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Residential courses

Lloyd

Member
Messages
208
Location
Hertfordshire
I fancy attending a short residential course between 2 and 5 days. I notice that Knuston Hall in Northamptonshire runs them and I was wondering if anyone has any experience of this or other courses. I live in Hertfordshire and would prefer not to travel too far.
 

Bari251

Member
Messages
71
Location
Norwich
Have a look at Benslow in Hitchin - I've been on a number of courses run by Victor Obsust, who does jazz improvisation for beginners and improvers. Very friendly and relaxed, with good food and surroundings.
Malcolm
 
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Lloyd

Lloyd

Member
Messages
208
Location
Hertfordshire
Thanks Malcolm,

I've checked this out and it they seem to have a range of courses for all abilities and styles. September looks favourite.
 
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Lloyd

Lloyd

Member
Messages
208
Location
Hertfordshire
Just booked a three day course at Benslow Music Trust in Hitchin at the end of September. There's 10 hours instruction plus some free jamming time. There seems to be plenty of drinking time too so I don't know how the two will mix.
 

Semiquaver

Member
Messages
102
Location
Hertfordshire, England
Lloyd, I have been on two jazz course at Benslow and found them to be very good. The tutor, Victor Obsust, is a classicly trained double bass player from what used to be called Yugoslavia.

His ethos is that you have the music in you it is his job to get it out. He is constantly saying that improvisation is within us all.

Most of the time is set aside for playing. Printed music is provided but i would take a music stand with you as there may be other courses on that week end which results in shortage of stands.

There is theory work but it is basic stuff and not too taxing. The main parts of the day are being split into little combos, sent to rehearsal rooms, practise a couple of tunes and then back to the main hall to perform to the others in the course.

If you get stuck in you will learn a great deal.

Rooms are basic but comfortable and food is good stodge.

Good luck

Jeff
 
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Lloyd

Lloyd

Member
Messages
208
Location
Hertfordshire
Well, just got back from my course and here's how it went.

Monday evening, arrived in time for dinner, which was wholesome and plentiful. 8.30 - 9.30pm was put aside for a group combo; there were 12 of us in all, two Baritones, two sopranos, two tenors and 6 altos, although some of the altos had a tenor or soprano as well. We were of mixed abilities, of which I was, by far, the most inexperienced (12 months compared with several years in some cases). The two course instructors were quite young, energetic and extremely knowledgable and talented.

The days comprised of four, 1.5 hour sessions of groups of 4-6, although we usually ended up the day all together playing anything from Gershwin to Mozart. There was some free time on the second afternoon, which I chose to use as practice time. I found it very tough, as I am hopeless at counting and kept losing my place, especially as I hadn't seen the music before and was sight reading and trying to keep time. However, I found that it got easier the more I played and the others were very patient with me. One thing that I was concentrating on was counting the bars and, if necessary, just playing the first note of each bar if it was a particularly difficult piece. At least that way I could stay (roughly) in time.

On the third day, we were given the option of attending another ensemble or a technical session, which I opted for. This was really useful, as the instructor addressed many of the basics, such as posture, embouchure, slings, mouthpieces, reeds etc. We practiced scales using the mouthpiece only and I was surprised at how many notes I could achieve with a little practice.

The final morning was more of the same, culminating in a group ensemble and I came away having learnt plenty. The course was what I expected. I knew that I would be challenged and, although this was the first time that I had played in an ensemble, I didn't find it too daunting. My timing has massively improved and I'm now going to take the plunge and join a local band run by my instructor.

I recommend this for anyone looking to improve. Benslow run a number of courses throughout the year for all abilities. The cost was around £220.
 
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Lloyd

Lloyd

Member
Messages
208
Location
Hertfordshire
Yes, you're quite right, Gerry McCrystal was one of the tutors, however he recieved some bad news on the penultimiate day and had to fly to Ireland for his Uncle's funeral. He managed to get a stand-in for the final day and it didn't detract from the course at all.

I haven't started the band yet, but it is in Hemel Hempstead and run by my instructor, Richard Palman. Apparently there is a wide range of ages and abilities. He has sent me three scores to learn; Palladio, Badinerie (Bach) and Andaluza, which are all challenging. I've never really been into classical music but I am really enjoying playing these pieces, so anything that introduces me to a different genre has to be a good thing.

The course has really given me confidence and I'm practicing more than ever (4 hours today).
 
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