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At my school, improvisation is stressed from day one of freshman year. Luckily both of my directors were professional jazz guys around town (trombone and percussion) before coming to teach. We have an improvisation class once a week for beginning students, and many different combos that help us develop. We spend a bit of time in class but almost the whole band is taking private lessons that help with the improvisation. Even still, all of the solos go to me, the tenor 1 player or the trumpet 2 player.
 

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We don't work on a whole lot of improv. Teacher taught us the basics...that's about it. To me, knowing that and actually taking solos = you get better, and 80% of the guys in our band are too scared to take one. It is fun if he asks for volunteers I usually get a group saying a certain name and he'll pick that person...

Though me, the 2nd alto, and 2nd trumpet DO know who Rich Perry is, we saw him live last year ;)
 

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I think Mr. Perry looks like this:

 

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My high school jazz program was a bit of a joke, honestly. We had 2 full jazz bands, but very very little was done with improv. When I graduated (I had played bass most of the time in high school, not sax) I went on to major in Jazz Studies on Bass in college. Good lord was I unprepared. I went into my audition with a written out bass line; couldn't solo, couldn't walk over a chord progression, nothing. No idea what a ii-V7-I even was. I still can't believe they let me in, but they did. I still get angry over how little actual musical knowledge I gained from high school. In the years since, I've been gigging around town and learning as I go, and I've picked up more in that time than I ever did in high school.

I'd say if you're not getting what you want from classes in high school, go find someone who can teach you. If you're near a bigger metropolitan area, you should have no trouble. If you're in a small hick town like I was, I wish you the best of luck.
 

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Back in the old days (1973) our jazz band had at least one guy per section to take solos. So there was always a decent trpt (me), sax, bone, and or guitar/piano in the jazz ensemble. We were always beaten (parkway west) but an awesome program Raytown north. Out of Kansas City these guys played the heck out of Kenton Charts and the solos were at a college level of playing. I think the soloing carried as much weight as the ensemble playing in the contests we were in. Our concert/jazz/marching band director went to North Texas State so we were lucky. Today, our local Jazz band I think is on the ropes from California budget cuts. I heard them rehearse last year and its obvious that few take private lessons so my hats off to the the band director.
I did get a love of jazz from the music programs in school but I also was listening to bitches brew by Miles when I was in grade school so I had that bias going in. Whats really missing these days is the traveling big bands who'd do clinics at a school for a day. Kenton, Don Ellis, Doc Severnson, Clark Terry, Maynard, all came to our high school and did concert/clinics. That was truely the most inspiring music events in my early life. I guess we (Univercity City High) were rich and didn't know it? K
 

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I came from a middle school that was lucky enough to have a good Jazz teacher. Great guy, could improv well, but he didn't stress improv so much, because of the uncooperative kids in the class. Coming out, we had a great drummer (not much improv skill, but lots of grooving skills), a good bassist (again, no improv skill), and the rest of the group. Don't get me wrong, though, everyone came out as a good player, but as far as improv, it was down to a trombone and me, or the transcribed solos. Heh... that brings up my worst screw up (switching from a very closed to a pretty open mouthpiece a few weeks before a major concert...). As for the high school in that area, they had some great people for improv.

But, unfortunately, I moved, and ended up in a small town, where it was a two tuba jazz band (and no dirty dozen charts to be found), and a whole lot of marching, so I ended up quitting. I kept trying to talk the director into helping me form a small combo for out-of-school jazzin', but he never got around to it.
 

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Jazz Band in my school was a bit of a joke. Improv. was stressed around All-reigon try outs. And then kind of dropped. We were encouraged to take solo's, if we could do it.
I could and often played some killer solo's when it was time for me to play them. I still don't understand the finer points like the theory behind it. But I will get there in private lessons.
 

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I taught HS jazz band for a number of years (Jr. High as well). I always tried to do a variety of styles, and yes, at times some of the pop cheese charts. I did what little I could with improv, considering it was a once weekly night rehearsal, and I really don't improv much myself on clarinet (I play "at" jazz sometimes). You do what you can. My bands won awards.
 
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