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Another thread got me thinking about this, plus that rant from Jason Marsalis. Now that jazz is accepted as part of mainstream education it seems that pedagogies have had to be developed which fit in to the accepted academic norms. I mentioned in that thread that I thought that (as an example) the idea of the scale syllabus is convenient for teachers as it's easier to assess objectively, but doesn't really fit in with the way jazz was learnt by the greats of the so called golden era (40s- 50s).

It could be therefore that it's that very pedagogy which is shaping the way that jazz is and will evolve. A new genre is maybe emerging: campus jazz. My concerns are that by learning modes and scales to go with chords, the very essentials of chord tones, guide tones and context of functional harmony for creative melodic impro get short (or no) shrift.

But, and this is what I'm getting at, how useful is it to teach jazz, or rather make jazz the sole genre of a university or college program, given that maybe less than 1% of the students graduating will become professional jazz musicians? When I was at college it seemed that those who didn't graduate but bunked off doing gigs and tours were more likely to end up playing at least some jazz professionally.

What I would prefer to see are courses (for those musicians who don't want to do a classical performance course) that encompass many non classical genres, e.g. pop, rock, blues, folk as well as jazz.

I think this is possible here in the UK (when I taught at University it was in fact a recently developed jazz and pop course, and students could (and did) choose any genre to specialise in. We had funk, folk, ska, jazz, rap and a couple of MC/scratchers/DJs.

I did quite a lot of work to keep this course on the rails, but did meet some stiff opposition amongst some academics who wanted to change it back to just jazz.

I wonder what people here think of this, a good idea or not? Or should universities continue attempting to teach jazz as a course?
 

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I guess the question is more how or what elements are being taught. The schools can teach whatever courses they want, but the content makes all the difference. I know at my small college, we did have jazz improv and combo classes, but I think I probably learned as much in an Evolution of Jazz/Rock Class. (Which was actually taken by a lot of non-music students).

Developing a deeper appreciation for the earlier styles discussed resulted in listening to a wider range of music which probably leads to a more well-rounded player. So, I think an important part of any good jazz program would involve spending a lot of time on styles and evolution.
 

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I see I was mistaken, now that I've read better.

I think that several places offer modern and also world music next to jazz, so I think it is possible to combine these studies
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
modern and world music?

Modern as in Light music and Pop and Rock
Ah that is more what I'm thinking of. Light Music reminds me of the old BBC Light Programme: Mantovani, Souza and lots of stuff like this:


I suppose I was basing my observations on the many posts I see here re: US universities that seem to just have classical or jazz, and nothing that would better prepare a student for (for want of a better phrase) modern commercial music and working as a pro. I'm sure you are correct and that England is not the only place where such courses are available, but my experience of the US (including going there to give undergrad and postgrad seminars) is that this is not the case. Maybe I'm wrong, I still have a nice collection of edible hats.
 

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Yeah, it exists. An it has existed for quite sometime. I spent a year in a College in '87 that had a "Professional Entertainment Training" program. It was basically how to run a variety or GB band. You did a full floor show. A cocktail Jazz set and then performed two sets of dancing music from swing-jazz up to the modern hits of the day.

It actually came in quite handy.

I think schools like Berklee are doing this as well. And trying to round out the education of these musicians with counterpoint, arranging, ear training, and etc... and it seems to work or help more than it hurts.

The main reason these programs seem to struggle is that some kids are just not teachable. Let's face it. Music is too personal and abstract to be an academic certainty. I think this is why there is such a need for measureable progress.
 

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The main reason these programs seem to struggle is that some kids are just not teachable. Let's face it. Music is too personal and abstract to be an academic certainty. I think this is why there is such a need for measureable progress.
Exactly my point in the other thread.

Hopwever there are other things that can be used for assessment criteria.

In my course we used to give marks for stage production and image as well as pplaying. yes, those things can be still a bit subjective. The other thing that can/should be taught is self promotion.

Like get them to make a website, promote their own gig and base some assessment on website hits or ticket sales.
 

