The Nelly Berman School offers a class and ensemble to provide students of all levels with the opportunity to learn the practical and theoretical aspects of playing jazz. Improvisation is at the heart of this genre, a genre that has been a part of American music for more than a century. Special attention will be given to an understanding of the harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic underpinnings of jazz as well as the structural norms of the music. In addition, listening — both to recordings and live performances — is a central component of this class; the best way to learn to play jazz is by listening to those that have done and continue to do it best. This class fosters a love of jazz — one that is rooted in the knowledge of how the music works and continues to thrive in the 21st century. Each student will walk away from this class with a stronger understanding and appreciation for what makes jazz music a singular and important innovation in American music.
For ages 10 and older, by audition. Students will learn the scales, chords, rhythms, and melodies widely used in jazz. Students will play individually, helping them learn the specific techniques required for executing jazz articulation and phrasing, and collectively, building up to an ensemble that will perform a wide variety of jazz classics. Instruments included are, but not limited to: piano, saxophone, trumpet, bass, drums, trombone, flute, violin, and voice. Since this class will focus on improvisation in addition to learning the repertoire, instrumentalists will practice soloing in the jazz style, while vocalists will sing lyrics from jazz standards and also learn to scat. Pianists will learn how to read chords from a lead sheet, and the entire rhythm section will provide the musical foundation for the ensemble’s riffs and explorations.