I was surfing the website of David Valdez and came across the tributes to and Ph.D about the American jazz educator Charlie Banacos. This man was a very significant figure and worth investigating if like me, you are unaware of his work (see CasaValdez for more information)… Just for starters some of the saying attributed to him:
“If you play with your fingers, you’re dead”
“The fingers are passive”
“The body doesn’t want to stop”
“The body doesn’t like angles”
“Row the boat”
“You feel like a diver by the side of a pool, ready to jump”
“Play with your arms, not your fingers”
“Of course it’s difficult; that’s why they call it an etude”
“Ear training—it’s Zen, not Aristotelian”
“Gain purchase”
“Don’t measure” (as you practice ear training—hear it all at once)
“Piano technique—it’s Aristotelian, not Zen”
“Each note has its own shape as it goes by, like you’re driving by the planets”
“Keep your fingers near the keys, and don’t be afraid to raise your wrist”
“Don’t change the exercises”
“It’s a coordination problem”
“Just because you don’t speak like MLK doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk”
“Think of the numbers, not hand positions”
“Circles, Squares, Triangles -separate them” i.e. one idea after the next, not on top”
“Plan your practicing, or you will be overwhelmed”
“Use all the tensions on the lines; use all the figurations for each voicing”
“It doesn’t matter what finger you use”
“Think like a drummer, using space and range”
“Close your eyes and sit in the audience watching and listening”
“Re: sight reading—it’s a craft, not an art”
“Oh, and do it in all twelve keys.” Kill!
“Divisive rhythm/additive rhythm”
“Elephant with a stick in his trunk” (using it as a guide as you walk/play).
“He’s [insert name here e.g. Mingus, Jerry B. etc.] whacked, but he can play”
“Deep into the keys” (toward the center of the earth and toward the fallboard)

Apparently, he also would stress the following…
“It’s not technique, its timing” —Oscar Peterson
“Practice without accents” —Oscar Peterson
“The body is a rock; the arms are snakes” —Claudio Arrau
“All notes are ‘up’ notes” —Martha Argerich
“Feel the Ground” —Anton Rubinstein
“It’s all about circles” —Chick Corea
“Think of elephants, giraffes and hippos as you play” —Bill Evans
“C fingerings in all keys” —Franz Liszt
“Giant Steps solo in all keys” —George Coleman
“Music is Technique”—Nadia Boulanger
“Practice for the performance” —Chick Corea
“You must be a good draftsman before you can be a great painter” —Bill Evans
“Practicing is pushing a wall—you wake up the next day the wall has moved” —Bill Evans
“Don’t force the keys” —Art Tatum (to Red Garland)
“Each time is different”—Artur Schnabel, upon practicing the same phrase 200 times
“Three hours before breakfast” —Mike Stern
“Enslavement to the notation” —Craig Taubman
“Nothing difficult about it—just hit the right keys at the right time” —J.S. Bach
“You can’t be unhappy and be learning something new at the same time” —Merlin

Everybody has their opinion about how to play the music. Monk was a one-off, a totally individual and realised artist, but he thought about it, in his own way too. This manuscript is freely available on the web (I found it at Sean Driscoll’s excellent blog – check it out). Makes a change from chords and scales…

  • Just because you’re not a drummer, doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep time.
  • Pat your foot and sing the melody in your head, when you play.
  • Stop playing all those weird notes (that bullshit), play the melody!
  • Make the drummer sound good.
  • Discrimination is important.
  • You’ve got to dig it to dig it, you dig?
  • ALL REET!
  • Always know….(MONK)
  • It must be always night, otherwise they wouldn’t need the lights.
  • Let’s lift the band stand!!
  • I want to avoid the hecklers.
  • Don’t play the piano part, I’m playing that. Don’t listen to me. I’m supposed to be accompanying you!
  • The inside of the tune (the bridge) is the part that makes the outside sound good.
  • Don’t play everything (or every time); let some things go by. Some music just imagined. What you don’t play can be more important that what you do.
  •  A note can be small as a pin or as big as the world, it depends on your imagination.
  • Stay in shape! Sometimes a musician waits for a gig, and when it comes, he’s out of shape and can’t make it.
  • When you’re swinging, swing some more.
  • (What should we wear tonight? Sharp as possible!)
  • Always leave them wanting more.
  • Don’t sound anybody for a gig, just be on the scene. These pieces were written so as to have something to play and get cats interested enough to come to rehearsal.
  • You’ve got it! If you don’t want to play, tell a joke or dance, but in any case, you got it! (To a drummer who didn’t want to solo)
  • Whatever you think can’t be done, somebody will come along and do it. A genius is the one most like himself.
  • They tried to get me to hate white people, but someone would always come along and spoil it.

Jazz education in the UK owes an enormous amount to Graham Collier (alongside Eddie Harvey and Lionel Grigson) without whom our current positions and extent of provision would been considerably harder to achieve.

As well as being an instigator of projects for young jazz musicians, Graham was an articulate and politically astute advocate for the music within the academic world, at a time when degree courses did not exist within the conservatoire sector. To initiate and establish a course at the Royal Academy was no mean feat in those days and assisted us in all institutions.