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Yeah, it exists. An it has existed for quite sometime. I spent a year in a College in '87 that had a "Professional Entertainment Training" program. It was basically how to run a variety or GB band. You did a full floor show. A cocktail Jazz set and then performed two sets of dancing music from swing-jazz up to the modern hits of the day.

It actually came in quite handy.

I think schools like Berklee are doing this as well. And trying to round out the education of these musicians with counterpoint, arranging, ear training, and etc... and it seems to work or help more than it hurts.

The main reason these programs seem to struggle is that some kids are just not teachable. Let's face it. Music is too personal and abstract to be an academic certainty. I think this is why there is such a need for measureable progress.
Well if you not teachable over here they just kick you out. You(the kid) wants to be a musician, then you better start learning.
 

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Pete's original post mentioned a concern with "campus jazz" and students not delving into the more creative and arduous methods to discover an original voice. Where objectivity and straightforward methods thrive, creativity is stifled. I can agree with that basic concept. It's really no different than the criticisms leveled at MFA toting artists, Ph.D toting engineers, or MBA toting entrepreneurs. With formal training, comes a method. Methods do not always point to inspired moments, but they do a great job of approximating how others came to their own success. I do think jazz has changed because of the influence of the university, but then every now and then I'll stumble upon a new sound and it more often than not came from outside the university. There is still plenty of originality out there. For me, I'm glad I studied through a university. I am a better player now for it; I'm also more aware of what it is that I lack to really be a "great."
 

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Exactly my point in the other thread.

Hopwever there are other things that can be used for assessment criteria.

In my course we used to give marks for stage production and image as well as pplaying. yes, those things can be still a bit subjective. The other thing that can/should be taught is self promotion.

Like get them to make a website, promote their own gig and base some assessment on website hits or ticket sales.
This was the same type of thing we had to do in the P.E.T. program along with creating a press package and demo and cover some basic economics (we had a tax professional come in and financial advisor as well). Honestly, I think this program helped me in many ways to see the bigger picture in professional music. I didn't really use a lot of that knowledge until I cam eoff the road and was tending to a family. But I think it makes sense.

If one approaches it from a "small business" angle then you can open some doors to some kids who may not have the talent to continue as players but have the talent for tech and management issues that some players lack.

Plus using a small business approach is good for creating diverse musicianship. You learn the importance and value of being multidimensional. Players were encouraged to learn a second instrument and switch off for performances in my program. I think it is a primary reason why I can stay so employable today as a musician. Now, going to Berklee and NEC really helped me to focus on the types of music and playing that I love and I thoroughly enjoyed and soaked up a lot of information that helped me do the things I love. But I consider myself lucky to be in a position where I can appreciate and take advantage of opportunities outside of my own "bag" as well as have some knowledge of production and management to lean back on. As I don't lead a band I don't have to spend a lot of time on these things, but it has imporved my asset quality as well because many leaders trust me and come to me for advice in certain affairs and I can use some of that experience.

Altogether, I think it makes me a better musician and associate to have that sort of experience. And it doesn't hurt that I make more actually playing music than most of my musician friends who do it "full time."

Well if you not teachable over here they just kick you out. You(the kid) wants to be a musician, then you better start learning.
yeah, but institutions over here want to collect tuition - not kick kids out. There are too many failed rock star wanna be's to keep them afloat so having a different angle helps. We can't all be teachers and bebop experts. Some one has to be the musical equivalent of the janitor (that's me). The nice thing about that is that a lot of great musicians leave money all over the place because they don't want to sell out or pass up their big moment. So I will be happy to cover that ground and give them their free time. ;)

Though I agree that if you can't cut it - you may wish to find something else to do. I know that institutions do more than just teach. THey also employ musicians and give them a living wage as instructors or IT or student services support... So, only keeping the A+ students seems like it makes sense. But most "full timers" couldn't pay the rent without hacks and wanna be's looking for that little secret to send them over the top. And one can never be certain what will transpire.

