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Meet Kira Goidel

“[Purchase] was great for a person like me, because I was able to explore many of my interests.  Purchase made the tools available and I just had to take advantage of them.”

Kira Goidel, Class of ’18 (BM)

Kira Goidel is a 24 year old Jazz Vocalist living in Washington Heights, NY. She received her undergraduate degree (BM in Jazz Voice) at the Purchase College Conservatory of Music where she was awarded the prestigious Ella Fitzgerald Scholarship.  There, she studied voice with Alexis Cole and continued to play her first instrument, the trombone, studying with professors Tim Albright and John Mosca. She also studied arranging with David DeJesus, Transcription with Jon Faddis and piano with Andy LaVerne. Before studying at Purchase, Kira attended SUNY Fredonia as a Musical Theater Major where she studied classical voice with Dr. Robert Strauss.

Kira currently works as the Office Manager at the Birdland Jazz Club on 44th Street in midtown Manhattan. In addition to working at Birdland, Kira has performed at multiple venues in New York including The Blue Note, Cornelia Street Café, and the Purchase Performing Arts Center among others. She leads a group of her own called the Ktet that has performed at the Birdland Jazz Club.  The Ktet plays fresh jazz arrangements of Broadway Classics from composers like Sondheim and Charlie Smalls in addition to arrangements of standards and bebop tunes. They are currently working on an album that is due out in early 2020.

On the occasion of Purchase Jazz’s 25th Anniversary, Kira writes:

I really enjoyed my time at Purchase. It was great for a person like me, because I was able to explore many of my interests.  Purchase made the tools available and I just had to take advantage of them, as I feel many students have done. 

As a jazz major, you need to focus on the music, of course.  You need to develop your technique, learn theory and harmony, create new twists on old tunes, learn to play in an ensemble, etc. Since you can take more than one private lesson, I was able to do that with multiple teachers. For my first two years, I was able to study voice (my primary instrument) with Alexis Cole and trombone with Tim Albright and then John Mosca. My third year I decided to study piano with Andy LaVerne in addition to my voice lessons because I realized that as a vocalist it’s very important to be able to accompany yourself. I was surprised at how easy it was to make the switch.

Alexis Cole, who is also an accomplished pianist, allowed me to bring in music from my piano lessons and gave me advice on singing and playing. She also encouraged me to bring in different guitarists and pianists so I could work on singing in duo settings. I even played a bit of trombone in my voice lessons for feedback. These opportunities helped to prepare me for gigs that I’ve had since graduating. I always appreciated Alexis’ willingness to work on all aspects of my musicality in addition to giving me great assignments that focused on jazz voice. All of my private teachers at Purchase were great that way. I did things like sing in my trombone lessons and bring big band arrangements to piano lessons.

There were also professors that didn’t teach privately but still made time for their students. David Dejesus (Director of the Purchase Latin Jazz Orchestra and Arranging professor) is a perfect example. I was able to work on all of my Arrangements in his classes and could schedule office hours for further questions. Because of this, I was able to develop my repertoire and had a sold book of tunes when I graduated. He was realistic with us about life after graduating. I was happy to have professors so flexible to cater to my musical interests in addition to preparing me for post grad life.

In addition to working on the music, I was also interested in what goes on behind the scenes. How do you plan a music related event? How do you coordinate with an artist? How do you get the word out about an event? Purchase has a great student extracurricular community with organizations like the Purchase Student Government Association (PSGA) and Council of Clubs and Organizations (COCOS). Because of organizations like these, and direction from our terrific Faculty Advisor, David DeJesus (Director of the Purchase Latin Jazz Orchestra), I was able to bring back a club called Jazz Club. Our goal was to bring jazz outside of the conservatory and into the student community. We were able to put on cool events like Swing/Latin Dance Nights and campus wide jam sessions where anyone could come play. We were able to get money to bring Saxophonist Marcus Strickland to Purchase for a master class. We even coordinated a Purchase Jazz festival featuring multiple acts from the conservatory and worked with other clubs like SRA and cheese club! Running this club was a great experience for me and definitely helped to prepare me for the outside world and especially for my current job as Office Manager at Birdland Jazz Club. 

Since graduating last May, I have been working at Birdland Jazz Club where all of the skills I learned at Purchase have been put to the test. On a daily basis, I coordinate with multiple artists sending them agreements for their shows, putting them on the Birdland website, helping with promotion by providing ticket links and sharing helpful tips that I picked up from other Artists. I have even been lucky enough to have 2 shows of my very own at Birdland with my band the Ktet. The group consists of current Purchase students and alums! Of course I called Alexis Cole beforehand for advice. Working at Birdland has been an enriching experience, providing amazing opportunities and fulfilling my love for all different sides of the music industry.  I wouldn’t be working there if I wasn’t able to explore those sides with the tools Purchase had provided.

Many jazz majors can probably agree, it can be hard to step out of the music building. All of your friends practically live there, you have 24 hour access to practice rooms and you have access to updated music notation software. Why would you want to leave right? But I have to say, I’m glad I explored all of what Purchase had to offer.  Taking advantage of my resources while I was in school went a long way now that I’m out of school.  I actually transferred to Purchase from another college, and it was the best decision I could have made.