David Liebman and Teaching Jazz

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There is a furor about jazz education and the recent popularity of the movie “Whiplash”. Here is Dave Liebman’s thoughtful response:Liebman

I have always contended that the top priority for a teacher is to concentrate on “learning how to learn.” By that I mean that when a student receives information, (s)he has also been guided towards how to leave the classroom and reinforce, or in our case “practice” that information, with the eventual leading being total absorption and hopefully with time, personalization. My mantra in this regard is: “If you know how to learn, you are set for the rest of your life,” no matter what area of work one pursues. If a teacher does not offer that information, then the education has been incomplete. Especially when teaching an art form where information is not for the most part easily learned overnight as compared to law, history, engineering, computers, etc., this aspect of teaching the how to reinforce new material and make it useful is even more crucial.

When I started teaching in the ‘70s (thanks to Jamey Aebersold inviting me to do a workshop), the mantra concerning jazz education was that “it can’t be taught.” Our musical elders by and large did not readily share info (with exceptions……(Dizzy Gillespie for example), out of reluctance, non-verbal skills or just keeping things secret (another discussion). On the other hand they did have nightly “learning” sessions working as much as they did. But when I saw the great Freddie Hubbard do a class at a small college in my hometown in Pennsylvania I knew that jazz education had arrived.

Can an art form be taught? Can creativity be taught? Does one “have it or not?” My contention is that the tools can be taught along with as described above, the means of reinforcing the information. Furthermore and especially in teaching an art form, there is the joy of of sharing curiosity. What makes this music or any art form sound or look like it does? No matter whether it is painting, theater, dance, etc., the curiosity factor has to be there in good education.

My first comment when at fifteen years old I saw Coltrane live at Birdland was: “How can that be the same instrument that I have home under my bed in Brooklyn? How can he do THAT ON THAT INSTRUMENT? How does it all work and what can one do to get that information.” This is where the inspirational aspect of pedagogy is essential. When done correctly, we as teachers should be following something like this:

PARADIGM:
-PRESENTATION OF INFORMATION (TEACHER RESPONSIBILITY)

-MEANS OF REINFORCING/LEARNING/PRACTICING INFO (TEACHER RESPONSIBILITY

-AWAKENING CURIOUSITY , INSPIRING THE THIRST TO UNDERSTAND THE MATERIAL (TEACHER/STUDENT)

-ABSORPTION AND PERSONALIZATION OF MATERIAL (STUDENT).

The next stage is “mentoring”…..yet another aspect of the pedagogical process.

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Full Circle – 100 Years of the Paramount

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Paramount-Theatre2

I was interviewed for an upcoming book about the Paramount Theatre’s 100 year anniversary. My father (yes! my father!) was born in 1889, and was musical director at the Paramount a century ago, 40 years before I was born.

CarlHehmsoth

Carl Hehmsoth

I have been a performer, arranger, and frequent guest at the Paramount since my college days. I saw Miles Davis there!
I was interviewed by Terri Schexnayder, who will author the 100 year anniversary history of the Paramount. We chatted about the following:
My dad was musical director, orchestra conductor, and principal violinist for silent movies and vaudeville at the Paramount (then called the Majestic) during its first years in existence. He contributed to the entertainment and  culture of early Austin.
As his son, and performing artist/composer at the Paramount I have been arranger for the 2000 production of Jesus Christ Superstar, the broadway shows Nunsense 1 & 2 with Joe Ann Worley, and “Together Again”  Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. Just last year, I was principal pianist for Philip Glass’ “Icarus At The Edge Of Time” 33 piece orchestra w film. Notably, I performed in live orchestra performances of original scores to famous silent movies, with Gilian Anderson (not X-Files!) Wings, Birth Of A Nation, Nosferatu, and Robin Hood. These historic and great early movies were shown at the same time my father was conductor, and in the same Paramount Theatre I am performing nearly 100 years later!

Paramount Theatre holds amazing memories for me, and I am honored to be part of their rich history in Austin culture. I contributed the following to the book:

FULL CIRCLE
Every time I come to the Paramount, to attend an event, or working as a music professional, I feel a connection with the past, with my dad a hundred years ago, with Austin in its early days, and with all the great artistic endeavors and creativity that have been presented here. There is a spiritual delight and pleasure here. I feel it every time. It’s in every seat in the house!
I see my father here, 100 years ago, rehearsing the orchestra, walking backstage and downstairs to the green room, or under the bright lights onstage during showtime. He is conducting, performing, laughing, and living here, bringing music to life, 35 years before I was even born.
I hope when I perform at the Paramount, I connect today’s audiences with different times in Austin’s culture, in the way that only music does, bringing the old to new generations of ears…. FULL CIRCLE.

HankatWatsonHouse

Hank Hehmsoth

Hank Hehmsoth

P.S.
I especially want to thank my friend, John Bernardoni, the Co-Founder that conceived the restoration and rejBernadoniuvenation of the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas – a Texas Landmark and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, and who served as director from 1975 to 1985. I played at his wedding! John loves jazz, and came out often to hear me at Sullivan’s.
Read about his early struggles to save the Paramount:
Dave Brubeck and Sons – Inaugural Show – February 1975 – Paramount Theatre – Austin
I went to this show!

