Dr. Dave Camwell
MUS 382: Jazz Methods
Jazz Philosophy Paper
My Jazz Philosophy
A jazz program should have its main focus on a singular jazz band. If there are enough students that want to be in jazz band, form a second jazz band and have tryouts to see who needs to be in the top band and who needs to be in the lower band. A jazz program should also include a jazz combo if there are enough students interested. The combo could be used as a means to introduce students to jazz, playing with others, and can serve as a means of learning how to solo.
Finally, a jazz program should include a listening library to help students learn how jazz sounds, and how masters of this art form play the music the way they do.
There are three ways that one could instruct their students in the jazz idiom. One way is having them look at sheet music and sing the syllables back to you. This is handson learning and very effective as a way to teach students the jazz idiom. The next way is to play eight notes in a th straight 8 pattern, then show them the swing pattern. This will help them grasp the feel of jazz
and its subgenre, swing. The third way is to teach students aural skills, and after time the students will be comfortable in playing back intervals that were played. After learning how to articulate,
how to swing, and how to play back intervals, students can then begin to learn how to improvise and be set up to excel in that area.
I felt like I was weakest in jazz syllables and improvising at the beginning of the semester. Sure I could sing back the articulation in jazz band, and I could improvise the best I could over changes but until we did the unit over syllables and improvisation, I lacked confidence these areas. Now I feel that I could sing any jazz articulation in any chart, and teach others to do so as well. As for improvisation, I learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t when you’re soloing and I gained more confidence in my own playing in other situations. My evolution as a jazz educator just started at the beginning of this semester, but I now feel more confident about teaching jazz than I have about teaching other subjects.
As an educator that is continuing to grow, I’m going to continue to work on my aural skills and my air detection. My aural skills are decent but they aren’t exactly where I want them to be. I can play along with songs if they are easy and in an easy key, but I want to be able to be comfortable playing along with anything I hear, simply because that’s the most enjoyable experience for anyone. I want to improve my air detection skills because sometimes I don’t always hear the mistakes that are being made, and the thing that is crucial to a growing band is positive, real feedback into how they are doing and what they made mistakes on. I’m going to
work on my aural skills by playing along with random music tracks to see if I can play along and get better every week. I’m going to improve my air detection just by really listening to live performances of big bands and combos.
My current personality in front of the band is a little bashful, and not assertive. I feel like if I heard someone make a mistake in the band I wouldn’t call them out on it because it’s not in my nature to be assertive. That is a problem that I would have to work on as I develop as a director. If the Indianola big band was mine to director and work with, I would be excited but on the other hand, anxious.
The biggest surprises any new and unexperienced jazz band director would find are, balance and blend, and overall band cohesiveness. Balance and blend issues happen because the balance and blend of most high school bands aren’t the best, and it mainly has to do with the fact that students don’t quite understand how balance and blend work. Band cohesiveness, especially in the rhythm section, is important because if you don’t have cohesiveness, everyone will be off.