[Dixielandjazz] Mostly Self Taught Musicians
barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sat Sep 13 11:07:40 PDT 2003
I agree, of course. We are looking at the issue from different perspectives. I
also note that roughly 25% of the principal chair musicians on all instruments
in the ranking US Symphony Orchestras are graduates of Curtis Institute of
Music in Philadelphia. I would suspect that Julliard grads enjoy similar
positions. And, I have no argument with anyone who wants to believe that two of
years of instruction makes a man a "trained" musician. I just believe that it
takes a hell of a lot more than that to be "trained" and that in Benny's case,
he did the rest on his own and is therefore "mostly self taught".
His approach to playing the instrument was (according to him) changed in 1949
through a few lessons with Reginald Kell, so that foundation and classical
technique he got from Schoep may not have been as strong as we might think.
Also, his tone had an edge to it which no classical players used. It was his
own and it was a jazz tone. His classical playing was OK, but no where near up
to that of Kell or other great classical clarinetists of the times.
On the other hand, he was the King of Swing and earlier a wonderful hot jazz
player. He was the TOP GUN of "Jazz" clarinetists (as defined then by the
audience). He did not learn that from two years of instruction from Schoep, or
a few lessons from Kell. He learned that on his own, certainly with some help
from his "lessons", but mostly on his own from listening, gigging and self
practice. In short, paying his dues.
Perhaps we are splitting fine hairs, but I see what he accomplished "self
taught" as far greater that what he was taught. I also totally agree with what
you write in your last paragraph. And Benny certainly had the musical ability.
Heck, he was in the union and gigging by age 14 and from that point on he was
unstoppable. And from that point on, with few exceptions, he had no formal
I wish music was that easy for the rest of us.
Stan Brager wrote:
> 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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