Letter of the Day: J
J is for Joy, my beautiful and talented little sister. She is a singer and actor and gives private voice and piano lessons. I asked if she would offer some words of inspiration for you today.
J is for Joy and Jazz.
Hi everyone. I’m Joy, Mary’s little sister that you’ve seen and heard about several times. Nice to meet you!
I am a singer and voice/piano teacher in Portland, Oregon. The name of my studio is “It’s a Joy! Music Studio.” I chose that name partly because of the play on words (I love that kind of thing), but also because I truly believe that music is a joy – even the learning part. Currently, I’m learning how to sing jazz and teach the concepts to my students.
I have a wide range of students that come to my studio on a weekly basis. They range in age from 8 to 58. Some of the older students remember the days of piano teachers that would slap their hands with rulers and music teachers that told them to mouth the words. One of my greatest pleasures is giving these people a new model of music. It is one of joy and pleasure, not grief and pain. I let them know it’s OK to experiment. It’s OK to start lessons in your 30’s, 40’s, 60’s, 80’s! I let them know I won’t cringe, laugh, or run away if they don’t hit the right note. As Miles Davis said, “There are no wrong notes.”
The younger students bring a different kind of energy to the lesson. They love to experiment. They will come in with a song that they composed over the week (often having a catchy title such as, “Joy” -how great is that?!) Also, I find that they will often make the song “fancier” than written. I point out to them how the song actually goes, we master that and then I let them play it however they choose. This is exactly what is expected of a jazz musician. The tune is learned. The first time through is true to the composer then the second time through is where the performer gets to make it his/her own.
Music really is meant to be a joy. Letting go and not being afraid to experiment is the essence of jazz. Bringing the technique together with the emotion is what I encourage in my studio. I’m always excited about new ways to achieve this. Thanks Miles!