This month I’d like to address a few items I hope are of interest to you:
Conference Submissions, Board Nominations, Officer Selections
JEN is in the midst of making our annual major selections in three areas – conference submissions, board nominations and officer selections. A year ago I shared with you the details of the selection processes and that message is available here for your reference. Here are some brief updates:
Conference submissions – JEN has received a record number of submissions for our 2017 New Orleans conference. The organization and preparation of the files for review is a monumental task and is nearing completion. Having looked over many of the submissions, I can tell you we are in for a fantastic conference. Know that JEN takes the utmost care to respectfully review and evaluate each submission. We have assembled teams of fair minded and experienced JEN members to consider each proposal. If you submitted and are not accepted, do not interpret that your submissions was not strong. The competition to present and perform is fierce. We have limited number of slots and so many fantastic people and groups who want to participate. We are grateful for all the wonderful submissions received and I wish it were possible to offer all the worthy submissions at the conference.
Board Nominations – JEN’s Board terms are staggered so each year three or four members complete their terms. As I explained in last year’s March President’s message, the process of selecting a slate of Board members has been designed to meet the needs on the Board that will best serve the organization at this point in time. The skills that will most help the Board do its work change from year to year. The slate presented to you is for ratification and is not an open vote. At JEN’s onset we had an open vote and found the Board sorely lacking in the non-musical skills necessary to do its business. While it may seem unfair that the membership does not have an open vote, we found that approach did not work to get the variety of non-musical skills the Board needs. As with conference submissions, the nominees are thoughtfully and respectfully considered and much care goes into selecting those with the skill sets we think will best serve JEN at the current time.
Officer Selections – JEN’s officer terms are staggered so each year two officers complete their terms. The Vice President and Treasurer are two-year terms and chosen in odd numbered years (2015, 2017). President-Elect and Secretary are selected in even numbered years (2014, 2016, 2018 etc.) The Secretary office is a two-year term but the President-Elect is essentially a six-year commitment. Board members with more than one year of JEN Board service are eligible to be nominated or self nominate for an office and may not serve more than two terms in succession of an office. We will soon begin the process to select our next President-Elect and Secretary.
Suggestions for Summer Studies for Students
Summer break is fast approaching for many of our students. Many of them will not have the structure a school program can offer but are interested in staying involved in learning about and playing jazz. What can be done to keep them engaged and help promote their ongoing progress?
Here are some ideas from a variety of experienced teachers:
Dan Gregerman (Niles High School, John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year):
- Listen a lot!
- Practice improvisation, ( vocalists maybe using the Scatability App.).
- Go to a summer jazz camp/workshop.
Dan Haerle (Jamey Aebersold and Janice Borla workshops, retired from University of North Texas, LeJENd of Jazz Education):
- Learn the melody and harmony of at least one new tune each week!
- Practice something in all 12 keys every day, i.e. major scales, 7th chords, short jazz licks, etc.
- Listen to and play along with recordings. When you hear something you like, stop the recording and try to play something that feels just like it. It doesn’t matter what the notes are! Play at a slow enough tempo to achieve perfection!
Steve Holley (Kent Denver School, Caleb Chapman Soundhouse):
- “Listen”. If there’s one thing I would ask of my students, it would be they listen to music over the summer. Listen to the radio, create a Pandora station, attend concerts, etc. but just listen. Typically, I’ll poll my students on the last few days of school before the summer regarding what they’d like to play the following year. I’ll then send that list out to the group and/or create a Youtube playlist. I’ve found this challenges the kids to expand their ears and sets them up for success in the fall and throughout the year.
- Pass out charts. In the same vein as above, once we create a song list for the upcoming year, I typically make the charts available around July 1. Some students come back in August with the tunes memorized and at performance level while others simply say “what charts…?”
- Get involved over the summer. Go to a camp, take lessons, compose/arrange a tune, get a gig, volunteer with your local arts organization, get an internship at a label, recording studio, or venue – whatever you do, just get out there and get involved. That said, find time to just be a kid, too.
Bob Sinicrope (Milton Academy, Jamey Aebersold workshops, Victor Wooten Berklee Bass Workshop, John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year)
One of my favorite expressions is Inspiration, Education & Fun. If our students have these qualities, this makes the process of guiding them a joy.
- Inspiration – To inspire students, have them immerse themselves in a focused listening for the summer. This could be a particular artist or group or style. Less is more. Better to guide them to approach a smaller amount of material but absorb this material at a very deep level.
- Education – Help them choose a particular concept in their playing such as sight reading, improving groove, or evolving a personalized tone. Again strive for mastery in one or a few areas
- Fun – Encourage them to play with others either informally or formally. There are a number of wonderful summer music workshops. Many of my students have had transformative experiences at the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz workshops. This is one of many jazz workshops all over the world. If attending a formal workshop is not possible, playing informally with friends or with playalongs can be fun and worthwhile and is highly recommended.
Tom Walsh (Indiana University, Jamey Aebersold Workshops)
- Get a gig: cruise ships, amusement parks, Disney All-American College Band
- Go to a workshop: Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshop, Banff Jazz Workshop, School for Improvisational Music summer workshop, David Liebman’s summer workshop, etc.
- Practice every day! Write some music every day. Learn x number of tunes. Learn x number of solos.
- Get lessons with teachers other than your usual teachers.
- Play with other people! Find playing opportunities like going to jam sessions, going to established gigs and asking to sit in.
- Look for opportunities to play for people–local summer outdoor music series, playing on the street, etc. Go out and get some gigs in local venues–coffee shops, bookstores, restaurants, clubs, etc.
Greg Yasinitsky (Washington State University)
- Teach or help out at a music camp.
- Take some private students for the summer.
- Put together a band and try to generate some performances.
I hope this was helpful.