Offlist [Dixielandjazz] Wonder what is wrong with music in Schools today ?

Larry Walton Entertainment larrys.bands at
Fri Oct 21 15:39:44 PDT 2005

I know exactly where you are coming from.  You see classical music is an 
exact science with often only one real way to do it.  Jazz on the other 
hand is like  Art, each person is expressing himself and  the results 
are not  exact.  Colleges do a really bad  job teaching  Art too but are 
much more on track than in music.  Jazz requires an entirely different 
set of skills that in my opinion can't be taught in a classroom nor can 
it be taught quickly by the end of a course.  Jazz is a lifetime 
commitment not just for this semester. You also can't really test for it.

Since this is the state of music education I find it entirely possible 
that educated people just don't know what Jazz is all about.  My 
understanding of it is completely different that the teachers that I had 
in school.  They respected me very little because I played jazz and 
worse still made money at it.  They treated me like a druggie.  I had 
several conversations with them that the jist of the conversation was 
how I was wasting such a great talent and that I had the potential to 
play in a symphony orchestra.  The university of Southern Illinois (SIUE 
Edwardsville ) has a good jazzer as the Brass specialist but he is a rarity.

You see it's difficult to teach jazz and like a good friend of mine says 
you just can't teach it.  Maybe that's the problem.  Jazz makes them 
look like they are stupid.  Most of what I learned was from listening to 
jazzers in the AF band and playing gigs.  You can't build walls around 
jazz nor can you effectively teach it except by example.  I personally 
think that it can't be taught out of a textbook  That's why listening to 
jazz is so important.

Moving into jazz for a classically trained musician is like an out of 
body experience.  Musicians will clutch onto the charts and not be able 
to get free of the printed page.  They are completely dependent on it 
like junkies.  They can't soar.  Once you get off the ground and start 
flying it's hard to not look down at them 

Good luck with your quest for jazz.  I've never looked back and you know 
playing in some third rate symphony and being dictated to by some iron 
assed conductor isn't my cup of tea.  I'm not into S&M.  Who cares how 
some other guy wants it played it's how you want it played.  So you see 
Mike, you are on your way to an F in music but on your way to a really 
fun experience..

Mike C. wrote:
>   Thanks for the nice post Larry. I am currently in college myself. I 
> grew up in a myraid of school to where there was little or no jazz 
> program. I mostly was self taught on my horn as well as in jazz 
> improvization. My problem was not knowing how to do it because I was a 
> quick learner. My problem was that I didn't know what to practice and 
> how to practice it.
>   Most of my teachers were, I suspect moderately-poor jazz players at 
> best I suspect. Everything was classical music. I love classical but I 
> don't love it shoved down my throat. I was told that learning jazz was 
> bad for technique.
> What a wonderful web we weave.
> Mike
> Larry Walton Entertainment wrote:
>> In some defense of that music teacher.  I went to a College that is 
>> now a major university but they didn't have any jazz at all.  Another 
>> student introduced me to the mysteries of Chord symbols for example.  
>> They tried to dissuade me from playing in the dives across the river 
>> because it would spoil my appreciation of music and ruin my Oboe 
>> chops.  I also had no training in jazz except I was playing it.  The 
>> school I went to did nothing to help me with the understanding or 
>> playing of jazz.  They were totally against it.
>> Things haven't really changed much except there are pseudo jazz 
>> courses in some music schools today and in almost every music 
>> program.  Those classes are for the most part taught by people who 
>> cannot play jazz.  the reason for this is that most jazzers don't 
>> have degrees stacked up high enough to teach at the college level.  
>> What you end up with is guys that are highly trained in the 
>> intellectual pursuit of music but are short on the hands on part.  We 
>> have a university (I don't use that word though) here in town that 
>> has the highest number of students who can't pass basic reading.  
>> Their teachers came from the same schools and their students 
>> (graduates) will go out and teach more kids who won't be able read 
>> who will in turn become students and professors of that school.  DUH! 
>> what's wrong with this picture.
>> Rather than make fun of that person (may be deserved) It would be 
>> better to try to explain Jazz and Blues so that person might be 
>> better educated then to teach our kids.  It may not be entirely his 
>> fault but the school that he went to.
>> Since I teach still on a part time basis I run into these guys fairly 
>> often in the teaching field.  Most are good intentioned and are 
>> trying to do a good job.  If you know something that they don't and 
>> they will listen then teach them.  Unfortunately some of them are 
>> know it all jerks too.

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