I had a friend who taught at a prestigious music college. As he was grading a paper and had just givien a student a "D" on that assignment - he looked up and saw that same student on MTV - performing. He decided he was done teaching after that.

Funny, this thing called life.
 

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I think creativity is only stifled by the individual. People thrive under duress in so many environments. If campus jazz kills jazz it's because we want it to die.

If Campus jazz is stifling creativity then I hate to think what prejudice and racisim would've done to it... oh wait it thrived.

If one is truly inspired and driven - their voice will be heard whether campus jazz is their or not. Maybe campus jazz turns off audiences. I can't imagine their enough cats listening to it to matter. And who is "campus jazz"? that was never really clarified. Anybody got a list (I'm guessing this is Vijay Iyer, Dave Douglas, Mark Turner, and that sort of thing?).

Maybe I'm confused but I think there is room for all of this. Some of us won't make the top cut, we can still learn and develop our voices, but not everyone wants to hear it.

And some are in that upper crust.

And some of us are goign to bake the pie, or clean the pans. I think if anything, we have more inspired and individual musicians today than ever before. There is just so much music that we can't even begin to comprehend it all.
 

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BTW.

"the very essentials of chord tones, guide tones and context of functional harmony for creative melodic impro get short (or no) shrift"

I can tell you that this is a dangerous assumption. In my experience - chord scales were actually down played and the importance of these subjects were made paramount in academia. It's funny how a lot of people hear different things.

When at berklee I heard "yeah, many people would call this the 'chord scale' but that is really a misnomer" or "you can play that and it won't sound wrong, but the importance is on these tones - the chord." so I find that attack of pedagogy to be more from the Aebersold camp then from the actual institutions. But I'm sure other schools teach it that way.

And in my theory clases, arranging, counterpoint, ear training, private lessons, etc... functional harmony, guide tones, and chord tones were stressed to the point that chord scales were rarely mentioned.
 

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I think creativity is only stifled by the individual. People thrive under duress in so many environments. If campus jazz kills jazz it's because we want it to die.
A few of us do. A lot could care less. A lot who do care have a limited idea of what jazz is.

(I'm not going to touch Jason Marsalis' opinions. Most discussion over on the other thread is about him, his family, and his city, rather than whether or not he's out to lunch about jazz. YMMV, but if he weren't a Marsalis, he wouldn't even have an opportunity to say such things. Most players, even great ones, don't get to.)

Another thing to consider is that most music schools are not interested in nurturing individuals. They turn out musicians and leave the individuality to you, and if you're lucky, your private teacher. Most don't even know where to begin. Many more, I imagine, would develop individuality if they hadn't learned to associate learning with following.

I think if anything, we have more inspired and individual musicians today than ever before. There is just so much music that we can't even begin to comprehend it all.
Not only is there so much music, there are so many musicians - and so little hearing for them. Many who could, and in fact want to, will never break out and do their own thing, because their training did not encourage it. It wouldn't be right. It wouldn't be the musicianly thing to do.
 

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My answer to this is:

Go to the website of any decent college jazz program and read the credentials of the faculty (including adjuncts). Then, ask yourself: where else are young musicians going to get the experience of learning music on a daily basis from professional musicians of this caliber.

FWIW: the sax prof at my university is a monster jazz musician, not an academic. In fact, he didn't even have a B.mus when he was hired. He gets creative melodic improv, believe me!

Amen to Swampcabbage!
 

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Most places, you can't even be an adjunct without an MM - which in turn requires a BM or BA(Mus). You need to show you not only can fit into established music ed, but that you've spent at least those 6 years doing it.

Part of the cause may be that a lot of music ed now consists of teaching teachers. We've long ago passed the point where you needed to have a degree to teach seriously. Often today you need a degree to play seriously - the bands I play in are made up largely of educators.
 

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Not only is there so much music, there are so many musicians - and so little hearing for them. Many who could, and in fact want to, will never break out and do their own thing, because their training did not encourage it. It wouldn't be right. It wouldn't be the musicianly thing to do.
Don't you get private lesson in music schools?
 
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