T.K. Blue workshops - Geared for K through 12

  1. TRADITIONAL AFRICAN INSTRUMENTS WITH FOCUS ON THE AFRICAN PIANO CALLED "THE KALIMBA" (SOLO)
    • Discuss the four categories of traditional African Instruments
      • areophones - instruments using air to produce a sound
      • membranophones - instruments using skins to produce a sound
      • idiophones - instruments that vibrate in order to produce a sound
      • chordophones - instruments using strings to produce a sound
    • Example of each category are discussed using pictures, video, audio and actual instruments.
    • Focus on the African hand piano
      • a/k/a kalimba, mbira, sanza and lukembi
      • actual performance of this instrument
      • the role of this instrument in a group
      • the use of this instrument by storytellers or griots
      • actual construction of the kalimba using some basic materials
  1. THE DIFFERENT STYLES OF JAZZ (FOR GROUP)
    • Discuss a general overview of various styles of jazz performance.
    • Categories:
      • early jazz - Dixieland
      • ragtime
      • blues
      • swing
      • bebop
      • latin (Afro Cuban Brazilian style)
      • modal
      • avant-garde
      • jazz fusion/funk/rock
    • Play and discuss each style. Compare the differenced of each style. Discuss major innovators of each style.
  1. JAZZ IMPROVISATION (SOLO OR GROUP)
    • What is improvisation?
    • Explore the development and styles of improvisation
    • Discuss scales, chords, chord progression, harmony and melodic approach to soloing.
    • II V l chord progression is analyzed
    • Soloing across ll V l changes using various sequences
    • The use of 7th scale and modes
    • Students create their own ll V l sequences and use them as a basis for improvisations
  1. THE ROLE OF EACH INSTRUMENT IN A JAZZ BAND (FOR GROUP) WITH VOCALIST
    • What is a jazz band?
    • What are the traditional combination of instruments
      • duo
      • trio
      • quartet
      • quintet
    • The role of the vocalist
      • brief history of jazz vocalists
      • scat singing
      • ballads
      • accompanying a vocalist
    • Interaction of band members during performance
    • Trading fours, call and response, shout chorus, vamps, beginning and endings, (introductions and codas) group improvisation, supporting the soloist
    • Building a relationship with the audience
    • Big bands, a brief history and analysis
  1. BLUES WORKSHOP - INSTRUMENTAL
    • Concentration on instrumental styles
    • Starting with early styles of piano-playing with emphasis on the Blues, Ragtime, Stride, Boogie-Woogie
    • Swing That Blues taking a simple riff (C-Jam Blues by Ellington) and developing a melody and improvisation
    • Bop the Blues - Dizzy, Bird, Monk, their impact and stylistic development of blues playing. The melodic, harmonic and rhythmic complexity that becomes Bebop is deeply rooted in the Blues
    • Some of the tunes performed: Blue Monk, Now’s the Time, Billie's Bounce, Parker’s Mood, etc.
    • End with a tune by B. B. King, Johnny Copeland or others
    • This demonstrates the enduring impact the Blues has on humanity
  1. BLUES WORKSHOP - VOCAL
    • Concentration on the vocal tradition
    • Starting in Africa and sprouting in early America as witnessed in the early slave work songs of the south and early “Negro Spirituals”
    • Several early Blues singers will be discussed and some of their repertoire will be performed. Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Etta James, Joe Williams, Ethel Waters, B. B. King, etc.
    • Some of the repertoire to be performed: It Ain’t Nobody’s Business, Down Home Blues, Fine and Mellow, All Right, OK You Win, I’m In Love With You, City Called Heaven, Never Make Your Move Too Soon, God Bless the Child, Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
    • Question-Answer Period
    • Ending with audience participation on the Blues, call and response, etc.
  1. WORKSHOPS ON JAZZ PERFORMANCE IN BIG BAND AND SMALL ENSEMBLE - For High School Band Directors

    T.K.Blue - international jazz educator, recording and performing artist topics covering big band performance:

    1. COMMUNICATION
      It is very important to have good communication skills. There is no need to shout. Try to create a good relaxed atmosphere. Convey your idea by example (play or sing a phrase for the students as opposed to explaining it).
    2. TUNING
      Make sure everyone is aware of tuning their instrument to a common pitch. (usually A-440)
    3. SECTION LEADERS
      Make sure all members are aware of their section leaders which are generally the first alto ,first trumpet ,and first trombone in each section.The section leaders are responsible for shaping their sections ,phrasing particular passages , making sure their section is aware of particular dynamic markings , and in general being a bridge between the sections and the band director.
    4. DYNAMICS
      Dynamics are very important and crucial to the overall sound of any band. Make sure your students are aware of the different dynamic markings and how to execute these differences. In general background parts behind a soloist should be played softly while soli and unison sections can be played with more volume.Everyone in their particular section should be able to hear their entire section ,especially the lead player. If they can′t ,it′s usually because they are playing too loud.
    5. BALANCE AND BLENDING
      It is always desirable to have a good balance in the band. Everyone should try to blend together and sound as if they are one instrument!!! No one should be so over-powering that you cannot hear the other players.
    6. RHYTHM SECTION
      It is crucial that you have a good rhythm section. The piano ,bass ,and drums should play like a team. The tempos and rhythms should be consistent and steady.
    7. INTERPRETATION
      It is advisable to discuss the piece of music… the title… what does it represent?… what is the best tempo?… What are the lyrics?
    8. POSTURE
      Have your students sitting or standing correctly. Try to not let your students slump downward while playing and to keep their instruments elevated. This will help with execution and breathing.
    9. IMPROVISATION
      The essence of Jazz Artistry is to be able to express your feelings and emotions spontaneously through your instrument. For those students who will explore the improvisational terrain, make sure they understand the chord sequence and harmonic movement. They should have a basic understanding of scales (all major, minor, augmented, and diminished). Also seventh scales, triads, and chords should be studied. It would be advisable to have some basic I-V-I exercises available for practice. Having a great band that executes efficiently but produces poor soloist is the same as wearing a thousand dollar suit with a ten-dollar tie!
    10. LISTENING
      I cannot overemphasize enough the importance of listening to jazz. Many students perform in a high school jazz band, but never listen to jazz music on their spare time. I suggest paying particular attention to the original recording of the songs you will perform. Jazz is a language and listening with imitation enhances a student′s grow. It also solidifies the emotional content needed to improvise as students hear exactly how the masters performed a precise piece of music.