Mike LeDonne has had the unique experience of playing with an unusually wide spectrum of jazz masters. His many years as a professional have included playing all over the world with everyone from old masters like Benny Goodman and Roy Eldridge to Be Bop masters like Sonny Rollins, Milt Jackson, Benny Golson and Art Farmer, to modern masters like Bobby Hutcherson and George Coleman. These are just a few of the great’s Mike has apprenticed with. This kind of experience is incomparable to anyone else in his age group or younger and establishes Mike as a direct link to, and a part of the lineage of this music. Because of this incredible musical journey, Mike’s musical aesthetic and his understanding of the history doesn’t come from books but from the bandstand and he brings all of this to the table when he teaches.
Mike started teaching when he was 10 in his father’s music store in their hometown of Bridgeport CT. Upon graduating from New England Conservatory his teacher, Jaki Byard, started using Mike as a substitute teacher in other schools closer to NYC (where Mike moved) such as The Hartt School Of Music in Hartford CT and The New School in NYC. Mike eventually started teaching piano at the New School in the mid 90’s and has been there ever since.
He was asked to join the faculty at Juilliard in 2001 when Juilliard started it’s Jazz Division and stayed there until 2006. Mike has been teaching at the Wells Fargo Jazz For Teens Program at The New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark NJ since it’s inception in 1997.
Mike has taught many clinic’s around the world and is the co author of Jim Snidero’s Jazz Conception books for piano and piano comping.