Unfortunately I didn’t know Graham well but he was always generous and supportive to me, never assuming a protective position regarding his host institution or his own position as Head of Jazz at the Royal Academy. Instead he actively encouraged vigorous debate and even criticism of his own work.

Jazz Education in the UK has lost a pioneer, advocate and supporter.

The Curriculum – all that is taught and learnt…
Core and hidden…
Planned and received…
Formal and informal…

 

Can we have an informed debate please?

We find ourselves in an historic time when education is about to the redefined by the course of political determination, we would be well advised to be mindful of the purpose of education and how teaching and learning occurs. While the nature and content of learning experiences have already changed due to the technological revolution, for whatever reason and whatever political persuasion suits you or I, the presence and provision for a range of subjects and learning processes are possibly about to change through a course of action that will be described as progressive, radical, essential, urgent… or reactive, dangerous and without educational rationale – depending upon your perspective.

Would it not be prudent to be informed? Even if a radical reassessment is necessary, all parties would be better served through deep consideration and evidence-based understanding of the core issues. Vic Kelly understood the curriculum and engages us in a thorough consideration of the psychological, philosophical, political and operational drivers that form the learning culture of schools and colleges. Derived form a latin word referring to a race track, perhaps we should prefer curriculum is less of a race to acquire information, and more a consideration of “all that is taught and learnt”, built upon values as much as operational mechanics and transient values.

A.V.Kelly’s “The Curriculum: Theory and Practice” – click here.

Commenting on the national demonstration against education cuts, UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘The actions of a mindless and totally unrepresentative minority should not distract from today’s message. The overwhelming majority of staff and students on the march came here to send a clear and peaceful message to the politicians.’

Historic demonstration against Cuts in Higher Education

50,000 in stunning march against government cuts

An absolutely extraordinary 50,000 students and staff from UCU and NUS thronged the streets of central London on Wednesday in the biggest education march for generations. The massive turnout was a stinging rebuke to the Coalition government’s plans to cut to education funding and shift the burden of costs of universities firmly onto students. A big thank you to everyone who marched in defence of education.

At the rally outside Tate Britain, UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said, “it isn’t fair to make our public universities the most expensive in the world. It isn’t progressive to discourage young people from going to college. And it isn’t just to ask the next generation to pay for others’ mistakes. Over the next four years while college grants are cut and tuition fees triple, big business will get £8bn in tax giveaways from the government.”

TUC deputy general secretary Frances O’Grady slammed the coalition’s policies as creating “an American-style free market in higher education where the top universities are reserved for the privileged few and everybody else has to make do with second best”, while Aaron Porter, NUS president accused the government of “abdicating its responsibility to fund the education and skills provision we desperately need just as every other country is investing in its future.” It was an amazing turnout and a great march. You can see pictures from the day here: http://picasaweb.google.com/UCUcampaigns/FundOurFutureUCUNUSMarch10Nov10?feat=embedwebsite#

Sally Hunt’s statement on the Milbank protest
Of course, the news agenda on the day was completely captured by the incident at Millbank Tower, which distracted from the pressure being placed on the government by our magnificent march. UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt has written to all members on this and you can read her letter here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=4779


Colleges could lose a third of their adult funding, says research
Further education colleges could face cuts of £2.5m each as a result of the government’s spending plans, according to independent research by the House of Commons Library. The research shows that a typical college, with approximately 20,000 students, could lose out on a third of its adult skills funding. Sally Hunt said: “Cuts of this size would have a devastating effect on local provision and put many colleges in dire financial straits. Institutions would be forced to charge students more in order to plug the funding gap.” Read more here: http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6063037

Cost of studying degree has increased by more than 300%, shows UCU study
The annual cost of studying for a degree has increased by 311.5% since 1988, according to research released by UCU this week. The study, which was released on the same day thousands of staff and students took to the streets of London, showed that a shopping basket of everyday household items rose by just 127.1% in the same period – between 1988 and 2010. UCU said that if Parliament allows tuition fees to rise to £9,000, students starting university in 2012 will face a bill for the first year of their degree (tuition and maintenance loans) 101% higher than their contemporaries who started this year. Read more about this story here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=5109. The research was picked up by the Telegraph and the Daily Mail here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/8121707/Cost-of-a-degree-has-tripled-in-20-years.html and here: http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/news/article-1328301/University-degree-costs-triple-decades.html.


Nick Clegg’s progressive arguments exposed
Nick Clegg’s attempts to paint the Liberal Democrats’ intervention on proposals for higher education as progressive suffered an embarrassing blow yesterday. Standing in at Prime Minister’s Questions, the deputy PM said the richest would pay most for university. However, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that the rich will be better off than they would have been if ministers had adopted Lord Browne’s recommendations. UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “The Liberal Democrats’ argument that their intervention has made for a fairer system already looked ridiculous after they reneged on their pledge to campaign against a fees rise. The findings from the IFS are cause for further embarrassment.” Read more here: http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/5354. The story was picked up by Channel 4 here: http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/tuition-fees-a-better-deal-for-the-rich/4960.

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