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  • How to Learn Something from Any Situation

    When we make the transition from school to the real world, maintaining our learning curve can present a challenge. In school we’re often handed things that we need to work on in the form or homework or assignments, and so we rarely have to think about the next step.

    But what happens when you no longer have someone telling you what to do to get better?

    How do you find the direction that you need to continue improving?

    One of the easiest ways ways to get direction whenever you feel as though you’re struggling is to study with a good teacher.

    No matter how long we’ve been out of school, you’re never to old for a private lesson with someone who can provide you with good feedback!

    But if you’re not able to take lessons for whatever reason, there are a few things that you can do on your own to improve and overcome any plateaus in your learning that you might be facing.

    Learn from the bad

    Start recording yourself as you practice and as you perform. Audio is great but video is even better.

    The next step is the hardest one.

    Watch it.

    For some, watching a video of a performance or listening back to a practice session can be an awkward (or even frustrating) experience. I, for one, don’t like to watch videos of myself performing.

    But how am I going to improve my live performance if I don’t watch videos?

    If I don’t take the time to look at what I’m doing, there are likely things that I’ll miss. Perhaps I believe I’m more dynamic on stage or that I’m moving around more than I am in reality. Perhaps I don’t realize that I’m constantly reaching up to run a hand through my hair or not looking out at the audience enough.

    The only way I’m really going to catch all of those little things that can truly amp up my live performance (if I work on them) is by analyzing past performances.

    I need to look at the bad things that I’m doing and iron them out.

    But you can also learn from the “bad” things that other players or performers are doing.

    Perhaps you went to a show and there was something about it you didn’t enjoy. Maybe the musicians didn’t engage with the audience or their set list was too eclectic. Perhaps they weren’t well rehearsed. Or maybe it was just the way the lead stood with bad posture that bothered you.

    Whatever it is, learn from it. Make a note of the things that you dislike about other performers and make a point of never doing them yourself.

    Learn from the good

    When you are watching the videos of your past performances, don’t just pay attention to the things you want to work on. Keep track of the things that you’re doing that you like.

    When you’re listening back to the audio recordings of your practice, take note of the things that you do that are unique to your playing.

    And then keep doing them.

    When you go out to other performances or when you listen to albums from other artists, listen and watch for things that impress you.

    Then learn how to do them yourself before adapting them so that they become your own.

    Listen to musicians that inspire you to work harder and get to the next level with your playing and performance.

    If, for whatever reason, you’re unable to go out and see performances put on by the musicians that inspire you, spend some time browsing videos on YouTube. And even if you are able to go out and see live shows, spend time studying the performances of other musicians on Youtube as well.

    You can learn from any situation – whether good or bad – and use what you’ve gained from that experience to improve as a player and grow as a musician. It’s up to you to collect those experiences and put them to use.

    August 31, 2015 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 1251

  • 13 Things No One Told Me About Being A Professional Musician

    I began my career as a professional musician while in high school and I’ve learned more outside of school these past few years than I did in all of my time in school (and I went to school through a Master’s degree).

    Some of the lessons that I’ve learned were much harder than others, but I’m grateful for all of the knowledge I’ve gained throughout my career.

    Despite the fact that no one told me the following about being a professional musician, I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned with you.

    1. Finding the motivation to work as a self-employed, independent musician isn’t always easy. There are some days that you just don’t feel like doing anything, but you need to push through it and sit down to do the work anyway.
    2. How little your the role your actual playing plays on a day to day basis. It isn’t hours of practice and nothing but performances all day, every day. There is so much other work that goes into being a professional. Business stuff. Image stuff. Networking stuff. Promotion stuff. Finance stuff. Contract stuff.
    3. How much time (or money) it actually takes to put out quality content. Creating an excellently produced album isn’t as simple as jumping into a basement recording studio with your high school buddies. While it can be done, it isn’t the best way to do it. And album costs aren’t just the production costs (what it takes to create the album), there are also promotion and distribution costs.
    4. It’s hard. And sometimes you want to quit. Sometimes you wish you had decided to do something else. But then are other times where you laugh at yourself for ever even playing around with the idea of doing something else.
    5. It’s okay to have hobbies. Not all of your free time needs to be spent working on and improving your music. A lot of it should, but not all of it. It’s healthy to get away and do something else every so often.
    6. Depression is a thing. For most artists – whether it be aritst, writer or musician – depression is a thing and if you struggle with it, do something about it. You aren’t alone. And if you need to, you should talk to someone about it.
    7. People can be downright cruel. But they can also be incredibly and surprisingly supportive.
    8. Creativity blocks are real. Oh, so real. It isn’t all free-flowing compositions, inspired improvisation, rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes your playing downright sucks. Sometimes you have a bad day. Sometimes you just don’t feel like writing or practicing. Just try to work through it so that it doesn’t become too many days in a row.
    9. Stick-to-it-ness is one of the best talents you can have.
    10. You aren’t just composing and performing for yourself. A lot of people will tell you this, and in a way, they aren’t wrong. You need to create music that you want to hear first, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore you audience. What I think that really means when you break it down is that if you’re selling out and trying to ride trends, your audience will see you as inauthentic. You need to create the music you want to create and that you enjoy. Something you can put your heart and soul behind. That’s what others enjoy and want to hear. That’s what matters most. But, don’t write and record music for the sake of numbers, do it because you’re trying to reach out and connect with your audience (however many people that may be).
    11. You’ll very likely do a lot of gigs that you really wish you didn’t have to do.
    12. But you’ll also do gigs that are amazing and meet amazing people along the way.
    13. That you cannot afford to stop learning. There is always room for growth.

