Saxophonist, Multi-Instrumentalist and Music Educator, Sam Pilnick received his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and Jazz Studies at the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, NY, studying under the tutelage of Christopher Creviston, Robert Young, Bret Zvacek, and Marsha Baxter, as well as other professors and talented musicians. After receiving his degree in May of 2014, Sam continued his studies as a Jazz Studies Major and Graduate Assistant at Western Michigan University (WMU). At WMU, Sam was the Graduate Student for acclaimed saxophonist Andrew Rathbun and has continued his studies with celebrated musicians and professors Jeremy Siskind, Scott Cowan, Keith Hall and Edward Simon. Other notable teachers include Rich Perry, Ron Aprea and Billy Drewes.
At the Crane School of Music, Sam could be seen performing with many different ensembles including the Crane Jazz Ensemble, Crane Latin Ensemble, Crane Concert Band and Crane New Music Ensemble, as well as various small university & community jazz groups. Sam also had the opportunity at Crane to play in master classes for members of the critically acclaimed jazz group, SFJazz Collective, revered drummer Terry Lyne Carrington and the renowned Timothy McAllister and Liz Ames Classical Saxophone/Piano Duo. Sam also taught private lessons to elementary and middle school students in the surrounding North Country area. As a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Sam served as the Fraternity Education Officer and Historian, receiving the Phi Mu Alpha Junior and Senior Honor Awards in 2013 and 2014, respectfully. He graduated Summa Cum Laude in May, 2014.
At Western Michigan University, Sam’s graduate studies were focused on Jazz Improvisation, Composition, and History. He was a member of the Western Jazz Orchestra and Western Advanced Jazz Ensemble. Sam was an active composer for the Advanced Jazz Ensemble, writing and arranging music for their 2016 Environment Project, in addition to arranging music for their 2015 concert with Randy Brecker. At Western Michigan University, Sam also shared the stage with Edward Simon, Miguel Zenon, Lucas Pino, Terell Stafford, Debrah Brown and WMU's Gold Company.
In the 2015/2016 school year Sam produced and co-wrote a collaborative modern dance production called "I cut the things with a large knife." as part of the Robert H. and Faye Luscombe Collaborative Arts Fund. This project featured members of WMU's Jazz and Dance Departments. For more information on the collaboration, please visit Icutthethingsluscombe.com
As a Music Educator, Sam is a New York and Illinois State K – 12 Certified music teacher, having done his student teaching in Bayside and Astoria, Queens in the fall of 2013. At WMU, Sam taught classes in Saxophone pedagogy, private Saxophone lessons, Instrumental Methods and Basic Music Theory. In March 2015, Sam was a featured presenter at the WMU Entrepreneurial Arts Workshop. Currently Sam has been the Band Director at Chicago Math and Science Academy in Rogers Park where he teaches middle and high school band since 2017
As a performer and composer, Sam explores a variety of styles including jazz, contemporary, electronic, and creative music for a variety of ensembles and solo works. He leads The Sam Pilnick Project, a jazz collective that performs original works in the Chicago and Kalamazoo Region and have released two EP’s Pure Imagination and East Coast Transplant. He also leads and composes for his new ensemble Sam Pilnick’s Nonet Project, which is heavily influenced by Sam’s love of big band music, small group improvisations and the want to explore different timbral experiences, while utilizing traditional jazz instruments.
Sam’s horns range from Selmer to Yamaha.