Kenley Kristofferson

Composer.

Tag: brandon jazz festival

Music Ed Mondays – They Just Aren’t Scared

So, Spring Break is done and we’re back to real life now.  Teachers reading, I hope that you’ve had some chance to rest; students reading, welcome back 🙂

About two weeks before, we went to the Brandon Jazz Festival in Brandon, MB, Canada.  The playing is fabulous and the clinics are usually good (like any festival, some clinics are good and others… not so), but the best part is really to hang out with your students outside of the classroom.  Now, at this point, some teachers may be thinking “oh man, that’s the last thing I want to do! I see them enough every day!”

Okay, remember that I’m a music teacher and the band/choir/orchestra room is a bit of a different beast.  Commonly, but not always, we don’t get to verbally engage our kids very often because so much of our assessment is singing/playing.  We don’t really get to talk to them very often.

Between performances and watching other groups, we teachers get to actually talk about their lives, their experiences, and their ideas about the world.

For example, I was walking with one student about her trip to Ottawa (and I had no idea she even went on it in the first place).  She was doing some Youth Parliament work there, where she sat beside the governor general, had some great discussions and met like-minded people.  As she was recounting her experiences and her discussions with all of these people, she said the most interesting thing about them:

They’re open-minded.  They don’t discriminate.  They just aren’t scared of things.

And I thought that was so profound – particularly the last one.  I love how this student connected those three ideas.  The open-mindedness is connected to not discriminating, and the not discriminating is connected to not being scared – that discrimination is linked to fear.

I just love that.  The people she met just weren’t scared of things and, as a result, they just didn’t discriminate.  Imagine if adults felt that way? Imagine if they could have the awareness of what that means like this student (or these students) do.

I think that I want to leave this there, but your homework is to think about it… then think about how to have that conversation with your class (if you’re a teacher).

Are you scared of anything in people? Why is that? You may not know the answer, but go for the search inside yourself.

Until next time,
Kenley

Music Ed Monday – Count Basie Eighth Notes

This past week, I took my Senior Big Band to the Brandon Jazz Festival in Brandon, MB, Canada.  It’s a fantastic festival and I hope that you all go 🙂

In which case, we played Count Basie’s “Hayburner,” an arrangement of Chick Corea’s “Spain” and then a local tune called “Hobgoblin” by Moses Mayes (and arranged by my bass player, which is fabulous).  In our clinic, our adjudicator talked about where the eighth notes lay in the Basie big band – sometimes on the 2/3 (as in a triplet, or swung eighth) or sometimes on the 3/4 (as in a sixteenth note, so really laying it back).

I talked about this with my friend and former bandmate, Brad Grieve, who played in Gordon Foote’s* big band at McGill.  He gave me a teachable tidbit that changed my whole perception on how to play Basie:

 The Count Basie swing is this: When a there are a series of 8th notes, the swing is triplets (2/3, 1/3), however, when a figure is followed by a rest, or is tied, the last beat of 8th notes in the series are 16th note related (3/4, 1/4). Every time. How “laid-back” the band is is a myth. Everyone plays on the downbeats at the same time, its the difference in swing of the 8th notes that give the feeling of being laid back.

So, if you teach big band, I hope that you find this valuable! Here is “Corner Pocket,” one of my favourite Basie tunes!

Until then!

Kenley