Mesa Community College will honor longtime Arizona State University jazz instructor Dom Moio in a concert on April 26 at the Performing Arts Center, with all proceeds benefiting the MCC music studies program.
Dom Moio reflected on not only his career as an ASU and MCC instructor, but also looked back to where his passion for music first began.
Moio grew up in Maine and was drawn to the world of music thanks to the album “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis. Moio was already playing drums as a young man and continued to buy various jazz records.
At 17, Moio was introduced to his mentor Don Doane, who played alongside many jazz musicians such as Duke Ellington and Woody Herman. Moio would continue to play for Doane until he left the east coast in 1978.
Moio had already taught jazz courses in Maine and Nevada when he arrived in Phoenix in 1988. It was then that he met former ASU jazz instructor Chuck Marohnic, who had heard Moio play and gave him his first opportunity to teach a small drum class at ASU.
Moio had also met with former MCC band educator Grant Wolf, who built the jazz program at the college and led the jazz ensemble at many festivals.
Moio has taught at MCC for 20 years and was teaching there three days a week and two days at ASU.
“I just tell the students, you must love this music. Love the music first and everything else will just be a little annoyance in the way but get to the music. If you love the music first, you’ll do whatever you have to do to get to it,” said Moio
Students of Moio have gone on to perform in bands of their own and perform locally across the valley. Even current MCC music department director Rob Hunter was once a student of Moio and has played in bands with him before.
Former student Robert Carrillo studied with Moio throughout his undergraduate studies at MCC from 2007 to 2011, as well as during his master’s degree at ASU from 2020 to 2022.
Alongside taking private drum set lessons with Moio, Carillo was a member of the latin jazz band at ASU. While going back for his Master’s degree, Carillo had the opportunity to participate once more in the jazz band while also serving as assistant director.
Moio’s musical experience helped make him an excellent educator, and he’s worked to pass that knowledge onto his students. The teaching methods Moio uses have been developed over time and are aimed to help students evolve their skills
Aside from Moio’s extensive knowledge of music that has allowed him to guide his student’s into becoming the best musicians they can be, he’s shared his zeal for music.
“Dom has an infectious joy and enthusiasm that is clear whenever he is in a room or musical situation,” said Carrillo. “This joy of music spreads to people of all walks of life and exposes them to new cultural ideas creating cultural diversity throughout our community.”
Moio has been an educator, but also a friend to his students.
Moio’s dedication to music and teaching have helped a number of his students go on to have successful careers in the music industry.
“He changed the whole trajectory of my musical career with not only his drum set teaching, but his guidance on the music business and life in general,” said Carrillo.
Carrillo is currently the drum set instructor at MCC, as well as a freelance musician and private lesson instructor.
After years of teaching and connecting with students, Moio has decided that this was the year he looked into a future career and life beyond instructing at the university.
“I feel like it’s time for a change, you know, I’m going to still be gigging, everybody says, what are you going to do with your talents, and I say, the only thing I’m not going to do is teach at ASU. I’m going to still play the same gigs and teach private students like I always have away from the school,” said Moio
Moio describes his new life as just being more free. He explained how campuses like ASU are just getting bigger and bigger and becoming less of a camaraderie.
As someone who has taught for 30 years, Moio has noticed a shift of focus from the students’ needs to the institution’s needs.
Moio now looks to give a grand performance alongside his friends and colleagues and perform with eight different bands that he plays in.
The concert closure will be Boneyard, a band Moio and his wife Carole Pellatt play in together. Pellatt herself is a guitarist who has played many different styles throughout her years of work.
When speaking about what it’s like to play alongside some of his closest friends, Moio stated, “It’s really an actual chance to all see each other on the same stage which never happens. If you’re a piano player you don’t see other piano players at gigs. There are about 5 or 6 piano players that are friends that are all going to see each other that night. We’re all going to get to play. It’s going to be an amazing night of friendship, love, and music”