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LETTER TO PARTICIPATING TEACHERS

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					LETTER TO PARTICIPATING TEACHERS-SIENA-2007 I welcome all of you attending our 17th Annual Jazz Meeting taking place in the beautiful and historic city of Siena, Italy. Those of you who are new to our meetings from schools which have sent teachers in the past might want to ask them about the atmosphere and activities of the week to get a flavor of what we do. Our schedule basically consists of ensembles, lectures, master classes and jam sessions, all of which I will outline below. As the centerpiece of the meeting, the students will conclude the week with their ensemble presentations. I urge you to make sure that both you and the students coming from your school have read my enclosed letter addressed to them (Letter to Participating Students) which clearly describes our activities for the week. Please note that there is a list of suggested tunes which we have compiled that would be good for them to know for jam sessions as well as the open ensemble “jam” audition which occurs the first day which enables us to place the students in the proper group. In forming the ensembles, I try for geographical diversity as well as evenness of levels. From our past experiences, the level is usually quite uniform and fairly high with some exceptions. I have asked your administrators (or you as the case may be) to send their best students, so that we do not have to spend time on basics. Although this is not a typical “hands on” type of clinic situation (and there is no salary as such), I hope that you will underscore to your participating students that this is not a paid vacation for them. They have to take part with energy and commitment. Most of all they should exhibit a positive and generous attitude towards each other-this is the most important aspect for me personally. For example, during the week I will continually stress that being punctual is a sign of respect for each other, as well as more obvious aspects of behavior such as applauding other student’s solos, etc. These meetings are in a certain sense grand experiments in human relations with the music as a kind of background to the human interaction taking place among such a variety of young people. I am sure you understand what I mean. After all, we have participants from approximately twenty countries attending, a true United Nations of Jazz. ENSEMBLES Because we emphasize face to face personal contact, the number of students is relatively small. Six combos, with a maximum of eight members is our limit so that at the final concert, each group has a real bona fide set to work on all week (three groups each of the two final nights-about 50 minutes each.) Therefore I have found that more than two teachers per group can be distracting so we usually have a situation where there are more teachers attending the meeting than ensembles numbers allow for. Until I see the teachers actually present, I cannot make a decision as to who will get an ensemble. Usually I pair a teacher who has had a group in the past with a new one, so if you don’t get an ensemble I hope you will understand. When we have extra teachers we deal with it the best we can with other activities, including the fascinating “ongoing dialogues” described below. In

any case everyone is free to walk around and observe classes as they wish at all times. Basically, you are on a vacation more than working per se, which should be quite pleasant. Although the emphasis is upon student to student interaction and the positive results accrued from that process, you too will gain from meeting colleagues from all over the world doing what you do. I should add that performing and teaching opportunities have arisen for many teacher participants as well as the students. With that said and not knowing whether you will get an ensemble, nonetheless allow me to describe the small group situation. It would be helpful if you are equipped to quickly organize a few charts to break the ice if necessary with your ensemble-even standards are fine, though I do stress original compositions. By the way the students have at times chosen one of their teacher’s compositions to perform at the final concert. The instrumentation is usually a few horns with full rhythm section and maybe a vocalist or miscellaneous instrument (accordion, violin, vibes, etc.). I will be repeating all week to ensemble coaches that the goal is to let the students get things together themselves while your job is much like a record producer (the good kind I hope!!). That is to bring out the creativity and teamwork potential of the group-to smooth out any personality or musical problems and the like. You may even have language difficulties within the group to work out. There are no rewards for the “best combo.” This is not like the ordinary school year as far as your pedagogical responsibilities are concerned. In fact, by the middle of the week, you will hopefully not really be needed except to specific performance aspects for the final ensemble concert (everyone gets a solo, tunes are varied, the order of the solos and songs, etc.). A “hands off” approach has worked well in the past and those who have attended will tell you that no matter what year they have attended an IASJ Meeting, the final concerts are always incredible. MISCELLANEOUS ACTIVITIES MASTER CLASS: It is in the master class on each instrument where I would like all the attending teachers to participate concerning topics of technique, sound production, etc. I encourage the teachers of each instrument to get together the first day, maybe at lunch, to decide upon a master class schedule. There are only a few during the week, so it is nice if they are presented with some forethought. What works well is that for each session, a different teacher(s) presents a topic pertaining to the instrument. If you bring some practice materials, transcriptions, etc., this would be great. There are copying facilities available of course. TEACHER’S CONCERT: We will have an informal teacher’s concert at the beginning of the week so the students are aware of the high level of playing that you are all capable of. I organize this the first day and consequently it is very loose. This usually makes quite an impression upon everyone and raises the “respect quotient” for the rest of the week as far as the students’ attitude towards the teachers. ONGOING DIALOGUES: For teachers and administrators there are several meetings concerning pedagogical topics and the like between all interested participants which we call “Ongoing Dialogues.” Walter Turkenburg, who is the Executive Director of the IASJ, moderates these discussions which are always interesting, because it is an

opportunity to hear viewpoints and methods from so many different cultural and administrative standpoints. LECTURES: Another activity is the lecture. It is a chance for teachers to make a presentation of something they are enthusiastic about, rather than the required academic fare of the normal teaching syllabus. I have limited space for lectures so you MUST CONTACT ME by e mail within the next few weeks if you are interested with the chosen topic. I have attached a separate page to this letter concerning lectures. If you are interested, please refer to it. JAM SESSIONS: Of course there will be several evenings of jam sessions in the beautiful and historic “contradas” of Siena with some of the best food you will ever taste!! This is where the students really get to know each other and interact. I encourage teachers to take part, of course always respecting that it is the students who are the stars of night, so to say. Finally, there is of course some free time built into the schedule, but again as I said, even if you have an ensemble you have many hours off during the days. Again, please make sure that you read the Letter to Participating Students and help them with the English if necessary. In fact, it is probably best to make some copies of that letter and give it to them when you meet to travel to Siena or arrive at least. Obviously you are responsible for your school’s students, their well being and behavior, as well as encouraging them during the week to take part in the kind of spirit I describe in the opening of my letter to them. I wish you a safe trip and look forward to meeting you on Sunday, July 8th, if not the night before for a special performance I will be giving in one of the piazzas with a wonderful group of Italian musicians. Be safe in your travels. Peace

David Liebman Artistic Director and Founder E mail:lieb@ptd.net

P.S. Please go to my web site and look at the entry marked IASJ for background and history of the organization. www.upbeat.com/lieb


				
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