Another Elephant

Please read my previous post: Elephant in the Room


I spotted another elephant today. She’s hiding; I’ll show you.

I mentioned in the previous post that these music teachers recognize the imbalance and want to change, but don’t know how. What I should have said is that they want to change and think they know how. They hired me didn’t they?

“Mr. Donnelly, please teach us how to teach jazz!”

I had one hour to teach “how to teach jazz” to music teachers who know nothing about the jazz tradition. There’s the elephant! No, not the ‘one-hour.’ I’m referring to the last part.

Let me be clearer: These teachers are not qualified to teach jazz just as I’m not qualified to teach Russian. No number of workshops will change this. No number of workshops can substitute for blood, sweat and tears.

Here’s the problem: Anything other than blood, sweat and tears is a shortcut. I don’t believe in shortcuts; they’re beside the point. Otherwise we’re resorting to teaching RCM-approved Oscar Peterson solos, jazzy versions of Pachabel’s Canon in D and other shortcuts/variations. So what can you teach them to teach that’s not a shortcut?

Deeper: If our goal is to build another room, to what degree, if any, can the new room include non-specialists?

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