[JPL] Responce to Eric Hines re: Consider the Ironies

Bob Rogers rwsfin at hotmail.com
Thu Oct 5 05:26:26 EDT 2006


Eric,

Apparently your experience of young musicians is radically different from 
mine.  Or maybe you're talking about some students in high school jazz 
programs.  The students I was referring to in my post are those who would be 
in close proximity to anyone attending the IAJE, e.g., students at Berklee, 
NEC, Julliard, Rutgers, William Paterson, the Manhattan School, the New 
School, NYU, and so on.  These jazz students could hardly be called dupes of 
some nefarious education establishment or cadre of manipulative adults.  So 
I'll assume you are thinking about some other group of students you've 
encountered.  Otherwise I would find your assertions about jazz students 
more than a little patronizing.

Through two of my children, I have been a fairly close observer of various 
music education programs over the past 20 years or more.  I've had kids 
practicing in my living room for as long as I can remember.  I didn't put 
them up to that and neither did their teachers.  I've always been very 
careful not to push music of any kind at my kids.

One of my sons graduated from East Carolina University with a degree in jazz 
performance (tenor) a few years ago.  When he said that's what he wanted to 
study, I was quite surprised.  It wasn't anyone's idea but his.  He's 30 now 
and he seems genuinely happy to be a working musician. I just want him to be 
happy is whatever he does.  (Although I'm very happy he's not a lawyer, a 
Republican or a stockbroker).

My youngest son is a trumpet student at The New School.  When he was about 
12 he told me he had decided what he wanted to do with his life.  "I want to 
be a jazz trumpet player.  Nothing else seems worth doing."  All I could say 
was, "If you really feel that way, let me know what I can do to help."  He's 
been very focused on that path ever since.  I know several 19 and 20-year 
olds whose understanding of jazz exceeds that of any three disc jockeys or 
station managers I've ever met.

Are there really students who don't like the music but are only pursuing it 
because some overbearing adult has told them to?  Yeah, maybe in some high 
schools somewhere or in fucked-up, dysfunctional families anywhere.  Do 
half-assed, manipulative teachers exist?  Surely, from coast to coast and 
from kindergarten to conservatory.  But they’re atypical.  Are there radio 
people who don't know much about radio?  Of course.  But so what?  I think 
about 80 percent of anything is dubious.

To me the greater truth is that many young people are as attracted to 
improvised music as in any past generation, and their pursuit of that 
interest is as serious, valid and promising as that of any generation. It is 
not evident to me that all the great ones have already come and gone.  After 
the high school years, I don't see serious students of improvised music 
playing to please anyone except themselves and their audiences, most of whom 
are their contemporaries.  I am just suggesting that we do well to recognize 
that, and that not recognizing it doesn't make it any less so.

I agree that we don't need the model of jazz education to build off of; that 
had not even occurred to me.  All we need do is understand that young people 
are still interested in improvised music.  Some of them are enrolled in jazz 
education curricula in pursuit of that.  But the schools are not causing it, 
they're just serving that self-directed population.  Some schools and some 
teachers are better than others.  But I sure don’t see how the presence of 
jazz education is “a symptom of the problem.”  Here’s a real problem:  If we 
can't program radio stations that attract those young students and their 
peers, it's not because "they don't get it."

Bob Rogers

*****

From: Eric Hines <EHines at message.nmc.edu>
Reply To: Jazz Programmers Mailing List <jazzproglist at jazzweek.com>
To: jazzproglist at jazzweek.com
Subject: Re: [JPL] Consider the demo
Sent: Tuesday, October 3, 2006 1:02 PM

1.  The world’s largest gathering of advocates for jazz is the annual
convention of the International Association of Jazz Educators, an
organization representing an academic field that scarcely existed a few
years ago.Â

With all due respect to this great organization, the fact that the largest
gathering of jazz folks is an educational one is a symptom of the problem, 
in my
opinion. (see below)

The expansion of jazz education is surely one of the most
striking success stories in either jazz or academia over the past 30 years.Â
A burgeoning body of young players, many of them highly gifted.  What could
be attracting them?  It certainly can’t be the money or the benefits 
package
(except in some highly abstract, nearly unaffordable sense).  Could the
appeal of improvised music itself possibly account for all this interest and
passion from young musicians?  Hmmm….

Have you ever considered the possibility that these young players aren't 
really
all that passionate about the music they play? I've certainly run into more 
than
a few young jazz players who know surprisingly little about jazz and who
probably would never listen to it if it weren't part of the musical career 
path
established by their teachers. Education is not essentially a market-driven
endeavor; education is where the elders force the young to learn the things 
they
(the elders) regard as being important. So I'd say this is a supply-side
phenomenon, reflecting the preferences and institutional power of this
generation of teachers.

One might observe, for instance, that radical politics really seems to 
thrive on
college campuses, that there are all kinds of activities and voices raised 
there
from the left, that a lot of the folks at protests are young, etc. But none 
of
this has anything to do with the general cultural influence of leftist
politics--it reflects a campus culture more or less inculcated by the last 
few
generations of teachers.

2.  Jazz on the radio comes mostly via public stations.  But the biggest
success story in public radio belongs to news and public affairs/talk
programming.  One of the  biggest current trends is for more hours of
news/talk programming, often at the expense of jazz programming, which is
vulnerable because of its inability to attract a younger audience, a vital
survival task that news/talk itself is not very good at either.  If only
jazz programming could attract younger listeners the way jazz education
attracts young players…

If in January you go to the IAJE in New York, you can hear a lot of live
music, and not just in the convention’s two hotels.  It’s great to go 
to the
Blue Note, Birdland, the Vanguard – all those iconic and still really 
great
places to hear music.  But while you’re there, you’d do well to check 
out
places such as Small’s, The 55 Bar, Cornelia Street Cafe, Tonic, the Stone
or any one of several new jazz clubs in Brooklyn.  It’s a noticeably 
younger
crowd with a slightly different sensibility, yet the same as jazz ever was 
–
a good mixture of passionate, gifted players, some seasoned and others less
so, but all looking for and sometimes finding, their voices.  Notice how
they’re playing to younger audiences.  Maybe you should take a jazz 
student
to lunch.

Taking a young studnet out to lunch is probably a good idea, but NYC may be 
the
last place in the world to be drawling inferences from: it is very populous,
very compact with a very large elective population (people who have moved 
from
elsewhere for the express purpose of attending such events). NYC just 
doesn't
give you a particularly good read on the state of jazz across the country.

That said, are there young folks who are susceptible to jazz? Yes, I think 
there
are. Is musical education one of the ways to reach them? Yes. Can jazz 
exploit
their interest to the benefit of everyone? Yes, I think they can.

But I don't think the rise of jazz education represents a model to build off 
of
unless we get the power to flunk the general populace and deny them
certifications and degrees for not listening to jazz.

While I am all in favor of this, I don't see it happening under the current
administration.

--eric


Eric Hines
General Manager
WNMC 90.7 FM
http://www.wnmc.org
1701 East Front St.
Traverse City, MI 49686

231-995-2562





Bob Rogers
2816 Barmettler Street
Raleigh, NC 27607
WSHA - www.wshafm.org
Bouille & Rogers Consultants
email: rwsfin at hotmail.com
phone: (919) 413-4126




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