[Dixielandjazz] Larry's remark about Jim's remark about Beth'sremark.....

Larry Walton Entertainment - St. Louis larrys.bands at charter.net
Sun May 30 01:56:53 PDT 2010

Sometimes it doesn't happen.  There is another young guy about 16 who practices like mad, reads very well and is very good at improv.  His teacher is a prominent player here and is a zillion note guy.  Naturally the kid tries to do what his teacher does and he's not bad at it at all.  

A couple of us old guys have started coaching him.  I played with his grandfather on gigs in the 60's and his dad for the past 15 years.  He soaks everything up like a sponge.  One trouble is that one of the guys hasn't a clue about a lot of things and we have to sort of re write over what he has been told.  It isn't often that a young kid listens to what you say and tries things to see how they fit.  He is now playing regularly with two of the big bands because we spread his name around as a player.  He is now playing with real style and understands the difference between various styles and time periods of jazz.

Last week my friend Herb, told me. with some excitement, that the kid played the tenor solo in "In The Mood" not only correctly but improved on it.

Last year I coached him on the music for the district honor concert band and he made it.   This year he got a chair in the state Jazz band.

This particular kid makes his own complements and politely says thanks if someone complements him.  He has the sense to know when he played well or not and this isn't damaging him at all because he looks to that inner sense of self worth.

The young lady I was talking about will become a fine legit player but no matter how much her dad wants her to be a jazzer it just won't happen and fawning over her will just lead her down a path.
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: W1AB at aol.com 
  To: larrys.bands at charter.net 
  Sent: Saturday, May 29, 2010 10:57 PM
  Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Larry's remark about Jim's remark about Beth'sremark.....

  Hi, Larry,

      I've seen the same thing you describe -- young players who get higher praise than they have earned.  That hurts the young player, and doesn't help anyone involved.

      It would be better to say something like, "You have good basic technique, but you need to learn how to improvise.  When you get a way down that road, you can become a good jazz player."

      A lot of the youth bands and musicians in those bands get far more praise than they deserve.  I played alongside a young trombone player at a large jazz festival's jam session.  He had the right moves and he played lots of notes.  He had no idea of chord structure, so many of the notes he played were dissonant.  Yet, because he looked good and moved his slide a lot, he got big applause.  Not good.

      I know one youth band in a major metropolitan area that was being funded generously by a well-off local jazz fan.  He paid for taxis to take them to and from rehearsals, paid them a stipend for each rehearsal or gig, etc.  None of the musicians in the band "had it."  They read charts well, but with no feeling of the spirit of the music.  However, they went to quite a few festivals and got big applause.  Not good.

      I am rambling on too much....

                                                      So long,      Al

  In a message dated 5/29/2010 6:54:49 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, larrys.bands at charter.net writes:
    We tried a young lady in her teens who plays trumpet with great range and 
    technique.  Her dad is an accomplished sax player with a couple of big bands 
    here in StL.  They showed up for rehearsals and played the music.  BTW this 
    young lady was also asked to play with another band I work with.

    This went on for about six rehearsals in both bands.  While highly talented 
    her improv was very mechanical and wooden.  Two members of the band asked me 
    privately to not ask her back.

    Her dad wants very badly that she should be  a jazzer but while she has all 
    the equipment she has zero talent for it.  That's sad because she thinks she 
    is really swinging.  This is because everyone tells her that.  I think 
    endless complements are detrimental to young musicians.

    Pros don't gush all over other pros.  Playing well is a given but the 
    amateur groups just can't wait to lay on the complements no matter what is 

    I think it can ruin a good young musician if he thinks he's on top.  The 
    other side is if you give any criticism at all they don't believe you 
    because after all everyone else tells them how great they are.

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