[Dixielandjazz] IAJE - TJEN - Some thoughts.

tcashwigg at aol.com tcashwigg at aol.com
Sat Jan 20 18:33:48 PST 2007

Well spoken Larry:

I have the same discussion with my International Students who come to 
The USA to study English, several who have been English TEACHERS in 
their country at elementary and high school and college level and they 
can't speak 50 words of English when they arrive.

They have also studied British English in the classrooms and can't even 
begin to speak or understand American English and all it's slang 
elements.  I also send many of them home proclaiming that they learned 
more English at my dinner table than they did in a five to ten week 
course at UC Berkeley.   At School they only stress grammer and 
structure, not conversation and pronunciation and or every day use and 

The same can be said of Music teachers,  in most high schools and 
colleges,  and of course there are exceptions to this situation, but 
the fact remains that it is and has been a problem for over 40 years 
which is why Jazz is  perceived to be in the dumpster in the USA.

It'[s nice to hear it come form a Teachers mouth who has been there and 
seen that,  I was beginning to think I was the one who was nuts, and 
Mike in Denver was not far behind.    No I don't Hate Music or Jazz 
Teachers, except for the ones who have no clue about what the Hell they 
are teaching and are simply marking time to get a paycheck.


Tom,     A drummer who would Read if any of my music teachers had ever 
tried to teach me how. :))

-----Original Message-----
From: larrys.bands at charter.net
To: mike at railroadstjazzwest.com; dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com
Sent: Sat, 20 Jan 2007 12:17 PM
Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] IAJE - TJEN - Some thoughts.

   Mike said- It would also help if the teacher knew about jazz
improvisation. My former teachers did not.

This is a universal problem with H.S. music teachers.  When I got into
college I already had played professionally for several years.  That is 
was making money and for a high school kid it was a lot.  I found when 
I got
to college that what I had been doing and continued to do was not 
in their eyes and was seen as damaging to my future as a classical 
and teacher.

Teachers weren't supposed to hang around in bars and clubs with other 
life.  Even my father in law sat me down and lectured me about how, as 
teacher, I had to watch how I acted and who I associated with.  You 
have thought I was studying for the priesthood or at least to be a

I think this attitude has changed a lot in the past 40 years or so but 
still think that there is an attitude against jazz in the average 
Now they have harnessed the beast.  There is a class or two in jazz 
might even cover improvisation.  But there is little to no practical
experience except maybe playing in a stage band.  In this way they can 
themselves on the back and print in the brochures that they have a 
jazz program.  This is not to say that all the programs are bad but we 
talking primarily about teacher training and I think there is still an
undercurrent there.

A very good friend of mine appeared on HEC channel in a show on jazz
primarily discussing the book City of Gabriels about the history of St.
Louis Jazz.  She is very knowledgeable and has arranged a couple of 
good big band jazz tunes.  She plays with me in the Gary Dammer Big 
Band and
is a very competent alto sax player.  Her father was a jazzer and she 
up with jazz.  She teaches in a high end private school and runs a 
music department.

You would think that all this combination would be jazz dynamite.  Not 
she is terrified to stand up and play a jazz solo.  What's wrong with 

The problem is that High School music teachers don't have time to do 
all the
things that you need to do to become a competent jazz player.  If they 
are a
competent musician they don't have the time to play and advance 
with after school football, basketball and other activities.

Typically high school band directors are not educated in jazz but in a
pseudo jazz that says that if you know the structure and you know the 
and you know something about progressions you are a jazzer.  In other 
go buy a book, take a class and you can do it.  That is an auto 
approach to music.  While there isn't anything wrong with knowing how 
car works and it's helpful to know how to fix a car but it won't teach 
how to drive.  You can graduate from college with a degree in music
education having never had even a single class in jazz or jazz studies 
played jazz.

The average high school band director can't play a horn to the level of
being a professional musician.  That's not to say that coming right out 
college that they can't play but wait 10 or 20 years and see if that 
true.  I work with two great guys who are very good teachers but they 
play jazz.  However one does play semi pro percussion and Tympani but 
other never plays.  I also associate with two other recent graduates 
play exceptionally well and are of Symphony quality.  They just aren't
jazzers.  I think the colleges here are doing a good job turning out
traditional classic musicians of a high quality.

There are exceptions of course,  I believe that Steve Lilly of the St. 
Stompers is a retired history teacher.  Too bad he didn't teach music 
but on
the other hand maybe that's a good thing.

