Alto saxophonist/Composer Sam Spear is a budding musician majoring in Performance and Jazz Composition at Berklee College of Music. Spear has studied under world-class professors including Shannon LeClaire, Ayn Inserto, Bob Pilkington, and Tia Fuller. She is actively engaged in the Berklee community as a session player, composer, and student. Spear has performed as a featured soloist in the Women’s Musician Network Concert and appeared with guest artists Andy Milne and Samuel Torres. During her second year at Berklee, Spear’s original compositions “Keep Steppin’” and “Vulnerable Beauty” was showcased in the Best of Jazz Composition Concerts Fall 2016 and Spring 2017, respectively. Spear is the recipient of the 2017 Jazz Composition Achievement Award. Spear is a founding member and co-president of the Women in Jazz Collective, a Berklee club with the purpose of empowering female jazz performers, composers, and businesspeople. Spear volunteers as a private saxophone instructor through the Berklee City Music Mentoring Program.
Sam Spear was born June 28, 1997 in Cleveland, Ohio. Shortly after her younger brother was born, her family moved to the suburbs. In 5th grade, Spear was immediately drawn to the saxophone and practiced it enthusiastically. At age 11, after hearing the brilliant arrangement of “Take the A Train” from Ellington Uptown, Spear instantly knew that jazz would be her life’s work.
At age 13, Spear became a student at The Music Settlement in Cleveland, Ohio. She participated in the Jazz at the Music Settlement (J@MS) program where she was mentored by incredible musicians and educators including Ken LeeGrand, Bobby Jackson, and Eric Gould. Spear gradually worked her way into the top jazz combo and the lead alto chair of the top big band. Through the Music Settlement’s partnership with Berklee City Music, Spear was awarded full-tuition scholarships to attend Berklee College of Music’s Five Week Summer Performance Program for summer 2013 and 2014.
In addition to her jazz studies, Spear also spent time playing classical saxophone repertoire. She was a first part alto saxophonist in Cleveland Youth Wind Symphony 2011-2012 and scored a 1 on her class A solo in the 2012 Ohio Music Educators Association Solo and Ensemble Contest. In 2014, Spear organized a recital at the Bop Stop in Cleveland, Ohio in which she performed Concerto in Eb for Alto Saxophone Op. 109 (A. Glazunov), Sonata Op. 19 (P. Creston), and Scaramouche (D. Milhaud), followed by a jazz set.
After freshman year of high school, Spear enrolled in Cleveland State University’s Post-Secondary Enrollment Options Program. Her work at Cleveland State contributed to her high school graduation and college transcript. In addition to more traditional academic courses, Spear studied tonal harmony, ear training, improvisation, and music technology. She was the lead alto saxophonist of the Cleveland State University Jazz Band and the sole horn player of the top jazz combo.
Spear had her eyes set on Berklee since she was 13 years old. After watching her Cleveland peers being accepted to the school in years past and attending the Five Week program twice, her desire to study at Berklee only increased. Spear was awarded the prestigious Presidential Scholarship which gave her the means to pursue her dreams.
Spear’s future ambitions include leading her own big band that plays her arrangements and compositions, furthering her education to the doctoral level, being a professor at an acclaimed collegiate music institution, and mentoring underserved youth.
When she is not engaged in her studies, Spear enjoys spending time with family, going for hikes, and practicing yoga.