The Metro-Detroit Jazz Workshop, now in its 9th year, is back, bigger and better than ever.
The MDJW, created in 2008, is a week-long day workshop in July desgined to teach jazz to anyone interested, no matter the age, background, experience, or instrument. Through classes in jazz theory, composition, improvisation to master-classes from guest-clinicians, students receive a well-rounded, fun, education in jazz. Besides the classroom learning, students play and rehearse in combos, designed to teach teamwork. As performers and educators, the faculty and myself strongly believe in the need to pass along the tradition of jazz, while at the same time, encourage creativity and free expression, helping students move forward to a point where they can achieve the goals that they set for themselves. Whether these goals are modest or they want to push themselves to the highest level of instrumental or vocal mastery in jazz (or somewhere in between), the faculty and students pursue and explore possibilities, and enjoying themselves in the process.
Our 8th annual workshop in 2016 was an incredible step forward!
We had a great student group ranging from professional musicians to young amateurs. More importantly, the quality of the education increased with the addition of mentors. These mentors are musicians, mostly stand-out jazz-studies majors in local universities. They assisted faculty and students in clinics, classes, and combos, showing leadership through their playing ability, humility, and knowledge of jazz. Many mentors will be back, while new ones will also be joining the fold.
Our guest artists, Rob Smith of Central Michigan University, Rayse Biggs, and Andrew Bishop of University of Michigan, all conducted great master-classes for the students.
2016 marked the third year of the middle-school workshop. Jordan Schug and John Hill conducted combos, taught classes, and gave great beginning instruction to students to prepare them for their middle and high school jazz bands and get them started on good habits to become better musicians. With a combination of kids, some brand new to jazz, and ones who knew a thing or two, we put together, a great camp. I'm looking forward to 2017's middle school session.
For the fourth year, we conducted the Composer's Workshop within the main MDJW. Advanced jazz students and beginning composers met every morning for a couple hours within the general High School/Adult workshop. They did so, mainly to work through their compositions as a group, accepting advice from myself, and their fellow students. All of the works were played by the composition rehearsal group and discussed thoroughly in hopes to improve or kickstart their journey in composing. This rehearsal was supplemented with classes in arranging, reharmonization, orchestration, and analysis.
"A new location!"
The MDJW, for the first time will be held at the Michigan State University's Detroit Center. Located downtown, on Woodward, our 2017 location puts us in a great spot for everyone in the community. We are now in the cultural center, next to the Bonstelle Theatre and a couple blocks from Orchestra Hall.
Besides a student/faculty jam session at Cliff Bells on Tuesday night (Session I), the students got a chance to perform for family and friends on the Sunday after the workshop at the great jazz club, Cliff Bells. In a packed house, students performed with the combos they rehearsed with during the week. It was great to meet afterward with families, and confirm my suspicions why the students at the workshop were so motivated. This concert alone gives me enough inspiration to keep moving forward with the Metro-Detroit Jazz Workshop. 2017 will be even better!