Is Jazz a STYLE of music? A WAY of playing? A way of thinking? An analogy for life?
That’s part of what I talk about in a free webinar called “What is Jazz? (and why play it on a harp??).” You can click the link to watch the replay!
“What is Jazz” is a free one-hour introduction for students already enrolled in Hip Harp Academy, and ready to explore jazz harp this summer – and it’s open to anyone else who wants to sign up — both harp players interested in this summer’s 12-Week “Jazz for Harps” program – and curious people who just want to know more about jazz.
We’re not all musicians … but …
I know that readers of my ezine are not all harp players — they’re about 50% musicians yourselves and 50% music-lovers who’ve seen me perform and joined my list from there. And my own life is a mix of music – and non-music – so no matter what I learn or do in music, I’m always looking for the parallels in the rest of my life. I’m always looking for how life is like music and how music is like other things I do.
“DO” is the operative word here.
When I talk about jazz, I’m not talking about it as a listener, and I’m not talking about the history, the styles or the statistics of the great players. I’m talking about how it works — how you, me, anyone, can play WITH it. I’m not talking about details of how to become a great player – I’m talking about what it takes to get on the field and in a version of the game at your current level of ability.
As you are right now.
In this moment.
Access versus Exclusivity
I’m talking about how to achieve access and inclusion – because that’s what we need before we can even start thinking about excellence. We need to know how to add this beautiful thing to our lives, how to discover the freedom, the focus, the connection and the self-expression it gives. How to share that with others.
I harp on this (pardon the expression) because there can be so much snobbery and fear as a musician about what right you have to play if you’re not ‘good enough’ to mezmerize a room of rapt listeners, or play at a ‘professional level.’
And this fear often actually increases the more skilled you are, especially if you studied in a conservatory or were/are in any kind of competitive environment – and the students in my Academy span from impassioned amateurs starting the journey of musical expression to professionals looking for a way to escape the tyranny of a life constrained by the search for perfection.
So I’m constantly looking for analogies in the non-musical world – both for myself and my students.
The game & the recipe
Jazz is like a game. You can learn the fundamentals of jazz the same way you can learn how to play any team sport, any board game — any game. And once you learn those fundamental rules, you can spend a lifetime both playing with others, developing your own skills and just having fun with it.
Jazz is like a recipe book. Each jazz chart is on a single page – occassionally 2 pages – and it’s basically an outline of the ingredients and the sequence of events you use to cook up jazz from that particular tune.
Do you have to be good enough to get in the NBA or signed to the Red Sox to have fun throwing a ball for your dog? Do you have to be a gourmet chef to cook great meals for yourself? ABSOLUTELY NOT. (Just visit the Burnt Food Museum for proof that even the worst cooking can be fun).
Everyone and anyone can have a pinnacle personal experience playing music. And everyone can play with others at their own skill level.
I’m passionate about this (ask me about my two grandmothers sometime to find out why). This is one reason I created Hip Harp Academy – for my own worldwide tribe of harp players.
Does that mean everyone can make a living at it or mesmerize an audience of listeners? No. And, frankly, that’s irrelevant. That’s like thinking you have to be a celebrity chef in order to cook for friends.
Jazz is like …???
The one thing I haven’t yet found an outside-world parallel for — and maybe you can help me here – is how each performance of a jazz tune spins the tune again and again, kind of like the chorus of a song but a chorus that’s endlessly changing – because each chorus in jazz explores the same thing differently.
That’s probably what fascinates me most about jazz: that each tune, each separate roadmap or chart, is the opportunity to keep coming back to the same thing and discovering something different about it.
As your skills and coordination grow, you discover new ways of playing with the tune. The same tune. A different experience.
“Getting better” at jazz is about developing your focus and coordination in ways that allow you to be more and more open to discovery in the moment. And that’s something you can do at any skill level.
So watch the one-hour FREE webinar replay, “What is Jazz” and if you play the harp – SIGN UP NOW FOR my 12-week “Jazz for Harps” program.
If you play the harp ... Join DHC's Hip Harp Academy
Deborah Henson-Conant's "Hip Harp Academy" online learning community is open for self-paced learning yearlong. DHC personal guides each class in the Academy once a year. Access to each guided class is limited to students who register before the 2nd week of class. Registration for the Fall Guided course, "HIp Harp TOOLKIT" is currently closed.
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