    So there you have it, thirteen things I’ve learned about being a professional musician. What are your experiences? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

    August 26, 2015 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 1146

  • Saxophonist & Flutist Shannon Watson | Teen Jazz Artist

    When did you first begin seriously studying your instrument?

    Back in 5th grade when everyone was signing up for either orchestra, band or general music, I knew I just wanted to do something because general music was just awful! So deciding to do flute was because my mother’s favorite movie had this solo piece she just loved, and she always wanted me to play it for her.

    Setup & Music Gear

    I use a Jupiter 507 Flute and a Yamaha Bari Saxophone from my school with Vandoren size 3 reeds usually.

    Saxophonist & Flutist Shannon Watson

    Located in Gilbert, Arizona

    • Bari Saxophonist & Flute Player
    • Years Playing: 6 years

     

     


    Teen Jazz Artist Badge

    [What’s this?]

    What are you doing with music right now?

    Currently working with my schools concert, marching, and jazz band on both flute and saxophone while taking weekly lessons. I would love to expand on my jazz work outside of school however.

    Who are some of your influences?

    James Moody is someone I get a lot of ideas from, being he plays both saxophone and flute. He got the idea in my head that I can solo on flute. Ben Wendel’s music (Kneebody) also gave me alot of inspiration on ideas when first starting out, and I think my soloing reflects both of those ideas.

    Who do you/have you studied with?

    I do my flute studies with my private instructor Stephanie Hoeckley, and for saxophone I have worked with Bradyn Owens and Dan Puccio.

    What are some of your goals musically for the future?

    I plan on studying music in college and seeing what happens from there.

     


     

    Interested in having your profile featured on our site?

    Teen Jazz is also looking for young Jazz Artist features, so you could become a feature if you apply. You will be notified by email of the status of your application.

    Terms and Conditions:

    (A) You cannot submit one sentence answers to the Teen Jazz Artist Application form questions, they must be a short paragraph.

    (B) You must respond to the confirmation email that you receive from Shannon Kennedy after you submit your profile or your profile will not be published on Teen Jazz.

    (C) Pictures and Contact Information on your page are optional, but let us at Teen Jazz know if you would like to have both or either on your profile.

    Apply Here

    August 24, 2015 • Up and Coming Musicians • Views: 1898

  • A review of Al Di Meola’s Elysium

    With more than four decades in music, three gold albums, and more than six million record sales worldwide, Al Di Meola is ready for his next success with Elysium.

    The album consists of 14 original tracks with Di Meola accompanied by guests such a Philippe Saisse and Mario Parmisano on keyboards, Rhani Krija on percussion, and Peter Kaszas on drums.

    Al Di Meola can be heard blending the sounds of his Conde Hermanos acoustic prototype model with his ’71 Les Paul electric throughout the songs on Elysium, bringing two usually distinct guitar styles – a sometimes hard rock and sometimes classically romantic – together.

    Elysium opens with “Adour,” in which Di Meola accompanies an electric guitar melody with acoustic guitar. “Babylon” has a ostinato part over which Di Meola something action through a fusion-influenced melody, definitely our favorite on the project. “Purple and Gold” is somewhat cinematic in nature, but something nonetheless fitting with the other tunes on the project.

    The title track, “Elysium” has a lighter feel to it and a melody that transports you from where ever you might be listening to an intimate sonic landscape. “Amanjena” begins with a slow and something introduction before delving into a full-something with Di Meola improvising over the track on electric. The album closes with the mysterious and vibraphone driven “La Lluvia”.

    The project is definitely one that will be undoubtedly poured over by guitarists and fans of Di Meola.

