This is well worth a look, Musicthoughts.com click here. Plenty of good advice and wisdom.
Yes, its about to start, another “silly season”, the Jazz Summer School season. Actually, many of us feel that this is a special and immensely valuable time for aspiring musicians to immerse themselves and experience the music in a concentrated fashion. It is my understanding that great British composers of the mid-twentieth century such as Vaughan-Williams and Finzi considered the summer school to be the most important learning experience of all.
Nowadays, jazz schools are businesses, but they also offer a transformative (and frequently healing) experience. The Barry Summer School changed my own life, making me determined to pursue a career having on the first night heard Tony Oxley, Alan Skidmore, Gordon Beck and Ron Matthewson. I was later privileged to co-diorect the course.
There are many such events, just click here for details (Jazz Services Education Database)
Or check out these summer-schools with which I have a close association (in alphabetical order):
Mediterranean Jazz Summer School (small course in the south of France with top UK jazz musicians Liane Carroll, Julian Siegel, Martin Hathaway, Geoff Gascoyne, Simon Purcell et al) – click here
JAZZ’S COOL 2011 (a big event in Rome with International figures such as Dave Liebman, John Pattatucci, Daniello Perez, Sheila Jordan and a host of top European musicians and educators including me!) – click here
Trinity Jazz Summer School (the wonderful setting in Greenwich hosts the descendent of the historic Barry Summer School, featuring many of the top UK artists Bobby Wellins, Dave Hassell, Liam Noble, Pete Churchill, Dave Wickins, Nikki Iles et al) – click here
Footballer X has refused a £50,000-a-week salary plus a bonus payment of £500,000.
Footballer Y is reputed to earn £250,000 a week.
The teaching budget for all Arts and Humanities subjects within the University Sector is cut by 100%.
I wonder who practices more, footballers or violinists, goalkeepers or pianists. No contest if England’s recent form is anything to go by!
10 per cent of the UK workforce earned less than £276 a week while in full-time employment (see http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=285).
A poet of the music, Paul Desmond was both self-deprecating and deeply insightful. This medley of quotes might tickle and provoke us…
“I tried practicing for a few weeks and ended up playing too fast… I have won several prizes as the world’s slowest alto player, as well as a special award in 1961 for quietness”.
Regarding his tone:“I honestly don’t know! It has something to do with the fact that I play illegally.”
On why he changed his name: “Breitenfeld sounded too Irish.”
More seriously, Paul Desmond challenges students and teachers of the music: “Complexity can be a trap. You can have a ball developing a phrase, inverting it, playing it in different keys and times and all. But it’s really more introspective than communicative. Like a crossword puzzle compared to a poem.”
And most telling… “Writing is like jazz. It can be learned, but it can’t be taught.”
Sadly his perception about the jazz audience appears to remain pretty much spot on…”Our basic audience begins with creaking elderly types of twenty-three and above.”
For more Paul Desmond, click here:
For a transcription of Paul Desmond’s solo on “Samba with some Bar-B-Q” click here…
Musicians and students are prone to a bit ranting as to how improvisation occurs and whether or not the analogy with language acquisition is appropriate. In supervising students’ (and their own) personal practice, teachers of improvisation can encounter blocks to progression and development, spending a lot of time untangling a student’s perception of their learning experience.
While Improvising is fun, once studied or practiced, it is my experience that inexperienced students and some seasoned musicians can mistake the sensations associated with play or the “flow state” with the slower and “creaky” mind that learns the initial stages of concrete skills. You might say confusing the self-expressive state is confused with the learning state.
“Watching a musician in the throes of an improvisational solo can be like witnessing an act of divine intervention, but embedded memories and conspiring brain regions, scientists now believe, are the source of ad-hoc creativity” So suggests Amanda Rose Martinez … see her article in SEED MAGAZINE – click here.
I suggest that our experiences as students of improvisation will be easier if we undertstand the learning process, so thank you Ms Rose… but now the community of jazz educators will be well advised to consider precisely how the research can be applied to enhance schemes of work, learning strategies and practice in general – and to be fair, the findings of this research have been alluded to for at least 30 years through applied (as distinct to cognitive) psychology. This is where the work of figures such as Guy Claxton et al, George Odam and the tried and tested Inner Game authors is useful.
What’s stopping us?