At this stage of the DYJO season (today was the seventh of our eight Gathering Days in the year), with most of the repertoire ‘in the book’, it gives us the chance to be a bit more creative in our session planning, especially as some of the ‘regular learning’ now transfers into the more frequent gigs (recent gigs at Malborough and Beverley Park, and forthcoming ones at South Brent and Budleigh Jazz Festival).
Today we really mixed things up: we had the full team of tutors there – Graham & me, and Alex Delling, Matt Carter, and Ben Lee (making a special appearance as he and the Ambassadors were going straight on to a gig in Totnes). One of the delightful things about DYJO is the appetite of all the players to learn, and whatever we lay on for them educationally, they trust us to deliver something it’s worth tuning into. The evidence is the attention they give all of us, whatever we are lobbing in their direction: today they were served a mixed dish (if you’ll excuse the image of lobbing mixed dishes) of: extended aural work on degrees of the scale and call-&-echo; big band ensemble-work; learning a whole II-V-I AABA tune (complete with chords) by ear; improvising over II-V-I changes; learning a new tune amongst themselves, with no tutor input. It quite tires me out just thinking of that amount of ‘stuff’, but the DYJO crowd just seem to take it in their stride!
Of course, we know that we can only provide a small part of their jazz education, but if we can both give them the appetite to learn, and the tools for them to continue doing so both within and outside of DYJO, there really will be no stopping them!