    Al Di Meola has worked with Return to Forever, Rite of Strings, his Guitar Trio along with John McLaughlin and Paco Lucia, and more. He has more than 20 albums as a leader and is world renowned for his blending of world and Latin musics with jazz. He attended Berklee College of Music and soon joined Chick Corea’s fusion group Return to Forever at the age of 19. He will be honored with the 22nd Miles Davis Award at the Montreal Jazz Festival this summer (2015).

    Get Elysium on Amazon.

    Title: Elysium
    Artist: Al Di Meola
    Date: June 09, 2015
    Genre: Jazz, Jazz Fusion
    Label: inakustik Label Group

    Tracks:

    01 Adour
    02 Cascade
    03 Babylon
    04 Purple and Gold
    05 Esmeralda
    06 Elysium
    07 Amanjena
    08 Sierra
    09 Etcetera in E Major (Intro)
    10 Etcetera in E Major
    11 Tangier
    12 Stephanie
    13 Monsters
    14 La Lluvia

    Get Elysium on Amazon.

    August 19, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 1399

  • The Essentials for Any Musician

    I’ve recently had a few of my students’ parents ask me about the music equipment that their child should have and so I decided to answer it here.
    While this varies slightly from instrument to instrument, there are a few essentials that every up and coming musician should keep with them in their case at all times.
    1. Cleaning cloth // This doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It could be anything from a microfiber cloth to a special cleaning glove or an old cut up t-shirt. This is the one that I use.
    2. Tuner // With fresh batteries!
    3. Metronome // Again, with fresh batteries! On Amazon you can find an affordable metronome that is also a tuner. I use this one.
    4. For woodwinds // non-stick powder or sheets, cork grease, extra reeds, a neck strap
    For brass // valve oil and slide oil
    For bassists or guitarists // extra strings and picks (if you use them)
    5. Music // I recommend a good method book at the very least. Your school teacher can usually recommend a good one.
    6. A way to listen to your music (an mp3 player, computer or cd player)
    7. Your instrument (and that doesn’t have to be something overly expensive) // Don’t forget to bring any part of it to your lessons or your classes. I’ve had saxophone students do silly things like forget their neck or mouthpiece. Also double check to make sure everything is in your case!
    8. A practice journal // This can be any notebook that will hold together well enough to be carried around back and forth from your house to your lessons. I just use a composition notebook.
    If you have any questions, please feel free to leave me a note in the comments.

    August 17, 2015 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 972

  • A Review of Jamison Ross’s Debut Album Jamison

    On June 23, 2015, drummer Jamison Ross celebrated the release of his debut album, Jamison. The album, released on Concord Jazz, not only features the young artists talents as a drummer and composer, but as a vocalist as well.

    The album is the perfect blend of jazz, blues, and soul and Jamison’s voice has a subtle power to it that captivates the listener, making this debut a very enjoyable listen.

    Jamison is a combination of original music with covers such as Muddy Waters’ “Deep Down in Florida”, refreshed as a new orleans-style tune driven by grungy guitar over a blues form. “Sack Full of Dreams” from Louis Savary and Eddie Harris’ and Les McCann’s “Set Us Free”, and Carmen Lundy’s “These Things You Are to Me” round up the covers on the project, making the album a pleasant blend of classics and new material.

    Jamison Ross is accompanied by his college mates on the project including guitarist Rick Lollar, bassist Corcoran Holt, saxophonist Dayve Stewart, pianist Chris Pattishall, organist Cory Irvin, and trumpet player Alphonso Horne III. Jonathan Batiste also performs piano on four of the tracks.

    Recommended.

    Jamison Ross was the winner the 2012 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Award for drums in 2012.

    Get Jamison on Amazon.

    Title: Jamison
    Artist: Jamison Ross
    Date: June 23, 2015
    Genre: Jazz,
    Label: Concord Jazz

    Tracks:

    01 Deep Down in Florida
    02 Martha’s Prize – Instrumental
    03 Emotions
    04 Sack Full of Dreams
    05 Set Us Free – Instrumental
    06 Sweet Surrender (The Hook) – Interlude
    07 My One and Only Love
    08 These Things You Are to Me
    09 Jazz (Aubrielle Ross) – Interlude
    10 Epiphany
    11 Bye Bye Blues – Part I
    12 Bye Bye Blues – Part II

    Get Jamison on Amazon.

    August 12, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 978

  • Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin

    We introduced you to composer George Gershwin in an earlier post and now we would like to share some information on one of his most notable compositions – Rhapsody in Blue.

