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Professional Musicians Visit with Bay’s Jazz Class

By Colin Williams, Bay Music and Humanities Teacher

I read an article recently entitled "Why Doesn't Your Band Sound Good?"  The author, a professor of music, argues that high school band teachers spend too much time in whole-class instruction and not enough time in private study and sectionals. 

The Advanced Jazz class at Bay has always included private instruction for our students.  I'm amazed that so many of the Bay Area's best professional musicians have been willing to take the time to work with our kids.  This year we have been fortunate to have the following pros visit The Bay School:

  • Clifford Brown III, grandson of the trumpet legend
  • Daniel Heffez, leader of the Nova Jazz Quartet
  • Michael Hatfield, vibraphonist extraordinaire
  • Bernie Bagshaw, guitar hotshot
  • Caroline Chung, Bay Area bassist
  • Amy Stephens, pianist and composer
  • Cairo McCockran, drummer with Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet-Lickers

The private instruction runs in three parts.  First, the students play a tune for the professional musicians, and the professionals give feedback on the ensemble as a whole.  Then, the pros play for the students.  Finally, each professional musician works with a student or two in some individual instruction.  The students then write a reflection about what they learned.  

Although we do offer our students private music study at Bay, I can't get that article out of my mind.  So, for the first time ever, I'm bringing some of the pros back to give some more instruction, this time for each section of the band.  I hope the students learn a lot.