Quotes by Dr. Kevin Kjos
"I believe much more in effort than talent. Talent is for the movies; effort is real life."
"The rule at my university is: Don't miss rehearsal. Period."
"In my experience, the more challenging the music, the more the students like it, and often the more rewarding is the experience."Dr. Kevin Kjos is director of Jazz Studies and assistant professor of Trumpet at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania.
Recently I looked at a guest editorial of his, How to Build a Jazz Program. Here are the main points.
1. Have a Goal
Coltrane became a legendary player as a result of the hours he put into his art - no one gave him his talent, he earned it.
2. Practice Fundamentals and Have a Routine
Practice the elements on your instrument that will produce a beautiful, legato sound... the goal is to make a sound like your favorite player in the style your working on.
3. Never Miss or Come Late to Rehearsal
Remember, we're all in this together. Every other member of the ensemble is counting on you.
4. Be Prepared
It ends up being a much more fun rehearsal if the ensemble can actually perform the music we're working on without too many stops and starts.
5. Know the Style
I almost always play recordings in rehearsal for the ensembles, to try and get "into our ears" the sounds of the great bands. It's amazing how much better the ensemble plays just after hearing a recording.
6. Program Interesting Music - Aim High
In my experience, the more challenging the music, the more the students like it, and often the more rewarding is the experience.
7. Motivation - Bring in the Masters
When I get comments from my students every year about what they would like to see more of in our program, a large majority say "bring in more clinicians." I think the reason is that they want as many points of view as possible, enjoy playing for a new "set of ears," the opportunity to meet their heroes and get to know them personally and have a goal for rehearsals.
8. The Buddy System
Through observation and imitation the newbie develops the skills of the master. Practicing with another (not duets, but rather "switching off") can provide motivation to get into the practice room and practice with intensity.
9. Anything is Possible
Although once a controversial topic, it is becoming more and more apparent from scientific research that great musicians are made, not born. (I know, however, there's exceptions to the rule.) This is great news for the jazz program from junior high to college. Research is showing us that anyone can reach an elite level of performance. If one engages in "goal oriented" practice in a diligent way, there is nothing that can hold a student back.
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"Jazz washes away the dust of every day life." -- Art Blakey