I of course deplore the status of jazz at the High School level but 
it's not
really the teacher's fault.  It's almost impossible to be more than a 
musician and be a good Band Director too.

Personally I always thought that I had to be a competent player.  Who 
take typing from a person who couldn't type or driving from a non 
St. Louis

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike" <mike at railroadstjazzwest.com>
To: <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Saturday, January 20, 2007 12:27 AM
Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] IAJE - TJEN - Some thoughts.

> Yup.
> You hit the nail on the head Harry. When I was in High School
> back in the 80s we read charts twice a week for about an hour at
> a time. No improv was ever taught. Explanation of the chord
> changes was to "play the scales".
> No one ever taught us about listening to recordings and finding
> out what the pros did. I started buying my own recordings in
> high school. I bought about one CD a month(minimum) and have
> continued that practice to this day.
> As far as arrangements goes, I'd personally like to see much
> more ear training utilized. Especially at the lower grade
> levels. It would also help if the teacher knew about jazz
> improvization. My former teachers did not.
> Mike
> hsalotti at aol.com wrote:
>>  I agree with Steve's comments.
>>  I would like to comment on some relevant observations. Most public
>> schools music teachers have a limited background in jazz. If they 
>> any experience it is probably from playing in a big band at some 
point in
>> their music career. In most high school big bands you might find 
only one
>> or two members of each section that have the ability to improve and 
>> by ear. (there are many players who can play over chord changes but 
>> play melodies by ear.) Most players first learned to read and play
>> concert band music in public school and then were taught by their 
>> school band director how to read the swing rhythms. The shame is 
>> many of these students were taught by rote and not exposed to 
>> of bands like Basie, Ellington and Goodman. This resulted in 
hundreds of
>> high school bands where you had over sixteen students in each band 
>> maybe only four students in the group could improvise over a simple 
>> or rhythm changes. Very few of the improvisers were eve
> r taught how to play an actual melody. Many band directors started 
> rock based charts so the students wouldn't have to learn to 
swing.(many of
> the open solo sections are based on one to two modal scales, not any 
> chord progression.) You can find big band arrangements now that are
> written quite skillfully for junior high bands where the range and 
> level of the individual parts are appropriate to the grade level. 
> charts require no improvising or a solo is written out.
>>  The problem as it relates to OKOM is that:
>>  1.Most directors teach jazz from a reading music approach. Trad is 
>> on improvisation and playing by ear.
>>  2. Directors are expected to include large groups of students in 
>> ensembles. Trad bands contain six or seven players at most.
>>  3.Directors have a limited amount of rehearsal time for their jazz
>> program, mostly one day after school or one night a week. It is 
>> and quicker to teach a group of fifteen students to read an easy
>> arrangement of Watermelon Man than it is to teach six students The
>> Original Dixieland One Step by ear. God forbid your trumpet player 
>> sick on the night of the concert.
>>  4. The priorities of most school boards and parents are marching 
>> concert band and large amounts of students in the program.
>>     If your want directors to start introducing trad jazz into their
>> programs they need:
>>  1.Arrangements that include more than just one trumpet, clarinet 
>> trombone. An arrangement could be based on the street bands of New
>> Orleans such as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The best setting for 
>> arrangements is for a smaller section of the marching band to play 
>> in the stands at the football games. Riff based arrangements that 
>> two or three trumpets parts,clarinet,alto,tenor,and bari sax (bari 
>> be used as a bass instrument ie. Adrian Rollini) trombone, tuba and
>> snare, cymbals and bass drum. Since the music would be used as part 
>> the marching band program, directors could justify using more 
>> time to teach this style of music. Songs with simple three chord
>> progressions could be used at first (yes, I mean The Saints Go 
>> In) to teach basic improvisation by altering the melody(all 
>> should learn to play the melody). A simple riff by alternating horn
>> sections could supply the background for the soloist. This ensemble 
> d be brought inside after football session and developed into a great
> group. Possibly even broken into smaller groups based on ability 
>>  If you really want to do something to help this music survive, sit 
>> and write a simple arrangement and GIVE it to the high school band
>> director in your home town.
>>  If you give the directors the tools to teach this music we have a 
>> of preserving this style of jazz into the future and not only for 
our own
>> lifetime. Harry Salotti
> _______________________________________________
> Dixielandjazz mailing list
> Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com
> http://ml.islandnet.com/mailman/listinfo/dixielandjazz

Dixielandjazz mailing list
Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com

Check out the new AOL.  Most comprehensive set of free safety and 
security tools, free access to millions of high-quality videos from 
across the web, free AOL Mail and more.

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list