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Jazz Education Network News for Illinois Teachers

Here’s hoping you had a summer of relaxation and doing what you want so you are refueled and raring to go this fall! For me, the secret to being creative and at my best is always getting much needed rest. Tis seems to fuel me so I can be reflective and inspired easily.

When thinking about nurturing creativity in the musician here is what some of the jazz pros said in simple terms:

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.

Charles Mingus I never sing a song the same way twice. Billie Holiday Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there. Miles Davis

Life is not about finding our limitations; it’s about finding our infinity. Herbie Hancock

In the jazz world, we minimize the rules and maximize freedom, thus allowing for creativity of the individual. We are “innovators” and isn’t that what the world needs now? Creative problem solvers to solve the many dilemmas of our budget, ecological, economical, social problems? As teachers we know that very few of our students will go into the field as professionals but we rest well knowing that the creative experiences and learning that takes place in jazz ensembles will serve them well in the future.

Innovate–n. To begin or introduce something new; be creative (American Heritage Dictionary) Te jazz world is a model of innova- tion and creativity. Utilizing this definition above, jazz musicians have a long history of introducing new concepts of form, technique, style. Tey have found new ways to play their instruments and establish their individual identities. Tis is what JAZZ can do for your students, we must teach them their legacy, and it is our responsibility as music teachers to do so.

As Jeff Perry (2004) says in his article “Jazz & Innovation: How the Jazz culture fosters creativity” from

Te very cornerstone of the music ‘ improvisation ‘ demands sponta- neous creativity or ‘instant innovation’ from every jazz player ev- ery time they perform. Over the past hundred years, jazz musicians have been striving to ‘get different.’ Te culture has them continu- ously seeking answers to questions such as: ‘How can I come up with something that is different from what everyone else is doing?’

Jazz players have had an unstoppable drive to find ways to innovate and they have time and time again succeeded. What has allowed for this success? In large part the music’s innovative engine is driven by its culture of Individualism. Te improvisatory and individualistic nature of jazz asks its practitioners to find ways to differentiate themselves from their peers to attain a unique, recognizable sound. Further, improvisation asks its artists to differentiate themselves from themselves–to sound fresh and different every time they perform. Both of these challenges involve an ongoing quest to find greater resources (internal and external) for expression.

Jazz is also adept at combining freedom and form. Jazz allows for maximum personal interpretation however it does have form, rules if you will. Except in extreme forms, players operate within guidelines.

Songs have themes, structured forms, and harmonic frameworks. However, these themes, forms, and frameworks are pliable in jazz and allow individuals to operate with freedom paralleled in no other music. To contrast, European musical tradition requires musicians follow the instruction of the composer every note, the length of the note, even the volume of the note is dictated. Tere is no room for personal interpretation. It’s quite the opposite in jazz.

Teachers that want to inspire creativity and innovation may wish to look to the jazz model for ideas especially because it has proven itself for so long. By allowing freedom, balanced by rules, guidelines and values, CREATIVITY is possible for you/your students to attain. By encouraging creativity and improvisation you and your students may find its ‘unique sound’ and with it new solutions to personal and global dilemmas. Haven’t done jazz before . . . that’s okay . . . learn with the kids! Tere have never been more resources available. In fact, even better, come to experience JAZZ at all levels at our upcoming conference!

Watch for fall issue of our JAZZed magazine for a more complete listing of headliners at the 3rd Annual Jazz Education Network Conference to be held at the beautiful Galt House Hotel in Louis- ville, KY January 4-7, 2012! Featured artists will include:

Victor Wooten, Terrell Stafford, Ellen Rowe with Ingrid Jensen, Jazz Ambassadors of the U.S. Army Field Band, TRPTS with Mike Vax, Peter Eldridge, Shelly Berg, Rosanna Eckert, Larry Ridley, Brubeck Institute Combo, Dave Stryker, Columbus Jazz Arts Orchestra with Byron Strypling, and many others! Illinois artists include: Bob Lark and his Alumni Big Band, Kahil El’zabar and the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, Millikin University’s One Voice, DePaul’s Phil Woods Ensemble, and others. New to our conference this year is a Festival Clinic Room for festival style adjudication for up to 15 ensembles, first come-first served. Details to be released online soon.

We have an exciting lineup followed by the now-famed JEN

Network Hang in the Conservatory area of the hotel. For those that prefer more formal late night concert’s we have added an 11:30 pm concert by some outstanding pro groups for your enjoyment, along with the student jam sessions beginning on Tursday night. Tis year’s event features over 90 concerts on five stages, 60 clinics in four rooms, PLUS . . . A dedicated technology track offering 40+ clinics and workshops in partnership with the 2012 TI:ME (Technology Institute for Music Educators) Conference! New this year is the inaugural presentation of the Class of 2012 LeJENds of Jazz Education!

Come join us as we honor the ABCD’s of jazz education: Jamey Aebersold, David Baker, Jerry Coker, and Dan Haerle at the JEN Gala Education Fundraiser! A dedicated Research track in partner- ship with the Jazz Arts Group of Columbus/Jazz Audience Initia- tive study will be unveiled as we focus on our theme “Developing Tomorrow’s Jazz Audiences Today.”

Check our improved and updated website regularly and I invite you to become a part of the JEN family today! Hope to see you in Peoria and Louisville!

Mary Jo Papich, Co-Founder, Past President Jazz Education Network Interim Fine Arts Director Niles North and West High Schools-Skokie

Fall 2011 | 81

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