As a violin student of Ellis Chasens in Arlington, Virginia, Jay earned awards and scholarships from the National Federation of Music Clubs and the Friday Morning Music Club. He appeared as soloist with the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra and served as concertmaster of the Northern Virginia Youth Symphony, (now the American Youth Philharmonic). At that time the orchestra was directed by James Christian Pfohl, the founder of the Brevard Music Center.
Jay graduated from Bob Jones University with a B.A. in Church Music, violin principal, and an M.A. in Violin Performance. While attending BJU he studied violin and viola with Joan Mulfinger (a student of Louis Krasner at the Eastman School of Music). He also studied cello with George Mulfinger (a student of Orlando Cole at the Curtis Institute of Music). George and his wife performed in the Krasner String Quartet. As a student Jay won the annual Commencement String Contest, appeared regularly as a soloist on Vespers, and performed as concertmaster and principal violist with the BJU Symphony.
After graduating from BJU Jay taught pre-college and university students as a member of the string faculty and founded the Bob Jones Junior High Orchestra as well as the Bob Jones Academy Orchestra. Under his direction for 28 years the BJA String Orchestra and Symphony grew from 13 students to over 100 students, consistently earning Superior ratings at the South Carolina Concert Festival and having the highest student acceptance rate into Region and All-State Orchestra of any public or private schools in South Carolina.
Seeing the need for more bass students in the pre-college and University orchestras Jay studied double bass with Peter Rickett, a Juilliard graduate and former conductor of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra. This enabled Jay to encourage young bassists to take up the instrument with great success.
In 1979, he and his wife, Dianne, co-founded the BJU Summer Music Camps, now a flourishing three week summer program that includes elementary, middle school and high school divisions for choir, band, string orchestra, piano, and handbells.
In 1989, they also founded Pinner Publications, a sheet music publishing company that focuses on educational materials such as string flashcards and graded string orchestra compositions, as well as arrangements of string solos, duets, string quartets and orchestra music for church musicians.
Jay served as head of the string department at Bob Jones University and as coordinator of the pre-college string/orchestra program for 25 years. Under his leadership the BJU string department grew 90% in 10 years, He also served as head of the String Repair Shop taking on the responsibility for maintaining the University and pre-college collection of string instruments. He gained valuable experience repairing string instruments for area public schools at Pecknel Music. Pecknel partnered with BJU to send him to the University of New Hampshire to do summer studies with Hans Nebel, one of the most respected string instrument restorers and repair techs in the country.
Jay served as president of the South Carolina Chapter of the American String Teachers Association, as a board member (private studio representative) and as editor for the SCMEA Festival String Orchestra List. His composition Downtown Suite for Strings was premiered by the Bob Jones Elementary School String Orchestra and won the National School Orchestra Association Composition Contest. That composition was chosen for inclusion in the book, Teaching Music Through Performance in Orchestra, as one of “100 of the most significant works for strings and full orchestra…” The South Carolina Chapter of the American String Teachers Association commissioned him to write Fanfare & Allegro for Strings, which was premiered by the South Carolina Junior All-State String Orchestra under the direction of Anne Witt. His compositions and arrangements have appeared in the catalogs of several publishers, including David E. Smith, SoundForth, and Alfred.
Jay appeared as soloist, concertmaster, principal viola, principal double bass and conductor with the BJU Symphony Orchestra, and for five seasons played principal viola with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra. He conducted the BJU Symphony Orchestra in concert performances, opera productions and on tour. He also regularly conducted the BJU High School Festival String Orchestra. He has guest conducted for string sectional rehearsals with the Carolina Youth Symphony, and has conducted and given master classes for Furman University’s Summer Band/Orchestra Camp. In 2015, he was the rehearsal conductor for the Furman University Symphony in preparation for Furman’s presentation of Handel’s oratorio, the Messiah. He has served as a clinician, adjudicator, or conductor for District, Regional, All-State, and Honors Orchestras, and for orchestra festivals in Illinois, Michigan, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Jay studied conducting with Dwight Gustafson, Dean of the School of Fine Arts at BJU. In addition Jay was selected to be a conducting fellow at University of South Carolina Conductor’s Institute where he did additional conducting studies with Donald Portnoy, conductor of the USC Symphony Orchestra, and with Samuel Jones, founder and first Dean of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.
Jay is listed in Who’s Who in American Music. In 2011, he was named Studio Teacher of the Year, by the South Carolina Chapter of the American String Teachers Association. His precollege string students have earned section, assistant principal and principal positions as violinists, violists, cellists and bassists in summer music camps and in South Carolina District, Region, All-State, and Honors Orchestras. His university students have earned positions in community, regional and professional orchestras throughout the United States, and several of his students have continued their studies abroad. Many are successful performers and teachers.
As a string educator Jay has published articles in the Instrumentalist Magazine and a quarterly music publisher’s newsletter titled Lines and Spaces for which he served as editor. (Several of those articles appear in the Resource section of this website.)
With over 40 years of teaching experience Jay enjoys communicating the joy of music to his students with a unique blend of humor, respect, high expectations, patience, and down-to-earth practical help that encourages each student to reach his or her potential. Lessons weave together music history, music appreciation, and theory along with technique and musicality taught with Suzuki materials, the Flesch Scale System, standard etudes, and repertoire. He also incorporates “best practices” from performers and teachers he has been privileged to observe in person, including master classes, lessons, and rehearsals presented by Erick Friedman, David Becker, Lawrence Wolfe, Gloria Jones, Jacquelyn Dillon-Krass, Bob Gillespie, Pamela Hayes, Joel Krosnick, Dorothy DeLay, and David Kim.