B.Mus., B.Ed., M.Mus., DMA

Instructor, Jazz Studies
School of Performing Arts

604.986.1911 ext. 2302
Fir Building, room FR510


DMA, Jazz Studies, University of Southern California, 2007.

M.Mus., Jazz Studies, Univeristy of Southern California, 2002.

B.Ed., Secondary School Education, University of British Columbia, 1996.

B.Mus., Jazz Studies, Capilano University, 1995.

"I place a strong emphasis on educating students to teach themselves through practical, hands-on methods."


Laura Harrison (DMA, University of Southern California, 2007) is a jazz educator, composer, arranger and vocalist who has been pursuing a dual career in jazz and classical music since 1996. She has made quite a reputation for herself as a classical mezzo-soprano performing in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas of Southern California for the past 20 years. In August of 2010, she debuted her first jazz CD that has been played in forty-three states and thirteen countries, and climbed to #18 on the CMJ Jazz National Chart.

After receiving degrees at Capilano University and the University of British Columbia, Harrison was a high school teacher in Maple Ridge, BC until she was recruited to pursue her graduate studies in Los Angeles, California. She received her Master of Music and Doctorate of Musical Arts degrees in Jazz Studies at the University of Southern California under the mentorship of Dr. Thom Mason and Carmen Bradford. As a former student of Capilano University, Harrison had the distinct pleasure to sing in the flagship ensemble, NiteCap, and is thrilled to be back teaching at her alma mater.

One of Harrison's passions is building musicianship skills. She observed students struggling to understand music theory. As a result, she developed a curriculum that the students found to be accessible and motivating; many become theory enthusiasts. Her students loved her teaching style and encouraged her to write a theory book that incorporated Harrison's sense of humour since this is what made them absorb the information quickly and thoroughly.

In 2015, Harrison published Enjoying Music Theory (ISBN-13: 978-0986415401), which has been used as a textbook at Mount San Antonio College and Irvine High School in Southern California. It delivers theoretical concepts in a concise, clear manner and is intended for the absolute beginner.

I have a unique, broad-spectrum vocal career equally represented in both the Jazz and Classical arenas and have been a dedicated educator working with a wide array of students in high school, college and university settings for over 20 years.

As much as I love the performance aspect of music, I realize that I am an educator first and I feel that a student's understanding and application of information takes precedence over performance. At the University of British Columbia we were taught the importance of teaching the students first and the material second. I have carried this philosophy with me through all my teaching experiences and am excited about the possibility of assisting other musicians find balance between process versus product.

I plan on writing and developing a second volume of my Music Theory project which will address more advanced traditional and jazz theoretical concepts. I would also like to build upon and publish my doctoral disseration which uses transcriptions of the great soloists in Jazz as vehicles for vocalists to learn and understand the language of improvisation. My dissertation scratched the surface of a method of learning vocal improvisation which I have been using for 20 years. A published version would allow me to offer it to other programs so they can tackle the challenge of vocal improvisation. My list of interests and research covers many areas and is always changing.

Feel free to go to my website to learn more about my current projects.