Manuel Carlos De La Rosa, Jr. was born on May 30, 1987 in Indianapolis, Indiana. His parents immigrated to the United States from the Philippines. At age 5, he started studying classical piano with Janet Adamson, but his parents claim that he first began noodling melodies on the family piano at a much earlier age. Throughout high school, De La Rosa played piano and electric bass in the Roncalli High School jazz, pep, and concert bands, and accompanied the show choir. He earned two Prelude Awards (2002 and 2003) in Collaboration for original jazz compositions. During his senior year, he was the first pianist from Roncalli to earn a chair in the All-State Jazz Ensemble directed by Brent Wallarab. Additionally, he was named Outstanding Musician and a recipient of the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award. At the 2005 Dimensions in Jazz Festival at Ball State, he won the Outstanding Soloist Award plus a scholarship to a two-week summer jazz workshop at the Birch Creek Music Center in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin.
De La Rosa then chose to stay in the Indianapolis area and attend IUPUI, where he had the privilege to study jazz piano privately on campus under Gary Walters. He has also studied jazz with local artist Steve Allee (Rufus Reid) and University of North Texas professor Stefan Karlsson (Jimmy Cobb Trio, Eddie Gomez) and classical with Chayoung Yon-Short. At IUPUI, he is the pianist in the award-winning Jazz Ensemble 1 and Graduate Jazz Combo under the direction of Dr. John Vander Gheynst. This year, he had the privilege of sharing the stage with Grammy-winning saxophonist Bob Mintzer (Yellowjackets, Bob Mintzer Big Band) during his performance and masterclass at IUPUI.
An intellectual yet soulful keyboardist, De La Rosa has performed with local jazz artists Jared Thompson, John Harden, The Impossible Jazz Collaboration, Brent Wallarab, Mark Buselli, Brandon Meeks, Bill Lancton, and Rob Dixon. He has also recorded and performed with rock band Finer (alongside Bongo Boy percussion instructor Robby Coleman on drums) and Chicago-based singer-songwriter Manny Garcia. When not teaching at Bongo Boy, he has been coaching the jazz combo at Roncalli High School since 2006. In his free time, he enjoys salsa dancing, sports, traveling, and eating exotic cuisines.
TEACHING ABILITIES INCLUDE:
Anyone from the Beatles to Beethoven, Jay-Z to John Coltrane, Motown to Mozart, and everyone in between.
GOALS FOR STUDENTS:
To develop technical and aural skills, as well as knowledge of music theory and notation relevant to today's musician.
To apply the non-musical aspects of learning the art and craft of music to all areas of life-- especially self-discipline, creativity, lifelong learning, and cultural awareness.