Dennis Shafer grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, where he attended the Raintree Montessori School and then public schools in one of the finest systems in the country. With early musical training in piano, Dennis excelled in the making of music with his peers. Debuting on clarinet in the fifth grade band, the sense of competition and team-building has become an integral part of his pedagogy as a music educator today. The presence of the University of Kansas made it possible for him to pursue saxophone lessons there with Professor Vince Gnojek at the age of 13 and take college-level courses in French, Math, and Music while in High School.
While completing his Bachelor in Music as a student with Kenneth Radnofsky at the Boston Conservatory, Dennis explored performance with dancers, with actors in musicals, and brought his music to the elderly in outreach projects. He co-founded many professional music groups, including The Skyline Quintet and the Back Bay Saxophone Quartet. He has appeared in the Boston Conservatory’s mainstage performance of Communique du Tango as Music Director, composer, arranger, and performer, as well as venues such as Odyssey Cruises, Virgin Record Store, Jordan Hall, and the Lilypad of Cambridge.
In 2004, Dennis moved to Paris, France, to pursue studies with contemporary saxophonist Jean-Michel Goury. In Paris, Dennis worked with several great composers and saxophonists, including François Rosse, Etienne Rolin, Yosh’ko Seffer, François Coutinaud, and Rico Gubler. He also premiered works by Robert Lemay, Jacques Hetu, Yosh’ko Seffer, and toured with various ensembles across France, Austria and Hungary. He discovered different facets of traditional music and founded many groups, including Tapis Volant and Eastern Lamps and performed at le Perroquet Blue, Theatre de Deux Portes, La Cité Internationale des Arts, La Fondation des Etats-Unis, and La Beliere.
His conservatory’s saxophone ensemble traveled all over France and played for youngsters in the suburbs of Paris, Tours, and for the workers of the Selmer Saxophone Factory in community outreach. Dennis recently co-founded Sounds in Bloom with prize-winning performance poet Norma Szokolyai. In addition to performing in concert internationally, Sounds in Bloom also prepares workshops for children and adults in performance poetry and composition. Appearances in Boston include the Boston Conservatory’s “The Garden” poetry series, Harvard’s Dudley November Art Exhibit, and Longy School of Music’s Edward M Pickman Hall.
Through his Shafer School of Saxophone, Dennis’ students in Paris and Boston play with and for each other in various settings, from Paris Soirees to the Perroquet Bleu theatre in Montmartre, Paris, France. He teaches people of all ages and levels, including providing music entry points to adult beginners and amateurs.
Following his Artist Diploma studies at the Longy School of Music, Dennis plans to return to France to earn a Diplome d’Etat in Superior Pedagogy, which certifies a professor in musical pedagogy at the university level.