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School of Music

Cougar Query: "When I tell people I work for BYU, they say, 'Jazz at BYU?' Absolutely!"

Photo by BYU Photo

Name: Ray Smith

BYU employee since: 1982

My job at BYU is… professor of music: I teach saxophone and other woodwind instruments. I direct BYU’s premier jazz big band, Synthesis. I play with BYU’s faculty jazz quintet, Q’d Up, and do a myriad of other things.

I’m currently working on… finishing my 40th and last year at BYU. The biggest project that is still left is taking Synthesis to the Rudin Jazz Championship at the Lincoln Center in New York City. (This is a special invitation from Wynton Marsalis himself!) Only 10 bands from the entire country were invited to come to Lincoln Center and play it off. For our program, this is at least as big as a major bowl game for the football team or the Final 4 for the basketball team. This is a very exciting capstone to 40 years with Synthesis.

I’m currently reading… books on recording, mixing and mastering music, as well as books on photography post-processing and graphic design.

I get most excited about my work when… I see my students really growing and becoming professional in their playing.

Read the full Cougar Query at