Modern jazz musicians simply can’t afford to base their music on one tradition only. More and more they are expected to understand and play several styles. Jazz, classical, pop, various Balkan styles, even Indian and Arabic music with their intricate use of scales and rhythms are all part of contemporary improvised music.
The challenge however is not to master all types of music; it is to find your own voice incorporating key elements of different styles. In jazz, individuality is very important and the more musical tools you have at your disposal, the easier it is to express yourself.
- Find your own voice. Refine it. Be you. That's what matters in jazz -
This workshop is for all intermediate and advanced instrumentalists and singers and is all about improvisation, about how to make the most of your musical ideas. It's about how to find different angles from which to approach the music.
I have written a series of short exercises based on melodic, rhythmic, harmonic and text fragments. These exercises are aimed at taking students out of their comfort zone and challenge them musically and technically. They get a few minutes to study the material and then are invited to play two short performances based on the fragments, each with a different stylistic approach. Every student gets personal feedback as their musical decisions are discussed and thought processes are analyzed. After a short break, small ensembles are formed and invited to do the same exercises as a band and without discussion before playing. This forces students to open their ears and be ready to react to whatever the other band members are playing. Listening and making choices are the two most important factors in this exercise. As with the solos, the ensembles all get feedback on their performances.
Clarinetists and saxophonists are also given technical advice about sound production and manipulation, breath control and embouchure.
Ultimately, students will learn how to make the most of their improvisational ideas, and how to use the different tools (melody, harmony, rhythm, lyrics) to their advantage when constructing a solo in any musical context. Flexibility is key.
- Open your ears. Know what to play. Know when to play. Be inspired -
This workshop has an added performance element. As students play they will be watched by their peers as if they were a paying audience. What does the performer do to keep them glued to their seats? Is he/she aware of them at all? All live performances have an element of entertainment, and students are encouraged to think about their on-stage personality, body language and general attitude.
The workshop is concluded with a short performance by all, using all the techniques that were worked on.