Thursday, October 25, 2018

Jen Shyu - Be You

On October 22 EWHS had the good fortune to host Jen Shyu as visiting artist. She was delightful and uplifting as an inspirational messenger to the 9th grade Concert Band class to "Be You".

Her personal story of growing up in the midwest playing piano and singing was typically American except that she was obviously full of natural ability and an amazing work ethic. There are videos of her as piano soloist with the local adult symphony when she's only 12 years old.

Through her study at Stanford (in Opera) she met some key people (including Francis Wong) who encouraged her to explore her heritage more deeply and that spark helped her to basically create her own genre of music blending eastern and western cultures and style elements. Her zeal for learning was contagious.  Especially impressive was her ability to list 10 languages she can speak fluently.

She told stories and sang several selections for her current show Nine Doors. The class enjoyed getting to ask questions and one special song was performed with the lights off which added an extra mystical element to an already beautiful sound.

Toward the end of our session together (about 90 minutes) she led a workshop on how to begin to compose using intervals and your own birthday.  This type of workshop can be experienced at her website for purchasable lessons.

We did some work association poetry writing and then some volunteers sang and gestured as an ensemble. While it was far from our comfort zone, students were charmed by Jen's fearlessness and got into the activity with her as coach and leader.

After her session with the Concert Band some students lingered to get to speak with her. Then she did a very short session with our Jazz Advisory Class which was also excellent and well received. 

It was a rich experience to have some students want to share their cultural heritage with her after the sessions and be a witness to their "light bulb" moments of inspiration.  I love any artist who can so fully celebrate themselves and not worry about sounding like anyone else ... my takeaway was that every musician should be their best selves.  Be you!  

After our session we enjoyed a visit to Walnut Coffee and got to talk about life as a traveling artist. I shared with her my new favorite artist work book by Austin Kleon called Show Your Work. She shared with me many interesting sites and stories which she's relied on to help other artists when they first arrive in New York including 
I hope she'll write a book before long too.

Special thanks to Andrea Mano for introducing us and to the Doris Duke Foundation for sponsoring her visit to Edmonds-Woodway. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Guest Artist Showcase with Helen Sung

EWHS and EARSHOT JAZZ were proud to host Helen Sung for our fall Guest Artist Concert on Tuesday, October 9th, 2018.

More about this amazing artist here ....

Ms. Sung lead rehearsals and master classes during the day and performed as soloist as well as in collaboration with EW Big Bands and Combos. She performed "In Walked Bud" and demonstrated some "stride" style piano.

Here's a snippet of the in class session ....

Masterclass sessions focused on getting students to put their own unique spirit into the music.  In Advisory session (all jazz students) she told her story of being raised as a classical musician and then attending a Harry Connick Jr. concert while in high school (at the urging of a friend) and that was the inspiration to begin learning more about Jazz.

She talked about her time at the Thelonius Monk Institute and that Jazz has a tradition of being taught as a craft from master to apprentice. This idea is at the heart of why I like to host guest artists as often as possible and also encourage all students to find a quality private teacher to guide their development.

She also encouraged drummers to find the heart of their sound in the ride cymbal and to listen to the masters like Elvin Jones, Art Blakey, Max Roach and Louis Hayes. During the session of rehearsal and even on stage in the evening performance she cheered the drummer to "Play" fuller and put more life into the cymbal sound.

There was a brief lesson about the importance of practicing with the metronome on different portions of the beat. Helen played Donna Lee with the metronome beating on the 2nd triplet of each beat which was a virtuosic display of discipline and concentration.

EWHS pianists were grateful to get to spend some quality time working on piano concepts.

Night concert was well attended and the students rose to the occasion. Ms. Sung joined Jazz Ensemble II on a vocal version of Tangerine sung by Hannah Rosenberg. 

Jazz Ensemble I opened with Harlem Airshaft and Tall Cotton then Ms. Sung also played with both top combos on The Jody Grind and Brother Thelonius (her own composition). Solo Piano pieces were definitely one of the highlights of the evening.  Jazz I concluded by playing Convergence and Song for Bilboa with Helen and various student soloists.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Equinox in C minor (lower than original)

Hi All,

If you're interested in working on C minor blues, this is an epic track by John Coltrane.  I transposed it down one half step using some online tools.  Take a listen and consider playing along?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Spring Performances and News

Here's a nice article that the Edmonds Beacon ran last week prior to my performance at the Edmonds Library.   The concert went great and featured Milo Petersen (guitar), Brad Boal (drums) and current student Rodney Ocfemia (bass).  

The EWHS Trip to Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival was a great success. In addition to our students winning the Sweepstakes Award for the first time (including a free Ludwig Drum Set with Zildjan Cymbals), I also enjoyed getting to adjudicate the elementary and middle school jazz choirs. 

Winners included Jazz Ensemble I and II, Top Combo, Outstanding Baritone Sax Kyle Bainbridge, Outstanding Vocalists Dominic Nye and Unathi Machyo. 

Here's a video montage of our excursion.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Jazz Congress

Jazz at Lincoln Center held its first annual Jazz Congress on Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend in New York 2018... check it out.