This is a letter to my father, thanking him for his contributions to the culture and entertainment in Austin, from Majestic Theatre (now the Paramount) Executive Director Faulkner.

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Rockefeller Bellagio Project – Composer & Organizer

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My Project at the Rockefeller Bellagio Center will spread international goodwill and creativity worldwide, emphasizing the global and cross-cultural impact of the arts, especially music. The Project will harness, enlist, and elevate global creativity as a bond across nations and cultures. As an avid proponent for global communication through the arts, my Project is twofold.bellagioview

First, as a Senior Fulbright Specialist, and speaker at international forums presenting American Studies in Music, I will seek and obtain endorsements via Fulbright alumni and colleagues. As Director of my nonprofit H Project Performing Arts Association, I will obtain funding and connections through its website. I will organize this influential group of artists to impact and solve language barriers across nations and cultures, influence critical global problems, and promote the harmony of nations through musical performance. The team members will be developed from my network of Academic Artists from all over the world who meet in Athens at the ATINER Annual International Conference on Visual and Performing Arts. This is a great opportunity to meet and share with artists on a global level at the very birthplace of freedom and democracy. As a featured performer and educator/recruiter at the JEN Jazz Educators Network International Convention,  I will acquire artistic support from international jazz educators to benefit the Project.

Second, the Project will produce concert performances internationally to share the music cultures of people across the globe. Nothing more nourishes the roots of all world cultures than art. The Project goal of joining forces in arts communication worldwide is enthusiastically endorsed by George Abufhele B., Rector, Instituto Profesional Projazz, Santiago, Chile. Affiliates include Antonio Campaña, executive director Fulbright Chile, and Larry Corwin, Public Affairs Officer, United States Embassy in Chile‘s Chargé D´Affairs. A partnership between my Texas State University School of Music and Instituto Profesional Projazz to create institutional linkages and faculty led programs and performances will share the music cultures of South and North America. As the MacDowell Colony Norton Stevens Fellow in Composition, I will actively pursue MacDowell fellows to contribute new music to the Project. Personally, I have been composing music to create a new, signature American sound, from a synthesis of contemporary art music, jazz, and world music. A global approach and unique blend of influences gives my music a brand, its own distinctive place in the international scene. I wish to focus my music on programming directly related to my Bellagio Project. My recent compositions are based on Native American and South American folk music. My orchestral piece Puerta de la Luna – “Door to the Moon” will be in the final phase of work and completion while at the Bellagio Center. Plans are for a performance in 2016 or 2017.

I want to especially thank three individuals who have made the Project possible:

Cheryl Young, Executive Director
The Macdowell Artist Colony

Dr. George Abufhele B., Rector
Instituto Profesional Projazz

Dr. Major Leonel Peña, Commander & Director
U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Band

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ASCAP PLUS award 11-14-2014

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a pleasant surprise. I don’t even remember applying… :)
awarded to writer members whose catalogs have prestige value.

ASCAP_Award

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Musician’s Forum with Dr Thomas Clark

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Graduate Jazz Piano Techniques class 2014

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with Jerry Espinoza, Sam Thrasher, Ben Triesch, Brian Christensen, Nicholas Tozzo, Bjorn Johnson and Miguel Angel Aguiar.

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The Role Of College Teaching In The Life of A Creative Musician

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Trainer/Clinician for the Army – School of Music & Air Force Band

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a week presenting and performing w professional Army and Air Force career musicians as a trainer/clinician, sponsored by the Dept. of Defense – DOD

My ex-student, Major Leonel Peña, Commander & Conductor of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Band and TxState alumnus, presents me with an award certificate.

LeoPena+Hank

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I’m in the Army now

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Well, for a week. I was guest clinician/trainer at Fort Eustis, Virginia with the US Army School of Music, & the US Air Force band attending. I worked with adult professional career musicians on:

Secrets of Success
Innovative Practice Techniques

Contemporary creativity
Maximizing individual potential
Global/Cross-cultural impact of music

I met 2 star general, Major General Mark MacCarley, Deputy Chief of Staff, and discussed plans to use the arts, especially music, as a bridge between cultures, and a way to spread freedom and creativity around the world, while spreading American goodwill. MacCarley is an advisor to the President’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, who directly advise the Secretary of Defense, the Homeland Security Council, the National Security Council and the President of the United States on military matters.


from L to R:
Sergeant Major Robert L. Burford Sr., me, Major General Mark J. MacCarley, and Major Leonel Peña, Commander & Conductor of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Band.
The certificate reads: “For your generous contributions to the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command Band at Ft. Eustis, VA. Your talents and commitment have helped the TRADOC Band maintain its reputation of professionalism, excellence, and distinction. Your dedication and patriotism are in keeping with the highest traditions of service and represents great credit upon you and Texas State University – San Marcos.”

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@JazzEdNet convention Jan 6, 2015 with the premiere tentet TimesTen from Austin WOW!

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