Photo courtesy of Chelsey Green.
Photo courtesy of Chelsey Green.

Each genre of music has its own stereotype.

Great jazz musicians are often depicted playing the saxophone in a small café or as members of a full brass section featuring polished instruments.

Classical musicians are generalized as wistfully playing their string instruments in large concert halls.

But Chelsey Green, a doctoral candidate in viola performance and pedagogy at UMD’s School of Music, is breaking these stereotypes one performance at a time.

The artist describes her style as jazz-funk, a genre of music prevalent since the early 1970s.

Her family ignited her love of music. Green’s father, a traveling musician, helped her develop a passion for performance early on in life, while her mother had her enrolled in lessons at the age of four with a professional violinist from the Houston Ballet Orchestra.

Green hopes that her doctoral degree will prepare her to teach at the university level.

“College students that are majoring in an instrument are somewhat more focused toward how they want to cultivate their artistry around that instrument, so I think that’s something that would be a challenge [as a university level teacher] but also inspiring,” Green said.

She chose to attend this university in order to receive her doctorate after attending a summer orchestral festival at The Clarice two years in a row. It was at this festival where she met Jim Ross, an associate professor in UMD’s School of Music, who convinced Green to apply for the doctorate program.

“I think [teaching] is something that comes naturally with being an artist,” Green said. “You can learn so much when you teach others and I think that’s one of the most beautiful things I get from it.”

When she is not focusing on her doctoral requirements, Green performs with her band, The Green Project, and teaches music at local schools.

“[The schools] transform the cafeteria into an auditorium and all the kids come in and we go through kind of the basic principles of song structure, what improvisation is, where it came from, and a general history of classical music,” Green said. “One of the most fun things we get to do with the kids is create songs.”

Although Green explained her goal is to ultimately teach at the university level, she enjoys the work The Green Project does with students of all ages.

“Chelsey is a very goal oriented person,” bass guitarist of The Green Project, Kevin Powe Jr., said. “I appreciate when an artist is looking to do something new within their art.”

The Green Project was founded approximately two years ago after Green was stood up by a date.

She ended up at an open mic night at a restaurant in Baltimore alone with her viola case.  After being asked to “bring her saxophone up” to play, she took out her viola instead. The puzzled crowd quickly became amazed by her talent to improvise with the music the disc jockey was playing.

After that evening, the owner of the bar introduced her to several musicians and The Green Project was founded.

Green remains focused on her passion for music and teaching while earning her doctorate. One of her aspirations is to teach instrumentalists, yet she enjoys being a performer on stage and recording music.

“I know she’s able to do it all,” Hope Kent, a friend of Green’s said. “I see potential in whichever path she’ll take. She has a command of her future and audience.”

Green will be performing at the Busboys and Poets in Hyattsville Sunday, March 29 at 7 p.m. To discover more of Green’s music, visit

writersblocheadshots09Victoria Tanner is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at

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