You are what you hear…

I’m teaching a very talented and hard working young woman of early high school age. We’re spending the summer working on jazz drum set, since there are no auditions, band concerts, or other required musical activities that need attention. One of the first things we will be doing is listening to music. Much of my earliest playing experience was with a commercial quartet that played standards at various private parties, weddings, dance clubs, etc. This was during the late 1960’s an early 1970’s, when people of a certain age still listened and danced to “swing” or “standards”.

I usually need to make a list of jazz CD’s to acquaint young students with the sound and feel of jazz, since they don’t listen to it on their computers or mp3 players. Outlets such as radio or television seldom have jazz in play, for all kinds of reasons. There are school jazz ensembles, competitions and the like, but there are not so many places where a high school age person can hear the music regularly outside of the academic environment, something that I regret, as do many jazz musicians and educators who are well known in both jazz and popular music circles. All the technique in the world will not help if you have no understanding of the sound, and more importantly, the feel of the music.

We often forget that a lot of the earliest “Rock” drummers on recordings were gifted jazz drummers who made a living in the studio. It pays to listen to all sorts of music, particularly if you aren’t surrounded by it every day….

Happy 4th of July, and keep drumming!

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