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‘Vacation?!?!? What’s That?’

Jazzed Magazine • August/September 2019 • August 28, 2019

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It’ll likely come as no surprise to our readers that, of the over 500 jazz educators who participated in this survey, more than 60 percent (60.5%) report that an extended summer break in the academic year does not necessarily equal “vacation” for them. For many, preparations for the fall semester is essentially ongoing as soon as the spring semester concludes – although some do find ways to make taking a break work for them.

“My curriculum is very organic,” says Rita di Ghent of York University in Toronto, Canada. “I don’t plan until the school year starts and then I plan from week to week, depending on the goals and skill level of the student.” And, as Bob Avzaradel of Irvine (California) High School notes, “I need time to fully re-charge. I do most of my planning before I am out for school in June.”

But between private lessons, camps & workshops, prep for the fall, and independent study, the vast majority of respondents to this poll advocate for – and embody – the notion that musical scholarship is a perpetual pursuit. As well-known educator, performer, author, and former JAZZed cover-subject Bart Marantz puts it (emphatically): “VACATION??? Music and art is NEVER on VACATION!”

When do you begin planning for fall semester’s curriculum, events, et cetera?

If you have returning students from the spring semester, do you encourage them to attend jazz camps or workshops during the summer months, or do you assign summer “homework” for them to prepare for the fall semester?

“It is always beneficial for a young aspiring jazz performer to attend jazz camps and workshops during the summer. They will not only absorb extremely important knowledge from the adjudicators, but also from their peers.”
Professor T.K. Blue
JAJA Records, Jersey City, New Jersey

“I instill in my students [that] there is no ‘summer off’ for working, professional musicians.”
Andy Nevala
Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama

During the summer months, do you continue teaching – either private lessons or at camps & workshops?

“I teach at my school part-time during the summer semester, including special summer programs, continue teaching my online course, and teach at a camp in Europe for one week.”
John Baboian
Berklee College of Music
Boston, Massachusetts

“I’m happy to work camps/workshops when I get called, though that doesn’t happen every year. My students know I will work with them over the summer. All they have to do is ask. More often than not, there are a couple who will ask for something to work on.”
Danny Timmerman
Coronado High School
Lubbock, Texas

“I teach and provide coordination at different camps (jazz and pop): two in Belgium and one in Japan. I invite international teachers from the USA, France, Holland, South-Africa, and Japan during these camps. Each camp is a week-long, with instrument classes, combo teaching, theory, jam sessions, and final concerts.”
Maarten Weyler
Gent, Belgium

“I teach privately to some of my regular students who remain in town for summer school and also area high school students who are preparing for returning studies and some who are planning to attend other schools. I consider myself a community resource as well as a specific asset to my university.”
Horace Alexander Young
Washington State University
Pullman, Washington

Do you have relationships with area instrument stores who have “Back to School” sales and, if so, do you encourage your students to upgrade their instruments if possible?

“No, but it’s a great idea!”
Kris Jennings
Spring-Ford Middle School
Royersford, Pennsylvania

“I encourage them maintain their instruments in a high quality state of operation and quite often, this means getting repairs done during the summer vacation period. For those who are looking to upgrade to a better instrument or change mouthpieces or try new reeds, I do encourage them to use the summer to do so. I suggest that they visit music stores or to attend any music conferences or trade shows that occur during the summer where there are opportunities to try instruments and other products and get information directly from product specialists who are available at these kind of events.”
Horace Alexander Young
Washington State University
Pullman, Washington

“Not really, but that’s a good idea.”
Ron Bland
Denver, Colorado

“We have an Instrument Step Up Display Night in early December. The students get to try mouthpieces and instruments at school and then the music store is at parent conferences at the high school.”
Terri Svec
Buffalo Community Middle School
Buffalo, Minnesota

“Yes, we have a good relationship with the store in our town, and yes, I do encourage dedicated students to invest in an intermediate model instrument when they enter high school.”
Thomas West
Pennsylvania Leadership. Charter School
West Chester, Pennsylvania

“YES! I’ll even meet students and their parents at the store and try instruments with them!”
Preston Cummins
Sherman, Texas

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