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

Rick McLaughlin rick at rickmclaughlin.com
Thu Oct 5 11:32:44 EDT 2006


Hey Eric,

Interesting conversation, thanks for getting it started.  Let me just echo some of what Bob said, particularly when it comes to the preparatory schools at places like NEC, Juilliard, Hartt, etc.  These kids are inspired, and inspiring.  From my observation, as a teacher at the NEC prep school, what you say about pleasing the people who hand out the grades, well it is simply not true.  There is a kind of give and take, a sort of learning from each other style of teaching that may actually be rare, but at least at NEC, it exists and is the norm.  These kids come in each week after having discovered something, dying to show off what they have learned, and it is our job as teachers to keep them inspired, rather than to give them the power trip that you refer to below.

I also agree with Bob when he ascerts that there may be kids who pursue this music because someone is forcing them, but those kids are in an unfortunate situation, brought on by circumstances that have little to do with the music itself.  From my observation, this is a completely reasonable thing to say.

My students, and the students of my colleagues at NEC, are all highly motivated self-starters (forgive the buzz words, please).  I work very hard to keep them engaged and interested in exploring and learning, and in turn they keep me on my toes at all times.  Many of these students have gone on to college at Berklee, U of Miami, North Texas, Oberlin, Columbia and NYU, among other great places.  They pursue music of their own accord.

And if you are wondering if they can actually play, check out Grace Kelly - http://www.gracekellymusic.com.  Her new record, to be released in December, is unbelievable from the little I have heard, but her previous CDs and the kinds of musicians who seek her out (including Lee Konitz) speak volumes about her talents and her motivation.

Best,

Rick McLaughlin

-----Original Message-----
From: jazzproglist-bounces at jazzweek.com [mailto:jazzproglist-bounces at jazzweek.com] On Behalf Of Eric Hines
Sent: Thursday, October 05, 2006 10:51 AM
To: jazzproglist at jazzweek.com
Subject: [JPL] Responce to Eric Hines re: Consider the Ironies

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I have to say your response seems a bit out of step to me. I intended no insult whatsoever in saying that kids playing jazz in school-related playing may not actually like jazz that much. I'm not saying they are dupes, just that they know the score.

All I'm saying is is that the growth of jazz as a educational phenomenon may have very little to say about jazz as a mass cultural phenomenon.

You may not be able to win credentials in, say, literary studies, by reading your favorite books. You have to read the books that have been established in a recognized canon of those things worth reading. Same goes with music. What you have observed, I would argue, is that jazz has very decidedly arrived as part of the musical canon.

And again, students aren't dupes, but they aren't dopes, either. They know damn right well that school doesn't exist so they can go there and do whatever they want to do. They are there to please the people who pass out the grades. There's a power relationship there that you can't possibly escape, and that you can't possibly duplicate in the realm of mass culture. And this isn't a conspiracy, unless parenthood and education from the Greeks (at least) forward has been a conspiracy. It's just life.

The point I'm making has nothing to do with the old saw that 80-90% of everything is crap. What I'm saying is that  I think the metaphor you are working is fundamentally flawed because it doesn't recognize the big difference between people listeneing to and buying what they feel like listening to in an atmosphere of relative freedom and people behaving in a particular way within an institutional setting.



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. 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?  Hmmmâ€|.

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 playersâ€|

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

231-995-2562
-------------------------------------------

This week's sponsor:  JazzWeek Magazine

-------------------------------------------

If you're a subscriber to the JPL and NOT a subscriber to the weekly PDF edition of JazzWeek, you're missing out! See the latest jazz, smooth jazz, college jazz and world music charts powered by Mediaguide, as well as interviews with artists, industry and radio.  Each issue also has reviews, listings of current releases and add dates, and music and industry news.

Musicians, broadcasters, industry personnel, students and educators can subscribe free -- and paid subscribers can receive extra features and/or Wednesday delivery.

Visit http://www.jazzweek.com/ to find out more.

ALSO: Coming this fall -- an expanded JazzWeek website with enhanced features. Watch for it.



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