What do we need in training and CPD? (Richard Ingham) We're here now to discuss what we need in training and CPD - continuing professional development - for jazz education. Why is Continuing Professional Development important, even crucial? Well, it keeps us fresh - that's why we're here, for instance. It gives us the stimuli of new input - encompassing both provocative new ideas and also perhaps reinforcing our existing strategies. It's interesting, in passing, that CPD is standard practice for educators, but still quite unusual for some performers - presumably not those who are here. It would appear that many performers seem to think that going for lessons AFTER graduating from a conservatoire is some sign of failure. Whereas performers in, for instance, golf and tennis, continue to be coached throughout their playing careers. Just a passing thought. So, today we are looking specifically at CPD for jazz educators who wish to hone their existing skills; CPD for music educators who wish to expand their skills into incorporating jazz studies; CPD for performers who wish to extend their activities into the education sector. CPD for us can encompass strategies in the following areas:
introducing improvisation introducing jazz repertoire critical listening building on students' existing jazz skills and techniques - which incidentally are of course very rarely uniform when coaching groups, thus group teaching / class teaching concepts become essential.
It might be in:
developing our own playing - with a freedom from continuous teaching output, which can be refreshing developing our own compositional and arranging skills - so we can provide appropriate level materials more accurately and faster (by responding to demand) developing our rehearsing and coaching skills - so we can make sessions meaningful, lively and musical from start to finish developing our own awareness of historical styles - to help with repertoire choice and encouraging historical awareness in our students.
As far as my own experience of delivering CPD goes, an example would be the courses that I run at the University of St Andrews, and have been for 18 years, courses which attract music teachers who would like to introduce jazz studies into their teaching, or increase the level of their awareness of jazz studies; jazz performers who wish to study theoretical as well as practical aspects in greater depth than before and classical performers who would like to
begin jazz studies, either as a contrast in styles, or with the intention of eventually working in the jazz field. Yes, don't worry, we do warn them about that. All courses require a reasonable proficiency in performance, and are graded at - entry level Certificate, more advanced Advanced Diploma, and a new third year course, the Graduate Diploma. It continues to fascinate me how well the participants all seem to get on, and feed each other with support and information, and treat each other with respect. Not that they wouldn't, but, for instance, the initial level course always gets classical players who are amazed at the improvisational fluency and fearlessness of the jazz specialists, whilst some jazz players who might not have a strong history of reading music can't understand how the straight guys just play every sheet you put in front of them, accurately, first time. Then this strong bond of mutual respect helps to support everyone's studies for the year. My relevant point here is that you can attract a broad base of students with very different needs, and with differentiated teaching and learning, progress can be made. Some students on the courses go on to be award winning performers (yet again this year, the Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the year is an ex-student) and what I find to be particularly rewarding is the high number of teachers who either begin work in jazz tuition, or expand their existing jazz pedagogical skills, or who are promoted to management posts, where they have then introduced and developed strong jazz strands in the curriculum (class based or instrumental). One I heard of this week has just obtained a post in teacher training after a highly successful career in the classroom - that's really great news for jazz education, I can tell you. My ABRSM courses have included Jazz Teach to Reach courses for both instrumental teachers and class teachers, and mentoring on the CTABRSM courses, as well as lecturing on jazz education in South-East Asia and India. The ABRSM has completely re-invented itself in recent years by embracing jazz performance and jazz education. This is mostly the brainchild of Richard Crozier, recently retired as Head of Professional Development at the Board. The Associated Board have gone out on a limb, financially, with the jazz exams, so if you want to ensure this particular support for teachers is maintained, then put lots of people in for their excellent jazz exams. Please. And I get no commission for that. Some sample strategies from these programmes would be: For introductions to jazz improvising ď‚ˇ Rhythm games / groove warm ups. ď‚ˇ Emphasis on aural work ď‚ˇ one bar imitations using one note, then gradually revealing, say, the blues scale This is crucial. You can't walk into a room of scared musicians and point for solos immediately. If you build confidence gradually, gently, then anything is possible. It's a case of learning by immersion, like you do your mother tongue. Which is exactly how the Suzuki method operates. Move to one bar call and improvised response, on a limited number of notes, and before you know it, and before they know it, everyone is beginning to improvise. And all the while 2
they are picking up style detail, rhythmic emphases, articulation - if you pace this aspect properly, you are into effective holistic teaching...classical, range, universal.... Use simple heads with short solos - you then have concert performances ready and it avoids too much directionless improvising Use backing riffs for contrasting repeated material - this helps the overall structure and of course lifts the soloists If you get these bits right, you have people playing with confidence. Remember that many musicians with classical training will think it will all work if they get the right books gradually wean them off this and encourage immersion. I seem to spend half my time in jazz education advising people what books will help them at a certain stage, and the other half telling them to get rid of all their books. There are many many strategies to be employed, even at this level, and don't forget that by working with this music you will be ticking a lot of boxes - for instance:
Learning through performance Melodic imitation Incorporation of dynamics and timbre Rhythmic creativity Melodic creativity Ensemble performance Chorus and verse structure Listening and appraising Musical dialogue Reading skills eventually Memorising skills Recognising grooves Textural awareness Structural awareness Ensemble direction Critical awareness and verbal description Singing and internalising melody Phrasing conventions Awareness of other performers
How can we provide Continuing Professional Development?
Well, conferences like this which fire people up. Sustained courses where the hours suit people - maybe periodic intense sessions over the year. Weekly courses Full-time courses for sabbaticals Short courses, weekends etc. 3
And what problems do we face? Maybe we are enthusiastic but not enough of our peer colleagues are, so not enough numbers. Budget constraints. The fear of not being good enough at jazz therefore unable to encourage it in others. The thought that you'll have to do another three year conservatoire course in jazz before you dare teach it to others. DON'T THINK THAT! Example - I developed and taught on a pioneering pop music course in England in the 1990s. My own experience was really in classical and jazz performance and teaching, but we were able to develop the pop students appropriately so that the generation that they then taught had authentic tuition. Encourage people - they'll run with it. Example - one of my St Andrews students produced a string of high school pupils who are now in the jazz profession, by commitment and intelligent teaching, and THEN went on a jazz course themselves. Other problems - time, of course. Well, make time. Some jazz educators' questions in detail
How do I begin improvisation teaching? How do I cope with different levels of improvisational skill in the same group / class? Ok, we've done the blues scale to death, where now? Where can my star students get regular advanced tuition? How can I work on those who are keen, but not especially gifted - how can I pace the material so progress is made? How do I keep my school band motivated? How can my students learn essential jazz repertoire? How can I coach structural awareness and the development of narrative in solos? What do you really mean by holistic teaching?
And so, we're going to break into groups, followed by reporting on any conclusions. So scribes, please. The question I would like you to consider is exactly as in your programme: What do we need in training and CPD for jazz educators? Please bear in mind that we all come from different musical backgrounds, with different needs, but this should help to inform the discussion. In short - what do we want and when do we want it?
The report from our 2012 Jazz Education Conference is now available online.
Published on Oct 30, 2012
The report from our 2012 Jazz Education Conference is now available online.