Sam is a passionate and experienced educator who teaches with the same principles of integrity, creativity and discovery that he brings to his music. Sam has been a bandleader for Jazz at Lincoln Center's highly acclaimed Jazz For Young People program since 2013, and has led hundreds of concert workshops in public schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Washington D.C., Memphis, Nashville, Chicago, Lafayette, Atlanta and New Orleans. Through his work with the U.S. Department of State, Sam has led concerts and workshops about American folk music in China, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Turkey and Azerbaijan. Sam is a regular faculty member at the Stanford Jazz Workshop where he teaches his Future Folk Musik course each summer to hundreds of students.

Interested in bringing an educational program to a school or university?

Sample Programs


Roots of Freedom is a 60-minute educational concert that explores leadership, democracy, and protest, through the lens of improvisation and American roots music. Through captivating performance and interactive activities, Sam and the Human Hands demonstrate how the structure of a band can be a model for a functioning, democratic society, how the blues provides a platform for self-expression, and how improvisation and active listening allow a collective to support a plurality of diverse voices. By mixing historical protest songs with contemporary themes, students are encouraged to consider how music can drive social change in their own communities.


Future Folk Musik is a 90-minute interactive workshop for jazz and band instrumentalists that puts jazz in conversation with the various styles of American folk music that have surrounded it since its inception. From the roots of blues and gospel, to bluegrass and country music, from Latin American and Caribbean folk music to rock and roll, Future Folk Musik explores what it means to be an American musician. Drawing on his experiences working with bluegrass and Americana musicians, Sam encourages students to open their ears to new sounds, songs, and strategies for group improvisation and practice. Students will listen to archival recordings of early roots music, compare the works of Louis Armstrong, Bill Monroe, Ornette Coleman, Nina Simone, Ray Charles and Charlie Haden, and learn to sing and play an old-time fiddle tune.

Sam and the Human Hands are also available to lead advanced workshops on jazz and bluegrass improvisation techniques for instrumentalists and clinics for bands.

Music Resources for Students: