[Dixielandjazz] Music Teachers was IAJE and TJEN

Steve Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sun Jan 21 08:40:42 PST 2007

Perhaps we shouldn't tar ALL music teachers with the same brush?

There are many wonderful, competent and dedicated music teachers out there
in the schools. From elementary to post graduate college level. That many
may not teach trad jazz is quite understandable. They came a generation
after the cartoon music that us old folks were weaned on from a very early
age. We may deny it all we want, but cartoon music is what got most of us
hooked on trad jazz . . . NOT MUSIC TEACHERS, or MUSIC APPRECIATION
MCOURSES. Nor did most of us suddenly become born again to the appreciation
of OKOM as a wondrous musical form. Most of us over 65 in the USA were
indelibly imprinted with cartoon music without our even realizing it.

I don't know about others, but my own experiences in schools were limited to
MUSIC APPRECIATION in grammar school, and BAND/ORCHESTRA in High School.
There was NO JAZZ EDUCATION. Think of all those Genius OKOM players from
1900 to 1960. They did not learn jazz in school. Far from it. They overcame
the negative bias of schools against jazz.

Here in Philadelphia, there are some monster jazz teachers in the School
Systems. With teachers that know damn well how to play and teach jazz.
Locally, West Chester University (A State School) has a terrific jazz
program and graduates competent jazz players. Not of OKOM, but so what? They
play great jazz. I use some of them as subs and they easily adapt.

At the upper levels, Juilliard and Berklee (and others) here in the Eastern
USA have wonderful jazz and/or music programs. And some damn fine teachers
and artists in residence. Perhaps not OKOM, but so what?

With rare exception, there is no professional OKOM music scene to speak of,
here in the USA. So why should we expect the schools and/or the teachers to
teach it? May as well teach Gregorian Chants and then bitch that nobody is
paying any attention to Chant vocals.

You don't have to know all about OKOM in the detail that some of us do, in
order to be a proficient jazz musician. Any more than one would have to know
Ragtime in the detail that Butch Thompson does, in order to play Dixieland.

Start at the beginning of jazz we say? Shoot, then we better go back to
Brahams to understand American Songbook and Bach and Buxtehude in order to
understand improvisation.

Just how much knowledge can one cram into ones head? How much is necessary
and how much is trivia?

Want to make OKOM more popular? We aren't going to do it by teaching it, or
by otherwise cramming it down someone's throat.

I've posted about "how" for years, so no need to repeat it. The other way to
imprint the kids is to bring back cartoons and cartoon music.

Give the teachers a break . . . it isn't their fault. Plus jazz would be a
hell of a lot worse off without them.

Steve Barbone

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list