14 April 2014

Jazz Education Review: Brighton Jazz Education Conference 2014

Brighton Jazz Education Conference

The Verdict, Brighton

Saturday 12th April 2014


    Brighton Jazz School’s Wayne McConnell began the inaugural Brighton Jazz Education Conference with a talk on the subject of ‘Jazz and Community’ and the idea of ‘communities of practice’.

    You can read more about this in Wayne’s monthly column, below.

    A highly animated Terry Pack gave a fun and interesting workshop-style presentation putting attendees into small groups and asking them to think of the first line from a novel, film or poem. Groups were then asked to add rhythm to their phrases, before turning it into a short melody.

    On the surface this seemed like a composer’s workshop but it became clear that the exercise was designed to help students improve their soloing and tell stories in their solos.


“The fear of playing the wrong note holds people back”


“Good improvisation is compositional in nature”

Saxophonist Julian Nicholas discussed how young people discover jazz and he linked this in with his own experiences growing up, together with his own extensive experience as a teacher. He also discussed how he sees jazz educators as those who can help demystify the process of jazz improvisation.

Pianist Terry Seabrook talked about teaching jazz to young people, the influence of the late Eddie Harvey and looked at the Associated Board jazz grades, showing impressive videos of young students playing pieces from jazz piano grades 1 and 2.

    In the second part of his presentation, he looked at different models of effective practise routines and the different ways in which they can be implemented.

    Following an impressive lunch (provided by John Easterby at The Verdict), vocalist Lou Beckerman discussed her work as a healthcare practitioner.

    Examining performance anxiety, she related many of her own experiences as a performer and gave practical demonstrations to attendees to improve their breathing and posture.

    Baritone saxophonist Anna Jordanous gave her take on women in jazz by examining the jazz scene in Sussex and looking at how many women were involved in local big bands and asking how many female instrumentalists perform at venues such as The Verdict (answer: Katy O’Neill).

    Anna also looked at how many women instrumentalists teach at the top conservatoires  in the UK (answer: Nikki Iles).

    Due to time constraints, Chichester University’s Nick Reynolds could only give a brief summary of his presentation ‘Re­awakening the spiritual and ethical dimensions of jazz in education’ at the end of a successful conference that is sure to become a regular fixture in the Brighton jazz calendar.

    Overall, the conference was both entertaining and interesting both for education professionals and students. A wide breadth of topics were discussed and it’s certain that future conferences will cover specific areas in more detail.

    More details can be found here.


Charlie Anderson

[Photo by Mike Guest]

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