    The Composition

    In 1923, Paul Whiteman asked George Gershwin to write a jazz piece for his band but Gershwin did not take this request seriously until an article appeared in the New York Tribune on Jan 4, 1924, announcing that he was working on a “jazz concerto” to be premiered by the Whiteman Band at Aeolian Hall in New York.

    The Premier

    February 12, 1924, “Rhapsody in Blue” was premiered by Paul Whiteman and his Palais Royal Orchestra. Inspired by the rattle of the Boston train and James McNeill Whistler’s painting “Nocturne in Black and Gold,” “Rhapsody in Blue” earned him over $250,000 during the Great Depression.

    The performance of “Rhapsody in Blue” was the first that Gershwin would make as a concert pianist performing his own work. “Rhapsody in Blue” was composed in a week’s time. Its style is an assimilation of European and jazz styles with a slight blues appeal.

    The release of the piece had mixed reviews from serious music critics and the general public. “Serious music critics were often at a loss as to where to place Gershwin’s classical music in the standard repertoire. Some dismissed his work as banal and tiresome, but it always found favor with the general public.” (PBS, 1) Rhapsody, however, was the work that defined his career and elevated him to a level of greatness he had not before attained.

    Due to public popularity, the entire concert was repeated multiple times. Then, in a play, “The Vortex,” Rhapsody was introduced to England which soon demanded the piece.

    The Piece

    The piece is known for its opening glissando; the playing of a chromatic scale from the designated first note to the second note in the time allowed. During its premier, Ross Gorman played this on clarinet. The music is compared to high wire balancing with various city sounds. There is a variation of “Rhapsody in Blue” because some segments were too difficult and therefore omitted in its publication. The omitted portions were later discovered and reinserted by Alicia Zizzo, a pianist and composer. “Rhapsody in Blue” combined classical and jazz styles. It was originally written for piano, but was arranged for piano and jazz band later.

    After the composition of “Rhapsody in Blue,” other musicians began to take Gershwin more seriously as a musician and composer. The complexity and genius that went into the composition of the piece, especially when considering it was written in under a week, is incredible.

    August 10, 2015 • Teen Jazz • Views: 1136

  • How I Earned More in Tips than What the Gig Paid Playing to a Nearly Empty Room

    At some point or another we’ve all had or will have gigs where the room is nearly empty. You can’t win them all. But, how those gigs turn out all depend on how you behave and how you perform despite whatever disappointment you may be feeling.

    So let me start by saying it’s not easy.

    When you’re playing to an empty room, it’s hard to find the energy to put on a good performance. There isn’t an audience to play off of or interact with and so it’s easy to slip into putting on a mediocre show. Especially if they’re not paying attention.

    But here’s why you shouldn’t let that happen.

    A smaller audience gives you the opportunity to connect on a more intimate level with your listeners. Don’t miss out on that opportunity!

    First, I recommend gauging the room before following my suggestions. If the room would rather focus on their meal and not on the music, it might be better to let them do that (if you don’t want the venue manager to be upset with you).

    But if they’re watching you or applauding after you finish songs, make them a part of your performance.

    Let them call out requests in between songs, get a dialogue going with them. It’s an experience they’ll likely remember and a great way to build relationships with your audience.

    Don’t be afraid to talk with those enjoying your music from where you’re playing – just don’t get too carried away and leave too much space between songs.

    Perform as though you’re playing for a large audience. Play like you’re on a stage and not tucked away next to the bar. You never know who’s watching!

    I recently had an experience where I performed in a restaurant to a small crowd. Rather than letting it get the best of me, I decided to make the most of the situation.

    One of the couples sitting near to where I was playing applauded after a song I played and I asked them if there was anything they wanted to hear. They asked me to play something that I really enjoyed playing, which I did, and it opened up to use chatting briefly between songs.

    In turn, this got the attention of some of the other patrons in the room and they began to change seats so that they too could engage with me.

    It ended up being a fun night and in a way, an almost private and personal concert for those that were there. I didn’t do it to earn tips – I did it to create an awesome musical experience for the people that were there. But it did end up in me tripling what I made that night because of the tips I received.

    I am really grateful to have had that experience and for the kindness the people there that night showed me. I am glad that I had the chance to meet them and get to know them.

    What about you? Have you ever had any musical experiences that could have gone poorly but you managed to turn them around? I’d love to hear about your music experiences – both the good, the bad, and the ugly – in the comments!

    August 5, 2015 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 1054

  • We Want to Work With You + August Ad Space

    In case you missed it, here’s a video of one of our latest Teen Jazz Artists, Carlos Vargas. Find out how to apply to come an artist here. You may be featured in our next post!

