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Changes in Teaching Jazz


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oljackboy
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2021 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting. To the OP's point, the pandemic has definitely expanded all aspects of online instruction. No doubt that musical instruction will expand on the internet.
The bigger question about jazz education and improvising is and has been a source of much discussion over the years. I don't have the answer.
What I have seen and heard during my lifetime tells me that all of the truly great improvisers that I have known and played with have been able to do it since they were very young. I heard Randy and Mike Brecker playing with Horace Silver at the Laurel Jazz Festival in 1968. They were teenagers, and they improvised like, well, Randy and Mike Brecker.
Jazz improvising is obviously a gift. Musicians have it in varying degrees. It has always seemed to me that effective jazz educators strive to make it possible for those players with lesser gifts to learn the language regardless.
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2021 6:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think a big skill of improv playing is being able to quickly and accurately 'play' the the notes and rhythms that are being quickly imagined. My guess is that most of us do some quiet 'scat singing' and 'do be dada dada' improv while listening - but we are unable to transfer those thoughts into playing. We can do that because we don't have to think about the production of the sound - there isn't much need for physical or mental control - the 'think' immediately becomes the 'do'.

It seems that much of jazz improv training and education is about learning and understanding the 'mechanics' (chords, intervals, changes, etc.) that happen to work by doing an analysis of existing pieces. That's fine for understanding the theory, but the improv goal is being able to do spontaneous 'imagine and produce' new material.
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bg
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2021 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do we accept as fact that "jazz is a language?"
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area51recording
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2021 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be fair to Mr. Stamm, I read an interview of him in DownBeat YEARS ago in which he said (parapahrasing here) that he felt he didn't have the abilitiy to be emotionally moving as a soloist, and instead concentrated his efforts on becoming a top notch studio guy.....
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uglylips
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2021 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bg wrote:
Do we accept as fact that "jazz is a language?"


Yes, 100% jazz is a language with various styles, i.e. swing, bebop, etc.
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JoseLindE4
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2021 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’m on team, “it’s a useful analogy that ultimately breaks down when considered with any depth.” Jazz and all music share some similarities to language, but there are important differences. The comparison can provide insight into our understanding of music, but there reaches a point where the analogy doesn’t make any sense. You don’t have to go too deep before you end up dealing in total nonsense — see Bernstein’s intriguing yet nonsensical attempts in his Norton lectures. Adhering too rigidly to the notion that any kind of music is a language seems unnecessarily limiting to me. When it helps you understand or play music better, use the analogy, but it shouldn’t be limiting. Analogies are great tools for understanding the world, but they aren’t reality.
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uglylips
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2021 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JoseLindE4 wrote:
I’m on team, “it’s a useful analogy that ultimately breaks down when considered with any depth.” Jazz and all music share some similarities to language, but there are important differences. The comparison can provide insight into our understanding of music, but there reaches a point where the analogy doesn’t make any sense. You don’t have to go too deep before you end up dealing in total nonsense — see Bernstein’s intriguing yet nonsensical attempts in his Norton lectures. Adhering too rigidly to the notion that any kind of music is a language seems unnecessarily limiting to me. When it helps you understand or play music better, use the analogy, but it shouldn’t be limiting. Analogies are great tools for understanding the world, but they aren’t reality.


Doesn't seem limiting to me and I believe music is a form of communication or language. We don't have to agree about this. Here is an interesting article about it.

https://www.classicfm.com/music-news/study-proves-music-is-universal-language/
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HaveTrumpetWillTravel
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2021 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think there are a lot of similarities with language. This is also why part of why we comeback players struggle. I listened to zero jazz as a teenager and played only a little. When I read about Miles, Wynton, Faddis, etc., they were all pretty serious as young teens.

As with language, there are pros and cons to the technological changes. I can now watch a gazillion videos about how to improv whereas back in the day it would have just been the record player, my trumpet, and me. There are probably pros to both.
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lipshurt
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2021 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The main shift i see is a shift away from using the intellect, and go more with intuition. In other words, using the ears as opposed to theory. For instance, the Vail jazz camp uses (or for a while they did anyway) no paper. Nothing written down. You learn tunes by ear, and then create tunes by ear and teach them to your peers by ear, or by ear and description i guess. But nothing written down.

Transcribing now is less about writing it down and more about doing it by ear and memorizing it.

When i teach my improv class i try to do things more by ear, and dont write down scales. I do use changes on paper, and use leadsheets, and the balance is vaguely half ear and half brain. I do like learning a solo better than transcribing on paper. Paper does have the nice side effect of you can share it and analyze it etc
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Bflatman
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2021 2:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

lipshurt makes a very important point.

Looking back in history we have two contemporaries who were giants

Bix Beiderbecke and Red Nichols.

Red was the son of a music teacher and learned music theory to excess. He demanded of his ensemble members that they write all their improvs down and play them exactly the same way each time. Many players could not get along with this rigid way of playing jazz.

Bix was untutored in music theory and could not read at first and lost opportunities to join top bands because he could not read music. Later he did learn to read but could never do it well. He played everything as an off the cuff improv.

Red had a long career and played until the day he died.

Bix career ended prematurely after he was unable to play a note when called upon to do so. His natural ability to improvise off the cuff left him and he lost his job his confidence and soon after that his life.

