Course notes

27th February 2004 at 00:00
Joanna Estall, head of woodwind at Hampton school in Richmond, is all ears when it comes to teaching jazz.

Course Teach to Reach Jazz (grade 1).

Provider Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (

Venue ABRSM, London.

Cost pound;50, paid myself.

How did you find out about it?

From board publicity.

Why go?

I'm completely classically trained, but I largely teach teenage boys, and they think jazz is cool. So I wanted to respond, to find a way of stimulating them.

What did it promise?

An introduction to the new jazz syllabus and some ideas for getting started with jazz.

Did it deliver?

It was inspirational; 35 mature people swinging their bodies, clapping, beating out rhythms. There was plenty of discussion time, as well as practical exercises and answers to some basic questions.

Highs and lows The highlight was being absorbed into a whole new style of playing. It was scary but fun learning to improvise, exploring rhythm, feeling the pulse, and translating that into sound. I would have liked smaller groups with more individual attention. And it seemed a bit overpriced.

Message, motto or mantra Jazz is an aural skill. You've got to trustyour ears.

Best advice We learned pieces by ear in short sections, and experimented by clapping out different rhythms or trying to fit words to different beats. When we finally looked at the written music, it looked daunting. It was much easier to learn our way.

Has it made a difference?

I feel confident in creating a framework now for teaching basic jazz. I've got a lot more ideas, and I'm enthusiastic to have a go.

Coming your way?

The ABRSM 2003-04 programme runs jazz courses across the UK until June.

More courses next year. Contact 020 7467 8226 for details.

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