Last Tuesday, I got to run up to New York for a bit to take a professional development course on teaching economics. I’m always at a loss of how to make econ easier, so it was a great way to get some new ideas that are actually fun and informative. I hate lecture! Looking forward to teaching the new year as a result. It will be fun! After the PD, I visited with my good friend Miki for a bit. Walked through Times Square and just loved it. The evening started out with a Barry Harris masterclass. The most amazing thing about the whole experience was watching how hungry the other students were. I was surprised at the diversity of ages – I thought it would mostly be younger cats, but it was all ages, to include seniors just learning to play. Mr. Harris teaches a piano class first, where he plays something and then everyone (like 25 people) get up to the piano and try their hand at it. Takes forever but is informative and everyone was videotaping. Then came the singing lesson. He calls it ear training, but it’s more like karaoke, but with the same song over and over and over again. At first I was enjoying it because the song was difficult, and we all sang along, but when everyone got up to the mic individually it went a little long. As a result the instrumental lesson was only 22 minutes. However, there was more packed in that 22 minutes than all my college years combined, in some ways. He taught the way jazz should be taught, with the master singing and everyone imitating on their instruments. He started us off with scales (which, by the way, I wasn’t used to playing so fast, he does sixteenth notes at 240), to progress to patterns which he then strung together for sentences. Why isn’t everyone teaching this way? There should be a Barry Harris class at every college and university. I recorded it on my phone and am slowing making my way through each night. I had difficulty understanding him sometimes, especially the difference between E and D and B, so it’s helpful to have the recording to go back to. That’s not all, though, I found myself at Zinc Bar to see Tivon Pennicott, and then Smalls which was alive and industrious. Met many new jazzers and was elated to see Laurence Leathers again! He was a freshman at MSU while I was a grad student. So many years ago. And now he’s famous, plays with everyone. Then, on Wednesday morning, I got to hang with Lynn Gruenewald, alto sax and flute player from MSU. I got to meet her beautiful dog Remo and catch up on life and happiness. She was actually looking after Ingred Jensen’s daughter (there was a Darcy James Argue rehearsal) so I got to see Ingred and family as well. Her daughter is so smart! I couldn’t believe how well she listened and how interactive and verbal she was. And so there it is! I’m back again in NY this week as well to get some more Professional Development, and to see more jazz. I’ll also be conducting interviews for my podcast, yay! I’m writing this post as a test for this website, but it’s also fun to review the 24 hours of craziness that was New York last week. Looking forward to more jazz!
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