To play totally by ear is a risky business and you hang out on the ragged edge to do it and even the best can fall.

So we learn phrases we learn licks we learn what we can to get by and sound innovative and fresh even if what we deliver is stale, but as long as it is wrapped up in a fresh package it gets the job done.

When we listen to recordings of red we hear his dixieland licks embedded in his improvs

When we listen to recordings of ziggy elman we hear his jewish licks embedded in his improvs

We embed what we know and what we recall and what we learned long ago.

If we learn enough licks and play them enough they fall out of the bell without thinking and this is the key to real improv on the fly.

To be instinctive it cannot be constructive.

Like walking - if we have to think of every movement before we do it - lift foot swing leg cock foot lower leg rest heel place toes down shift weight over leg. we manage to move forward but we stumble as we go.

If we have to think of every note and work out the next note to play before we play it in improv then we get through the music but it sounds like we stumble as we go, and we do.

The licks we learn become polished and we string them together like the glue that holds phrases of the underlying melody together and there you have jazz or at least my view of it

A series of melodic phrases bound together by licks and runs

When you only have the licks and runs and no melodic phrases you have chaotic playing which can seem never ending. I want such playing to end quickly and it never ends soon enough.

When you have only melodic phrases and no licks and runs you have boring playing and I am very happy when that ends.

Put them together and you have jazz with life in it and vitality and this always for me ends way too soon.
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delano
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2021 5:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr. Bflatman, you are so wrong that I don't know where to start.
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area51recording
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2021 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bflat Man, I guess the lesson is: Learn the theory, it'll save your life.....you couldn't be more off base if you tried.....
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Bflatman
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2021 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Then I must learn mr delano

and mr area51recording I agree learning the theory is the way to a long career

Perhaps the goal is to have the theory down and build upon that as a support and foundation

Thanks both for being frank with me
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Jaw04
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2021 6:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Changes in Teaching Jazz Reply with quote

Brent wrote:
Assuming the COVID pandemic will be ending, I wonder whether it will effect how some people study jazz, especially in the college setting.

Here's what I mean:

I do think there's a lot of great college teachers out there. That being said, there are some that, well, are not. From my own experience (for reference, I'm 49), I learned next to nothing about improv from any of the classes I took in college. I ended up doing my own thing, which in hindsight seems pretty consistent with how I see a lot of people teach at this time.

My point is: if I were of that age, I might be more selective regarding taking improv lessons, and not just sign up at the college I'm going to. The options you have now, thanks to the digital age we now live in, are far greater.
I have changed my approach to teaching a great deal. My pedagogy has changed and developed over the years just like we all go through growth and change in our lives, work, and musicianship.
I place way more emphasis on playing by ear and getting away from the page, getting away from the books, and developing your personal musicianship through listening, exploring, and being guided along the way by your teacher. I have rejected a lot of the pedagogy that I was taught. Learning music, whether it be jazz or anything else, is about encountering and experiencing music for yourself.
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Brent
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2021 7:29 pm    Post subject: jazz Reply with quote

The other potentially part to consider is cost. You get accepted to one of the top notch jazz schools, for a 4 year degree in jazz performance.

Then what? You conceivably now have massive college debt, so you can pursue opportunities for jazz gigs? That don't sound exactly lucrative. Maybe there's other ways that ain't gonna break the bank so much.
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mike ansberry
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2021 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me, learning technical exercises like scales, arpeggios, modes, etc provides me with the skills I need to make what I hear in my head to come out the end of the horn.
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2021 5:27 am    Post subject: Re: Changes in Teaching Jazz Reply with quote

Jaw04 wrote:
I have changed my approach to teaching a great deal. My pedagogy has changed and developed over the years just like we all go through growth and change in our lives, work, and musicianship.
I place way more emphasis on playing by ear and getting away from the page, getting away from the books, and developing your personal musicianship through listening, exploring, and being guided along the way by your teacher. I have rejected a lot of the pedagogy that I was taught. Learning music, whether it be jazz or anything else, is about encountering and experiencing music for yourself.

------------------------------------------
Have you had to do anything in the way of 'catch-up technical/theory teaching' with your students so they are prepared for your new emphasis method.
You've had years of prior learning and experience as foundation. Have you encountered students who do not respond well because of their lack of that foundation?
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american boy
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2021 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have seen advancement with my students every time without fail, by playing play alongs with them that change the keys of the tunes every chorus. Building nice licks and fitting them in is not the way to go.In no way could that be called improvisation..That is called piecing together a jazz show
..For example Jamie Aebersold has a few volumes that chenge keys every chorus,and especially the one called "Tune Up" has helped to give my students the ability to really get nimble on playing thru the changes..Actually in the late 70s I was talking with one of the all time greats(Woody Shaw) and asked him how he came up with so much "In the moment" and he looked at me and said "Practice Tangerine in F#." He as most of you know,was amazing.
Also,we have to mention to the students the importance of playing live with others,even if its just a bass player..Jazz is after all,a conversation,and you cant have that with a play along..yet anyway!
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Richard III
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2021 7:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apples and oranges. Try learning this by ear. I couldn't do it. Since you mentioned Woody Shaw. Here he is:


Link


But this I could. So could Jim Cullum.


Link

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2021 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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