Saunders enjoys an exciting career as a sought-after bassist and educator. While earning degrees from Pennsylvania State University and University of Maryland, he studied under professional bassists from the highest professional orchestras. In Fall of 2017, Saunders joined the CSO/CCM diversity fellowship and studied under CSO Principal Bassist and CCM Professor, Owen Lee.
Saunders is taking his training from CCM and using that knowledge to advocate for and educate future musicians as the new Assistant Dean for Artistic and Social Change at the Longy School of Music of Bard College.
“The social change aspect is really great, because that involves me looking over these programs that are deeply tied to the Longy community,” he says, adding that he thinks it's important to train musicians to be able to do more than take an orchestra audition. “There is this big aspect in Longy about ‘what does it mean to necessarily be a citizen musician? What does that entail?’”
There are many programs focused on social change at Longy that work on creating well-rounded musicians, including the Music as a Healing Heart initiative. The program introduces students to the therapeutic uses of music and the career opportunities that this field can offer. Longy also partners with many organizations that help train young Black entrepreneurs who are in the arts.
The other aspect of Saunders' role at Longy is artistic direction, where he oversees a lot of the programming at the college.
“A big goal in artistic [planning] right now, is that we are trying to increase the amount of repertoire that is being played by people of color, LGBTQ, women and living composers. My job in artistic [planning] is making sure those people have a voice too.”
Even in his role in administration, Saunders still continues to play his instrument. “I will still get a chance to play quite a bit, which is exciting. I don’t have to put one down in order to take up the other. Playing is still a huge part of what I do.”