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We've been preparing for our bi-annual showcase and recital all this week. It gives students a chance to show off what they've worked hard to accomplish. Some play along with backing tracks and others are solo performers with new material or a polished cover. This year we've been able to put together a small jazz ensemble in hopes of broadening the musical horizons of our current students as well as keeping an American art form alive in the youth. We had a rehearsal last night and it was the first time the students had met each other, let alone performed as a group. We ran the song a few times and let me tell you how it is always a wonderful feeling to see new musicians really come in to their own. They played like seasoned performers and took what small directions the instructors had to heart. They truly demonstrated the attitude it takes to be a part of a team working towards a common goal!

After the rehearsal ended, the singer expressed concern about coming in at the right times. She told me that she had been watching my changes (on the bass) and cueing accordingly but was worried for the day of the performance. I told her that she had nothing to worry about; we were performing the song in a manner where we had a recording to reference, she had a great feel for the song, and natural talent! Cues for the band can rely heavily on the vocalists lyrics, so placement can be risky. However, with jazz being rather forgiving in that respect, vocal rhythms can be to the performer's taste.

Cues can be pulled from many different sources but your best bet is to listen to recordings of the song that you're performing. For Jazz, many pieces have "heads" or the melody. Certain forms that can be familiarized by reading through it many, many times. Drummers can also help with cues with fills and crescendos in places of transition!

We came to the conclusion that I would sit closer to the front of the stage so that we could make eye contact when big changes or long periods of rest were prevalent. Eye contact in ensembles is key, as it creates a line of communication that cannot be vocalized. This would help with cues for the entire band as well. Overall, I knew she had nothing to worry about but "when in doubt, listen, listen, listen!"

Matt Burk Music Studio creates an atmosphere where private music lessons meet performances with real world applications. We offer customized instruction for piano, guitar, drums, bass, voice, songwriting, and audio production. Matt Burk Music Studio: Learn, Create, Perform!