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Monday, November 02, 2009


“I’ll not ask your names, I never remember names, I can’t even remember the names of my children.” Said Gilad Atzmon, with typical self-deprecating humour. Thus began this fascinating and informative workshop. About 10 of us attended, ages from 16 upwards, with a preponderance of sax players, but also a trumpet, violin, electric guitar, 2 pianists and 2 singers. The session was in 2 parts, trying out improvisation and then discussing technique. And Gilad wasted no time in getting a few of us to play together creatively, and it actually sounded not too bad. Further attempts showed up the real problem, which was NOT LISTENING to the other musicians. Gilad explained it well, it’s the ear that matters in music, we shouldn’t be concentrating on looking at written music, but listening. We analyse too much, music isn’t academic. This applies to all music, not just jazz. To improve technique, he declared that you must identify your problem and admit it, decide on the solution, then put it into practice. A demonstration of how to improve tone followed. The saxes were shown how to get a breathy tone out of the instrument with a simultaneous low tone. As a non-sax player I’ve no idea what they were doing but it sounded intriguing. Musicians were encouraged to sing some parts of the scale when practising. It seems we singers are doing it right anyway! We then did rhythm exercises with clapping and stamping out the pulse, and rounded off with Indian Tabla rhythms. This bit was difficult to latch onto, and I think Gilad should return soon to extend our knowledge of this. With loads of discussion and good humour this was a very successful session, which could be enjoyed by anyone who likes music, which is probably everyone. Ann Alexander
(There are more observations on this remarkable experience to follow - Lance.)

1 comment :

Angela Elliott said...

This sounds like a wonderful workshop. I wonder if he's repeating it done my way at all? (London) I did a course a few years ago at the London College of Contemporary Music and although we had a preponderance of great teachers - Anita Wardell, Nick Weldon, Trevor Tompkins, Dave Waterman - it was Dave O'Higgins who really inspired me, and from whom I learned the most. I learned that I can hear the 'guidetones' really well, just like a sax player, but that I need to explore the scales more. The sax players in our group, needless to say, were told to listen to me for the guidetones! I was well chuffed I can tell you! So yes, singers do sometimes get it right!

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