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{08/25/2008}   Hello!

Who am I? For the moment, a jazz piano student at the Brest Music School, in France (they say it will become a Conservatory soon – I don’t know). I started jazz two years ago, meaning I had stuided classical piano only, had never improvised until then. So, two years of jazz (especially when you start pretty late) is not a lot. It’s almost nothing, when you are not a full-time musician.

What does jazz piano mean for a French music school?
Well… as I understood there are different schools and hence, different methods.

Standard jazz schools Most of the schools focus on working out jazz standards. You take for example major jazz tunes and analyze the structure, harmony, and then decypher the solos. Some schools (as the Paris jazz school) also have harmony and theory courses where you work intervals, chords, scales, etc. There are several other courses like phrasing, jazz history, harmony, etc which you can follow. One imprtant thing in Paris is that (they say) teachers are performing artists, so they know how to play stuff, not just to explain how to play stuff.

Brest music school is quite different. It was started several years ago, by Frederic Barjeon Briet, ex-musician, bass player. Thank you, Fred! Now several teachers are involved, I will talk about everyone in due time.

As for organization, there are three big bands (with three different levels: beginners, intermediate and advanced players). I was in the big-band for beginners two years ago. To be short, most of the work was ear training and basic jazz and blues standards. It’s a good practice when you are a novice, as you can get used with the spirit pretty fast while playing, and you get used to playing what you hear (I call it what you hear is what you get WYHIWYG – as in html…). In parallel, we had… group works where we worked specific standards in a smaller formule (5,6 people) and at the same time went through some basic tehory. Last year I only made a small group (sextet) weekly course, which was more intensive where we worked standards. And also a quartet with other students.

But why is this school different? There is a lot of group/band work as opposed to schools that pay attention to theory, harmony, etc. We do that, too, but the main idea is to play. So, this year we will have improvisation sessions once/week (I hope I survive) with a given list of standards…

What I can say after two years is simple… wouldn’t have known anything without school guidance, BUT if you don’t work alone it’s not worth a dime… I will talk about work a little later. But this was my conclusion, as with anything in life I guess. Want to evolve, work, hard, harder than anyone else.

This is for starters. I will try to post something later on today. And start detailing what and most important how we/I worked stuff.

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