The UNC Summer Jazz Workshop continues to grow, encouraging its organizers even as it presents new challenges.
The week-long program, which ends Friday, features daily instruction for students from UNC jazz faculty and guest musicians, as well as nightly concerts.
Stephen Anderson, a music professor and director of the workshop, said the program has grown from 40 students in its first year to 79 this summer, the program’s third year.
Anderson said the program’s growth presented issues in working with students.
“It’s just a matter of knowing how to work with them according to their individual needs,” he said. “And as we get bigger, to keep it personal — that’s a challenge.”
But he also said he is pleased by the large number of students who want to learn about jazz.
“The final concert is beautiful,” he said. “The last year, we completely packed in the large rehearsal room.”
He said the quality of the instructors and their credibility as musicians was likely a factor in attracting people to the workshop.
“(Participants) can play with the faculty, and I think that’s exciting to them,” Anderson said.
Anderson said the application process is not designed to be highly rigorous, but to make sure students aren’t too young or inexperienced.
“If they have no musical experience, we can’t really do anything,” he said. “They have to have played in a group and know what they’re doing — there’s some assumed knowledge when we get them.”
Jared Goldman, a ninth-grade alto saxophonist from Enloe High School, said the workshop offers a more theoretical base than his normal jazz instruction.
“Usually we do more hands-on playing, but this is a lot more fundamental,” he said.
“I really like learning a lot of chord theory because I feel like it’s really helpful for me as a musician and an improviser.”
Chad Eby, a guest instructor from UNC-Greensboro, said he wanted to teach students how to listen to jazz.
“Jazz fundamentally is an aurally taught art form,” he said. “Anything we tell them about writing things out, it’s got to be contextualized with how they hear it.”
Eby said he’s encouraged by the number of students who want to learn about jazz, but he’s disappointed in audience interest levels at times.
“It’s great that there are so many people that love it, but we need to continue to figure out ways that we can draw the audience in,” he said.
Anderson said he’s been happy with the results of the workshop so far.
“We’re just excited about it,” he said. “It keeps growing. The kids are doing great.”
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