[Dixielandjazz] Mostly Self Taught Musicians

Stan Brager sbrager at socal.rr.com
Sat Sep 13 02:19:16 PDT 2003


We seem to be splitting some fine hairs indeed. There is no doubt that
Benny's first years were spent under the tutelage of some fine teachers
especially Franz Schoep. With Schoep, Benny got a strong foundation for the
clarinet. He learned the classical clarinet technique. He played the
classical clarinet music and he performed classical duets. The foundation of
his playing stems from this time.

Certainly, he picked up jazz on his own - he had to - there were no jazz
classes. But, by this time, he had mastered the fundamentals. This also gave
him an edge when he left Ben Pollack's band to become a studio musician. He
was able to survive by his excellent reading abilities, his classical tone,
and his approach to the music.

It was these fundamentals which colored his music until the day he died.

For these reasons, I believe that he was truly a trained musician.

Furthermore, having a music degree or studying music at Berklee, Juilliard,
etc. indicates a trained musician. But when it comes to playing in the
philharmonic or being a studio musician, success is predicated on musical
ability and not a piece of paper.

Stan Brager

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Stephen Barbone" <barbonestreet at earthlink.net>
To: "Stan Brager" <sbrager at socal.rr.com>
Cc: "DJML" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Friday, September 12, 2003 6:32 PM
Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Mostly Self Taught Musicians

> Maybe, maybe not. Goodman got his first clarinet at age 10. He was taking
> lessons from Schoep at age 11, and playing professionally at age 14. While
> still in short pants, he was spending most of his time in speakeasies and
> halls listening to NORK, and King Oliver. Of course from time to time he
> studied with some of the greats, and yes, even Kell. But then, do we
consider 2
> years with Schoep from ages 11 to 13 as making him a "trained" player?
Even if
> you add a few lessons from Kell later on?
> I spent similar time at similar ages learning to draw at The Art Student's
> League in NYC. A very prestigious place with some very renown teachers.
Yet I
> would be very wrong to say I am a "trained" artist.
> Most of us in music for a living seek out advice from other players,
> from time to time. But that does not make us trained musicians.
> As I see them trained musicians are the ones who go to Julliard, Curtis,
> Berkelee, or Indiana University, or any University and study music, or an
> instrument. Or who have spent more than a couple of "teen:" years taking
> lessons.
> I don't see Goodman as being in that category. I think he did most of his
> "learning" on his own.
> I see him like Bird, or Coltrane. Absorbing the music through his ears and
> practicing like a demon for many hours a day via scale and chord books, or
> playing ALL the scales and ALL the chords time and again by ear. That to
me is
> self taught, even if he asked Kell for a little help along the way.
> Cheers,
> Steve Barbone
> PS. One could also argue that Artie Shaw was "mostly self taught". Read
> autobiography; "The Trouble With Cinderella". (Got his first saxophone at
> 12, was playing professionally at 15.). And he was the one who figured out
> to finger and play the altissimo register on clarinet, all by himself.
> Stan Brager wrote:
> > I don't know about the other musicians you named, Steve, but Benny
> > doesn't belong on the list.
> >
> > He began studying at a local synagogue where he was given his first
> > clarinet. When the synagogue stopped giving lessons, Benny's father sent
> > Benny and his older brothers to Hull House for additional lessons. While
> > still a teen, Benny took lessons for 2 years with Franz Schoep who
taught at
> > the Chicago Conservatory of Music (among Schoep's pupils at the same
> > were Jimmie Noone and Buster Bailey). Other teachers followed from time
> > time. One of more notable teachers (and a nod to our British listers)
> > clarinetist Reginald Kell.
> >
> > Throughout Benny's career, he sought out teachers who could improve his
> > playing.
> >
> > Stan
> > Stan Brager
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Stephen Barbone" <barbonestreet at earthlink.net>
> > To: "Dixieland Jazz Mailing List" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
> > Sent: Friday, September 12, 2003 10:35 AM
> > Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Mostly Self Taught Musicians
> >
> > > In an off list conversation with Warren Vache Sr, (One of the great
> > > players who knows more about the music than most of us) he suggested
> > > that my short list of mostly self taught jazz musicians was "too
> > > He is right and I bow to his wisdom. Said the maestro:
> > >
> > > "I  think  your "short  list"  is a bit too  short.   How  about Jack
> > > Teagarden,  Red Nichols, Frank Trumbauer,  Benny  Goodman,   Bobby
> > > Hackett,  Bud Freeman---and a  few  hundred  others?"
> > >
> > > By the way, Vache Sr. leads the "Syncopatin Seven" jazz band which is
> > > excellent. How many of us have bought his CDs? Do it now as the band
> > > great and he is a giant of a player who should be recognized as a
> > > "National Treasure."
> > >
> > > Cheers,
> > > Steve Barbone
> > >
> > > PS. Yes, he is that old and he is the father of Warren Vache Jr, and
> > > Allan Vache.
> > >
> > >
> > >

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