Category Archives: How To Listen

Honest Introspection

I frequently mention to students that YOU can be your best teacher if you learn to listen.

In this episode of #DansVlog I show you how I create a Honest Introspection from a gig I did at the Hot Numbers Jazz Cafe in Cambridge.

 

My Summer Playlists

I realise that getting your practice in during the summer can be tough, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do some useful music related activities if you’re at the beach right now!

I’ve put together some playlists on Apple Music & Spotify to share with you over the holidays. One of them is a playlist of all the transcription projects that you can find on the Cambridge Saxophone website, the other is a mammoth Blue Note playlist with over 3 days worth of albums!

If you have other playlists then this app (Songshift) can help you transfer playlists between different streaming services!

Apple Music Playlists
(click on the link to open in iTunes, you can get 3 months free)

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/playlist/cambridge-saxophone-transcription-projects/idpl.u-7Dm0yFW4o2Ng

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/playlist/blue-note/idpl.84a62de323464fc3a8ee59a7f66f669e

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/playlist/best-of-prestige-records/idpl.9b77a66e2ffe4d2686e7f85d6f2bf56b

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/playlist/coltrane-standards-book/idpl.u-mPD8tzGveBo

Spotify (you can listen to Spotify for free, but with adverts)

I hope you will enjoy these playlists! Music streaming is an incredible resource for any music student and I urge you to take advantage of these whilst you’re away.

Wynton Marsalis Chats to Cambridge Saxophone Students

On Saturday, 21st June I was delighted that Wynton Marsalis brought the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra to the Cambridge Corn Exchange. It was a particularly special date for me as it was exactly fifteen years ago to the day since I performed on the same stage with a Blues Brothers band.

I had been in touch with LCJO saxophone players Sherman Irby and Victor Goines to arrange a backstage meeting, but they both escaped to The Eagle for some fish’n’chips! I met up with them later on, but it was a real thrill to introduce some of my students – in particular 14-year-old Rob Burton, who, maybe one day, will be playing with LCJO – to … Wynton Marsalis.

Some of the great pearls of wisdom that Wynton shared with us are outlined below.

Don’t just learn the notes, learn why those notes were played.

Many of you may know that Wynton is quite a jazz conservative. His excellent book Moving to a Higher Ground is a must-read for any student of music, jazz fan or not. We’re going to read his book and have a Google hangout on it over the summer. But he surprised me a great deal by encouraging Rob (and all of us) to learn the music of Ornette Coleman:

The avant-garde is what youngsters should learn. They need to appreciate the freedom that is found in the music of Ornette Coleman.

I later met up with Sherman Irby, Victor Goines and other members of the saxophone section for a few beers. I’ll say more about this over the next few weeks, but these are some of the key points they wanted to share:

  • If you want to be a musician, be like a stockbroker. Spread your portfolio as widely as you can: be an arranger, clarinet player, teacher, composer – but work hard at all of them.
  • Vocabulary is everything – if you want to be a better musician, learn the vocabulary to express it.
  • Work hard on your sound. (Where have you heard that before?)
  • Spend time each day listening to music – really.

 

It was such a great thrill to have these guys in Cambridge. I’m in touch with a few interested parties about getting a Cambridge International Jazz Festival and I’d love to welcome Wynton and the Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra back to this town.

Just before the guys came to Cambridge they recorded this in Harrogate

Riding along in my automobile (with Chris Potter beside me at the wheel) …

Well, Chris along with Paul Motion, Larry Grenadier and Rebecca Martin.

The most-often heard phrase I hear during my student consultations is ‘I just don’t have the time to practise …’

I feel your pain. It is difficult to find time. The secret is planning to practise and then doing your best to keep that date … Maybe that’s another video for me to do.

In the meantime here’s some practice you can do on the way to work, while travelling around or simply sat at home.