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

Larry Walton Entertainment larrys.bands at
Sat Oct 22 08:39:19 PDT 2005

Russ - BeBop is a form that explores the colorations of music and by 
it's nature is different.  It is a jazz  form so different that to do it 
is often difficult for those of us raised in a melodic tradition of 
jazz.  It's the argument between vertical and  linear jazz.  Is it 
exploring the  chordal structure or is it  exploring the  melodic 
structure?  Be Bop explores the chordal and I like you just don't care 
for that.  I guess that I'm the kind of guy that thinks that  music 
should start somewhere and  go somewhere whereas Be Bop explores the 
technical complexities of the chordal structure and that's the goal.  
This is all so intellectual that it leaves almost everyone in the dust.  
This is great if you fancy yourself to be a genius.  I have seen people 
who didn't have a clue walking around with a cocktail going on about how 
great the guys that were playing were. 

IMHO the reason why it's difficult to play is because only a musician 
with the greatest ability can even start to pull it off.  Almost 
everyone else plays nonsense and clouds of notes that go nowhere and 
then congratulate themselves how wonderful they are.  To learn how to 
play a particular style you have to like it and I just don't care for it 
unless the guys playing it are really good.  I think of Be Bop as a Jazz 
backwater or maybe the end of the line or so far as the public is 
concerned the last straw.  I think that you could draw a line that would 
trace the decline in jazz audiences and appreciation with the advent of 
experimental jazz and Be Bop.  Jazz audiences dropped like a rock (late 
40's to 50's) in favor of more understandable music such as rock and 
C&W.  I definitely think that this was the seed of it's destruction.

I was playing at one of the hotels two weeks ago and the lounge group 
featured Tom Kennedy on bass.  Tom is a genius on that instrument and is 
capable of amazing things and everyone there completely understood what 
he was doing.  He also talked to the audience like they were part of his 
in group not like they were beneath him.  He was playing a mix of 
linear, melodic jazz and vertical jazz..

Your experience with the clarinet player from the Symphony is typical.  
I chose to not be confined by music but they choose to be restrained by 
zillions of musical rules and try to each time fit into a mold crafted 
by the composer and conductor.  This of course requires great discipline 
and concentration which becomes a goal in itself.  When I was playing in 
a symphony orchestra I came to feel that I was nothing but a musical 
reproducer a lot like a tape recorder that someone else turned on and 
off.  Needless to say I don't do that anymore.

If you are so used to having someone else tell you what to do it's like 
living in a dictatorship which is exactly what that guy was living 
under.  He had no more idea what the freedom of jazz could be like than 
a resident of a country under a political or religious dictatorship 
would understand our form of democracy.

Simply put jazz is the expression of individual freedom whereas what we 
call classical music isn't.  Could that be why it flourished here and 
spread around the world.  Watch the Movie "Swing Kids".  That movie sums 
up the desire for individual freedom music brings for the player as well 
as the listener.

Larry Walton
St. Louis

Russ Guarino wrote:
> Frankly,
> I do not understand Be-Bop.  I work at Trad Jazz and can play it
> reasonably
> well, but when I hear be-bop, I realize how different it is and how
> difficult it
> is for me to play in that style.
> Perhaps this is a parallel example of how classical musicians react to
> trad
> jazz.  They just don't get it and would have to spend a lot of time to
> learn it.
> I was playing with my Dixie band at a mall and a guy came up and said..
> "I'm the
> clarinet chair in the Monterey Symphony and I have never played
> Dixieland.
> Would it be possible for me to sit in with you guys for a tune or two
> and try
> it?  I'll run home and get my horn".
> I was delighted to have him play with us.  
> He did and he absolutely could not make any sense of it.  It was so sad. 
> He had a great left brain, but no right brain at all.
> It takes time.  And before you get it, it's gobbledygook.
> Russ Guarino
> Larry Walton Entertainment wrote:
>> 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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