inspired by his time with Jonathan. We feel so incredibly lucky that our son is in the hands of such a talented musician and an incredible instructor."
-Danielle M. (New York, NY)
"Jonathan gave me a number of lessons in advanced jazz theory, harmony, and improvisation. He is highly knowledgeable and skilled as an improviser, and was great at communicating this to me. If anything was unclear I would ask more questions and Jonathan did a great job of explaining the concepts in ways that were easy to understand. I highly recommend him to students of any instrument that are seeking to learn more about jazz and improvisation."
-Daniel F. (New York, NY)
"A very knowledgeable instructor on music theory, trumpet, and jazz in general. I worked with him for a semester and we focused on improvisation. He is a great teacher and can help any player improve on something."
-Greg M. (Littleton, CO)
"Jonathan Saraga has been teaching my four sons piano for over a year. They range in age from Kindergarten to ninth grade. Jonathan has been kind, patient, and caring with each child. He engages them easily and uses age appropriate learning techniques. My six year old has never had lessons before Jonathan and he has made leaps and bounds of progress. Jonathan has instilled a new found passion for piano with all the boys. They readily practice and actually compose their own original songs! Jonathan also tutors my 12 year old on the trumpet. I'm happy to say he received and "A" as his final grade due to Jonathan's help. I highly recommend Jonathan as a private music teacher tutor."
-Patrick M. (New York, NY)
"Jonathan is the best that an independent music teacher can be. He is extremely patient, kind, and encouraging. In addition, he knows how to help children overcome difficulties He is an amazing teacher and mentor to my 11 year old grandson. If you are looking for a music teacher for your child, I highly recommend Jonathan."
-Carolyn S. (New York, NY)
"Brilliant teacher. Technically masterful, appropriately demanding yet supportive. Makes my 8 year old feel excited and motivated, and also proud of his progress. Perfect instructor for a young musician."
-Louis F. (New York, NY)
"Jonathan has made a great impression with my son. He displays a great combination of patience and encouragement with Nick. I have seen an improvement in his trumpet skills as well as his confidence."
-Joanie M. (New York, NY)
"Had a great lesson with Jonathan! He was able to break down complicated concepts into small and easy pieces and this way we were able to achieve a lot."
-Amit G. (New York, NY)
"Jonathan has been a wonderful teacher for my 13-year old son. My son leaves every lesson filled with energy and excitement about what he has learned. In just a few short months, my son's skills have improved dramatically! When our schedule has become complicated due to other commitments, Jonathan has always worked with us to find another time so that my son doesn't have to miss a lesson. I would highly recommend Jonathan as a skilled trumpet instructor."
-C.R. (Louisville, CO)
"Jonathan has been teaching me piano and is an excellent instructor. He is very patient and has been massively improved my ability to play, and has made learning fun."
-Connor O. (Boulder, CO)
"As a beginner and amateur player, I am continually grateful for having Jonathan Saraga as a lesson teacher. Studying trumpet isn’t a rote march through technical exercises and graded études; rather, he guides each session embracing the totality of musical expression. From our first lesson, Jonathan emphasized breathing, tonality, mindfulness, theory, posture, improvisation, and, of course, technical execution. As I’ve progressed in my studies, Jonathan has kept musicianship and joy at the fore without sacrificing precision or technique. I am pushed to challenge myself but never to the point of frustration. Jonathan is generous of his time and can both run a clear lesson plan of warmup/drill/sight-read/homework as well as spin an exciting session off a particular question or problem brought to the table. Any student of trumpet seeking to express themselves musically while fostering genuine musicianship will benefit from his lessons. There are a lot of trumpet teachers who can walk you through Arban’s while keeping music theory or improvisation at bay until you’re “ready.” However, if you’re dedicating yourself to learning trumpet, you’ll be far better rewarded by Jonathan’s holistic approach, and allow yourself to engage in music – all of it – from the outset."
-Jillian Murray (New York, NY)
"The best trumpet and theory instructor I have, very detailed and does not leave anything to question in your pursuit of musical education and/or musicianship. You don't need to be hardcore but you need to be dedicated to learning if you have the right mindset I cannot recommend him highly enough. The first time you meet him bring some samples of a music or musician your striving toward he will give you the right guidance. Like I said he is really cool, not overbearing or too hardcore just right."
-Curtis B. (Elizabeth, NJ)
"Yo, if it wasn't for Jonathon Saraga giving me my lessons. I wouldn't be blowin the way I am today. He hooked me up with the real deal breathing diaphragm technique that leaves you with an effortless approach. He has so much knowledge of this instrument that I recommend him highly as a trumpet teacher."
-Joseph F. (Honolulu, HI)
"I have been working with Jonathan for a few months now on improvisation, musicianship, ear training, theory and harmony and other things. I highly recommend him to anyone who wants to become a better musician. Jonathan is very knowledgeable, intelligent and patient. He is demanding and nice at the same time which are qualities of a great teacher. If you are serious about improving your trumpet playing, learning to play jazz, learning music theory, expanding your improvisation skills or improving your musicianship, Jonathan is a great teacher for you."
-Yana A. (New York, NY)
"Jonathan teaches trumpet as simply an extension of breathing. First he emphasizes good breathing and posture, and then he aligns you naturally with the instrument. By the end of the first lesson I could relax and achieve a real trumpet tone. Amazing."
-Glenn D. (New York, NY)
"Recently, while at a jam session at a club in New York City, Jonathan Saraga was in the house, and he "stepped up to the plate." As he started playing, my head started turning; I was totally awed by his technique, intonation, phrasing, the ease of his performance, and, oh, that gorgeous sound!
My training had been on the upright bass, but I have been playing trumpet for about 16 years, and was looking for an instructor with newer, fresher ideas. We set up an appointment and I must say that, from the very beginning, he turned out to be the person I was looking for in order for me to become more proficient: very knowledgeable, patient, and above all, focused. There's no doubt in my mind that Jonathan is one of the best young performers/instructors in today's New York music scene."
-Rodrigo S. (Elmhurst, NY)
I was planning a trip to NYC and was looking for a trumpet teacher for my daughter who plays in her school jazz band. Booking was very easy and Jonathan was very accommodating to our schedule. I was able to sit in during the lessons and was very impressed. Not only is Jonathan an amazing player he is very knowledgeable and patient. He quickly identified my daughter's weaknesses and challenged her to learn. My daughter had a great time and we booked another lesson for the next day. That night Jonathan invited us to watch him play at a club in SOHO. It was amazing and inspiring. We will continue lessons with Jonathan whenever we are in NY or even on Skype. I highly recommend!
-Josh S. (Newport Beach, CA)
"I have been taking lessons from Jonathan for 6 months and it has been a tremendously enjoyable experience. Jonathan has an excellent methodology to teaching music which is a mixture of technical exercises and application of the theory to learning how to make music. The dual approach allows me to not only understand and appreciate the theoretical and technical aspects of learning the instrument, but also gives me the sense of fun and satisfaction that comes with applying what I learn and seeing the output in a piece of music. Jonathan is extremely knowledgeable about the technical aspects of the instrument and can break this knowledge down for easy elucidation. Overall it has been great learning experience."
-Killian D. (New York, NY)