Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Gerand McDowell began playing piano at 14 years of age, switching from the drums after hearing his mother play the piano. After hearing Jazz on the radio, he began exploring the world of improvisation. Shortly thereafter, he began playing in a youth all-star orchestra in Atlanta. It was not long before McDowell became a staple on the Atlanta jazz scene, performing at some of the most well known venues such as Churchill Grounds and The Velvet Note. Over the years he gained experience playing with notable musicians such as Russell Gunn, Brian Hogans, and Kevin Jones. In an effort to further his education Gerand attended Michigan State University and continued studying Jazz piano with Xavier Davis and classical piano with Tamar Mikeladze.
While earning his degree, McDowell gained experience teaching students at both the secondary school level and the undergraduate level. As a jazz pedagog, he has conducted masterclasses and taught lessons for several years, having previously worked with Michigan State Community Music Schools to educate Michigan youth on America’s Classical Music.
Years of experience as an educator has instilled within McDowell the value of being flexible as a teacher. McDowell takes both an interactive and methodological approach in understanding both the needs and desires of his students. Each student brings something different to the table. In this regard, McDowell exercises a creative approach towards music education with methods specific to the student. He graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz Performance and continues to teach and perform in New York City.