    We Want to Work With You!

    If you have a music product or a new album coming out soon, or you’re looking to get more attention for your existing catalog, let’s talk about working together!

    For as little as $5 a month, you can advertise with us on Teen Jazz. And that $5 goes a long way. Not only will you have a featured ad on our site, but you’ll also get social media mentions throughout the duration of your sponsorship.

    Work with Us

    Who advertises with us? Music companies (accessories, gear, instruments), artists promoting a new album or their artist website, music publishing companies, music stores and resellers, music promoters, concerts and other music events.

    Who reads Teen Jazz? Up and coming musicians from around the world ranging from their teens to adulthood. Our readers are musicians just starting out in the music industry and even those who are already established and are looking for more information on the music business.

    If you’re interested in checking out some of our sponsored posts, see what we’ve put together for Claude Lakey, Lessonface, and KDI Music.

    Ad space is available for one month ad slots, but if you’re interested in purchasing several months up-front, we offer bonuses based on the amount of time reserved.

    We currently have two sidebar ad spaces available – learn more here.

    We’re Also Looking for Contributing Writers

    We are also currently looking for guest posts. You can find more information and our guidelines here.

    Have questions? Feel free to leave us a note in the comments or send us a message.

    August 3, 2015 • Resources, Teen Jazz • Views: 939

  • Why It’s Important to Stretch as a Musician

    Maintaining your health and keeping your body in shape while on and off the road as a musician is essential to a long-lasting career. By not taking care of your body, you could inhibit your ability to perform and so it’s important to be fit.

    One of the best things you can do to help keep your body in shape is to stretch. The repetitive motion that playing an instrument requires can make your muscles and body tense, so stretching is a great way not only to prevent injury but to ensure your fingers, arms, neck and back maintain their flexibility.

    You also risk injury if you push yourself to hard playing an instrument without any breaks or stretching. Just a few of the injuries that can occur are tendinitis, carpal tunnel, and thoracic outlet syndrome. You can find out more about music-related injuries and what can cause them here.

    This is why it’s important to take short breaks during long practice sessions or rehearsals to stretch every so often, drink a bit of water, and to give yourself the proper amount of time to heal if an injury occurs.

    For many musicians, the long breaks necessary to properly heal after an injury are hard to adjust to, if they’re even possible, so the key is prevention.

    Here are just a few stretches that you can do to help prevent injury:

    1. First, before we go into any specific stretches, I’d like to point out that you should not bounce while stretching. If a stretch is difficult for you, take it slow and only push yourself to the point of mild discomfort at most.

    2. You should also warm up on your instrument before you begin practicing any intense or repetitive passages. Not only is this good for both your technique on your instrument, but your body as well.

    3. Stretch your left and right shoulders. First, start by raising your right arm in the air as though raising your hand. Drop your arm behind your head, reaching for your left shoulder so your head rests in the crook of your elbow. Push your head back gently against your arm while trying to keep your right hand on your right shoulder to increase the stretch if needed. Do the same with your left arm, reaching for your right shoulder.

    4. Shoulder rolls. Do eight shoulder rolls in each direction (16 total) with both arms simultaneously. Be sure not to just move your shoulders in circular motions, but to really push down, forward up and behind to maximize the stretch.

    5. Arm circles. Do eight arm circles in each direction with both arms simultaneously. Just like with the shoulder rolls, make sure you push outward as much as you can.

    6. Do neck rolls. Do eight rolls to the right and eight to the left. Push your head down towards your chest, each of your shoulders, and your back as far as you can as you roll.

    7. Touch your toes. From the standing position, roll your body forward slowly as though you are folding towards the floor one vertebrate at a time. Keep your legs straight and reach towards your toes. If you can, try touching your palms flat to the floor. If you can’t, just reach down as far as your body will allow. Roll back up slowly, one vertebrate at a time. Do this at least once more.

    For all the above stretches I suggest going as slow as possible to maximize their effectiveness.

    When you practice, minimize the time you spend sitting. If you play an instrument you can practice standing up, do so. Or, at the very least, spend part of the time sitting and part of the time standing. If you play an instrument that requires you sit like cello, drums, or piano, stand for a moment whenever you have a chance (maybe at the end of a passage or song).

    Remember, that the repetitive motion required of your body when you play an instrument can be harmful to your body, so be sure to take frequent breaks, play with good posture, and listen to your body when it tries to tell you something.

    What are some of the stretches you do to prevent muscle tightness and to keep your body in top shape? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

    *Please note that I am not a medical professional. If you have any pain when playing an instrument, please see a doctor.

    July 29, 2015 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 935