Easter Jazz Weekend course thoughts....


Well I've returned from the Easter Jazz course held up in Bridgwater, and thought I'd post some thoughts.

My background is I've been playing sax for around two and a half years, in that time passing the Grade 6 ABRSM exam. I've never played with anyone or have any experience in a band situation. I realised I needed to try and start getting over these confidence issues, so after Col suggested this course I decided to go for it.

On a personal level the welcoming was nothing short of outstanding from the people running the course and from other course attendees. In fact I'd say the getting together to share a common passion and making new friends was more important than the course itself. To be able to sit with other people and listen to their musical journeys so far was inspiring regardless of level.

It was fairly obvious when the course started it was based around improvisation, and having never done this before as well as not having a clue what chord notations were including chord progressions made the time spent there interesting to say the least. I did however start getting the basics of thinking in terms of harmony rather than individual notes by the end of the course. I sure have a lot of work to do to start learning/understanding this as (I know I'm quoting the obvious) Jazz without improvisation just isn't Jazz. Forum members Col and Geoff (c9off) were invaluable in helping me through the course.

The tutors themselves were astounding. Andy Hague, Ed Jones, James Allsopp, Riaan Vosloo really can class themselves as first class teachers as well as musicians. The way they presented the lessons, working us through the harmony to a final result of playing a tune with improvisation was very enjoyable and educational. The workshops were equally as good, focusing on rhythms, the art of listening as well as all playing at the same time was one of the best things I've ever done. I think every person no matter what their level gained a lot from the course. The tutors were humble, modest, passionate, patient and good fun.

Playing for the first time in the local pub was nerve racking especially as they had the regulars in there too, but by the end of the weekend I was feeling more confident and was enjoying every minute of performing.

I'm now looking forward to the next part of my musical journey, I realise now why the standard ABRSM exams are thought of as "classical", not so much because of the pieces but because of the way scales/harmonies etc are taught. I'm also going to find a local band of some description to join in with as without that I can see my musical awareness will be very limited. Finally, my love for Jazz music has been reignited, on one workshop Ed Jones played some music and asked us to listen, not sure of the name but one tune by Miles Davis was beautiful.

Highlights for me:
- Playing in public for the first time
- Workshops
- Group lessons
- Making friends
- Watching the "Pro's" play, how much they enjoyed playing
- Watching Col crash out on day 3 after a heavy night (picture to follow) :)

Oh, and my new nickname is Junior LOL.
I'd like to second everything Andy has written.
It was my second time and all the more enjoyable for making new friends such as Andy and Geoff. Not only did we learn masses and play loads, we drank for England (especially Will & Kate), stayed up 'til after 3:00am and still turned-up early for lessons at 9:00am! Made me feel young again (which is little short of a miracle).
The playing from all our group was awesome. Andy excelled with his last solo and I had the pleasure of duetting with Geoff - hope I get to do so again.:welldone
My wife has already noted an improvement in my playing and is encouraging me to go every year (either she wants to get rid of me or genuinely wants me to improve - I'll settle for the latter).;}
Just for the record in case Andy does post that picture - the cider (scrumpy) barrel must have been off as it wasn't just me that suffered the next day, even James (an ex-Royal Marine) was in a bad way.
As the third forum member to attend this course, I would like to endorse what has been said above! The people, both pupils & teachers, made the course - and having a couple of forum members as support was simply great! There was the full range of abilities, and being a jazz course - some with great improvisational skills, sadly not my strength but one of the most important point I've taken away is that for me to improve will need a change of direction. It is not enough just to read the dots, but to think for myself, both from a theoretical point of view and improvisation. Having been told this, and read it, many times just didn't click...

Everyone had a one to one lesson with their tutor, my topic choice was 'emotion' - which actually expanded to a vast amount of quick punch questions & answers ranging from vibrato (& Kenny G of course) through to an inability to recite the alphabet backwards; Ed said that reading dots is one part of the brain but that together with improvisation comes from the other side.... hmmm food for thought! This time was one of the highlights for me.

As Col said, playing drinking & socializing 'till the wee hours also reminded me of years gone by, great fun - and I always turned up for my fried breakfast unlike some others..... his support during lessons was very helpful even if he did look a bit green on day three.... Andy picked up a number of admirers - quite rightly - in spite of a minor embarrassment ;-)

talking about playing is good, but talking & playing is by far more fun!

not the last this time eh?! Where is that picture???
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Geoff mate, you've done it again - ended a thread :)))

Just happy none of those pictures emerged.

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