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UNF music education graduate inspiring next generation of musicians

Tyler Heintzen HeadshotHailing from Orlando, Florida, University of North Florida senior and music education major Tyler Heintzen says music has been a part of his life from the beginning and credits his parents for cultivating his love of music. His mom, Ashley Heintzen, plays the bassoon in the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and his father is a retired audio engineer who plays guitar. 

“I was raised in a very musical family,” said Heintzen. “I started taking piano lessons when I was four years old.” 

Heintzen continued playing the piano until age 11, when he briefly explored playing drums before discovering his father’s old trumpet and finding his favorite musical instrument.  

Inspired by legendary trumpet musicians such as Roy Hargrove, Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis as musical influences, Heintzen honed his skills on the trumpet throughout his adolescent years. 

Tyler Heintzen and his parentsIt was during his junior year in high school that he began to see his hard work pay off when he was selected to the All-State Concert Band and toured the United States as a member of the Spirit of Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps, a world-class marching ensemble.  

By this time, he began to envision a promising professional career for himself playing music. 

“I began to realize that the trumpet was the reason for my being,” said Heintzen. “I decided that music was going to be my career.” 

Seeking to continue his studies, Heintzen auditioned for a college music program but was not selected. Instead, he enrolled in nearby Seminole State College of Florida with the goal of completing his general education requirements while continuing to take music lessons and gain experience playing with local musicians. 

Before concluding his studies at Seminole State, he discovered a recording of UNF’s Jazz Ensemble 1 (JE1) on YouTube. He was immediately impressed.  

“That recording blew my mind,” he said. 

Tyler Heintzen playing a trumpetHe knew UNF was the place for him one night in 2020, when a friend invited him to a jazz jam session at the popular music hangout Austin’s Coffee in Winter Park, Florida. He met several students from the UNF School of Music who were, in his words, “the best players in that jam session.” He continued to attend more jam sessions, getting to know more UNF students and alumni and learning more about the school’s music program. Impressed by what he heard, Heintzen took a chance and enrolled at UNF. 

Upon enrolling in the University, he first contemplated earning a jazz studies degree or a classical performance degree, but decided a degree in music education was best. 

“There are people who taught me how to play music and I think it’s my responsibility to teach the next generation how to do this thing that I love to do,” he said. 

He credits the faculty in the UNF School of Music, including Dr. Randy Tinnin, J.B. Scott and Dr. Tim Groulx, for helping him develop as a musician and educator.  

“Tyler is a gifted trumpet player who is equally at home performing classical music as well as jazz and commercial music,” said Tinnin. “He is a strong player with great technique, but what makes him really stand out is his ability to connect with his audience. He does this with beautiful phrasing that really tells a story.” 

Tyler Heintzen and Dr. Randy TinninHeintzen is enrolled in an accelerated dual degree program and will earn his bachelor’s degree in music education at this year’s fall graduation before beginning graduate studies in spring 2024. During his UNF tenure thus far, he has tallied an impressive list of accomplishments including performing (by juried invitation) with the UNF Trumpet Ensemble at the 2022 International Trumpet Guild Conference in San Antonio, Texas.  He has played in both JE1, as principal trumpet and the Wind Symphony. He has been a featured performer at UNF commencement ceremonies and faculty convocations with the Ceremonial Brass and UNF Brass Quintet. He even performed for a masterclass with the world-renowned American Brass Quintet as a member of the UNF Trumpet Ensemble and UNF Brass Quintet. During the summer of 2023, he traveled to Argentina with other UNF students and faculty to perform with several ensembles and taught music to local grammar school students. 

During the fall semester, Heintzen has been teaching music and concert band to middle schoolers as an intern at Freedom Crossing Academy under the guidance of Laurie Zentz, the school’s band director. He says that he is enjoying every minute of his intern experience and is currently looking for a permanent teaching assignment. In his free time, he enjoys learning to play various instruments such as the clarinet, saxophone and accordion. He is also working on a self-produced jazz fusion album of original music.  

When reflecting on his musical journey thus far, Heintzen says everything has come full circle. “I wanted to be a good trumpet player that gets called to play as well as a good teacher and I’m on my way there.”