There was a whole lot of toe-tapping, bippity bopping, swinging and swaying, musical stretching, and growing last week at the 4th Annual JEN Conference of the Jazz Education Network! I had the privilege of attending and couldn’t wait to share some of the nuggets I picked up from the conference with the Kids and Keys readers.
In case you are unfamiliar with the Jazz Education Network or JEN, it is an organization dedicated to
building the jazz arts community by advancing education, promoting performance, and developing new audiences.
During the conference I was able to attend several workshops that were not specifically geared to piano teaching. I found that it was VERY helpful to listen to what presenters who play saxophone, trombone, and strings had to say about music education. There were several statements that I will be applying to piano teaching and using with my students even for non-jazz repertoire. Some of the most helpful are:
1. Students want to sound good – This is not always obvious to us as teachers, but is certainly important for us to remember! Just think how much more committed students are when they know they sound good! Let’s teach them music that they like and sound good playing. Better yet, let’s give them music that their friends and families think they sound good playing!
2. Practice is Preparation For The Unexpected – Let’s prepare students for performances so that once they are on stage they won’t have to make music happen, they can be free to let music happen!
3. Challenge students to have more than just nice performances! – Nothing should be nice, it has to be entertaining!
4. Not rushing is a discipline of the mind – In jazz, the power comes from grooving and playing behind the beat, but the discipline of not rushing is something that EVERY musician must have!
5. Students have to be taught how to listen with music ears – They don’t usually come to us with music ears. It is up to us to help them improve their hearing – without surgery!
Stay tuned tomorrow for more from the JEN Conference. I will be blogging about the session on teaching jazz to young children. In the meantime, visit Jazz Education Network’s website at www.jazzednet.org to learn more about the organization and how you can get involved!