he GSCC Show Band

teach you how to truly listen? Generally speaking, most people listen to music from a whole perspective vantage point. By taking more of a participatory approach, a concept called “active listening”, you can listen to music in layers. This concept can be applied to any style of music and is extremely important in the development of any musician. Have you ever listened to a recording specifically for rhythm? How about focusing on nothing but the bass? Listen to a recording and try bringing an instrument to the “front” of the conversation. Everyone has this skill! Think about eavesdropping…have you ever been in a conversation with friends and then heard someone across the room talking about you? You can eavesdrop and still be courteous to the conversation before you. You can do the same thing with music. Tune out the melody and listen to the accompaniment. Switch the focus the next time you listen. This skill can used in ANY genre of music!

Role Models – If we were going to take a trip somewhere, we would probably plug our destination into our GPS or ask our phone for directions. I give workshops all over the country and constantly ask students, “Who is your hero on your instrument”? There are exceptions, but several don’t have a name to suggest and if they do, they can’t name a specific song or

ala breve

recording of the artist. This is like getting in your car and just driving with no destination in mind! Sometimes it’s cool to just go for a drive, but with the rising price in gas you might want to eventually have a destination in mind! The same holds true for ourselves and our students. How can we expect our students or ensembles to perform at a high level without having a role model in mind? Have you ever heard, “You are what you eat”? Well, “You are what you listen to”! Teachers and students should constantly saturate the ear with professional examples. If you don’t sight read on a regular basis, the skill can be hindered. If we don’t listen to high quality music often, our levels of expectation decrease. If our students have role models on their instruments, they have a destination in mind. If anyone wants to dig deeper, start transcribing! This is one of the fastest ways to improve as a musician. Why don’t we do it? Because it is hard! Stay engaged, encourage your students to listen, and force yourself to listen to high quality music while in your office or driving home. Carve out the time for success!

Inspire - You can put a New Orleans brass band anywhere in the world and people will dance. You can play a recording of Louis Armstrong and almost anyone in the world will recognize his sound. That’s profound and stands the test of time. This music has evolved and continues to move forward. I’ve played recordings of the late Roy Hargrove performing “Strasbourg St. Denis” and I’d be so bold to say almost 100% of listeners love the tune. Jazz has something for everyone. A good majority

of Americans don’t even know what jazz is. I have been playing a jam session in Downtown Gadsden the third Tuesday of every month for over 4 years and it has become a popular event for the community. I started the November GSCC Jazz Festival two years ago and have brought in several internationally renowned artists including Delfeayo Marsalis, Jason Marsalis, Jeffery Miller, Bria Skonberg, Adam Rapa, and several others. This year, we will celebrate “Women in Jazz”. It is inspiring to see culture changing! Pick up your own instrument and shed! If we can “walk the walk, we can talk the talk”! Modeling and inspiring students through our own performance holds a lot of weight. As we inspire our students to become better musicians, the quality of our ensemble performance improves. This can cross over into any style we aspire to perform!

Yes, jazz is alive and well! I just returned from the 2019 JEN Conference in Reno and it was inspiring to see so many performances, jam sessions, lectures, and hangs. There were people from all backgrounds and ages. If you haven’t attended a Jazz Education Network Conference, make plans to attend the 2020 JEN Conference in New Orleans, January 8-11th! I am currently the Alabama JEN Unit President and I will be announcing some exciting new initiatives for our local area. Thanks to everyone for supporting jazz education and performance.In the spirit of swing,

Dr. Matt Leder

GSCC Showband Trombone Section 35

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