Faculty & Staff

Steven Gooden

Department Chair: Woodwind; Ensemble Director: Symphonic Band, Beginning & Advanced Band; Faculty: Clarinet


Northwestern University, MM, Clarinet Performance and Literature
Georgia State University, BA, Music Education


Steven Gooden’s attraction to the clarinet was, self-admittedly, driven by non-musical ambitions. He says he selected the clarinet with “zero knowledge of what one looked or sounded like, but with the hopes of sitting next to a particular cute girl who played clarinet.” While this love interest may or may not have blossomed, Mr. Gooden’s career as a clarinetist and music instructor certainly did.

Mr. Gooden teaches clarinet in Merit’s Instrumental Music program and Bridges in-school program, along with private lessons. He enjoys the family-like atmosphere of Merit in working with the staff, faculty, students and their parents. He also is the band director at Proviso Math and Science Academy in Forest Park and Hefferan Elementary School in Chicago.

An accomplished performer in his own right, Mr. Gooden is the principal clarinetist for the North Shore Concert Band. He has performed with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and Lakeshore Symphony Orchestra. He is an avid chamber performer in Chicago and around the country. Mr. Gooden has been recognized with honors in a number of competitions, and performed on the album American Manuscripts with the Georgia State University Wind Ensemble.

A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Gooden earned a Bachelor of Arts in music education at Georgia State University. He earned a Master of Music in clarinet performance and literature at Northwestern University, where he studied with Steven Cohen.

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