Paula Zeitlin

Senior Music Performance Faculty Emerita in Jazz Violin and Viola


Jazz violinist and bandleader, jazz violin and viola improvisation instructor, BlueJazz Combo Program Director and Coach

My goal in teaching improvisation is to help students use what they already know (instrumental technique, playing experience), and develop skills that will help them become confident jazz improvisers and performers. This includes learning jazz theory and harmony on the instrument, learning different jazz styles and repertoire, developing string-specific jazz bowing and left hand techniques, and exploring advanced improvisation concepts.

As director and coach of the BlueJazz Combos, my focus is on developing ensemble playing and performance, arranging, and improvisation. Students bring their musical backgrounds and interests (classical, big band, rock, fiddle, pop, salsa, funk, fusion, etc) to suggest, compose and arrange music for the combos.

I received a Professional Diploma in Jazz Violin Performance from Berklee College of Music, and afterwards I continued to study jazz improvisation with Matt Glaser, Charlie Banacos, and Hal Crook. Over many years I played and recorded with various jazz, bluegrass, and folk groups, and was a founding member of the Underground Jazz String Quartet and the Western Swing band Western Omelet. I have taught Jazz and Popular Music Theory at Wellesley, and History of Jazz Strings in different educational settings. I continue to freelance on violin and perform with my own group, the Paula Zeitlin Quintet (PZQ), and with the band Sympatico.

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  • B.A., Earlham College
  • M.A., University of Chicago
  • Professional Diploma, Jazz Violin Performance, Berklee College of Music