Zeswitz Symposium!

Thanks to Bret, Randy, the Toms and everyone who worked so hard to make the 4th Annual Zeswitz Symposium a great Professional Development opportunity for music educators in Pennsylvania!

I gave my "No Rules, No Fear Jazz" talk to an appreciative and cooperative group of teachers who stayed inside on a beautiful June Saturday.

Here's what they came up with when we talked about our four big questions:

What rules about jazz are you looking for permission to break?

I don’t have rules.

There are rules in jazz? (string player)

“Standard Instrumentation”

Percussion!! Drumset standards?

Instruments allowed in a jazz ensemble


Notes outside the chord that work

Have to program a swing piece


What rules must we keep for it to still be considered jazz?

Have fun!

“The scale”


Ensemble sound

It has to swing?




No idea


What is your biggest fear about teaching jazz?

Students don’t have the confidence in themselves

Relaxing to the point of passing out

Not able to explain what I do

Not able to help students’ fear of playing

Rhythm section

I’m not a strong jazz player. I haven’t had a lot of experience in jazz.

Teaching improv

Kids don’t want to solo


Is it true to the jazz idiom?

Setting a good/authentic example for students

Teaching = bad


What is your biggest fear about playing jazz yourself?

No experience in jazz improvisation

Improv that makes sense

Getting lost in changes

Lost in fast chord changes

It’s so fast and virtuosic...which I’m not.

Not sounding creative enough



Setting a good example for students

Exposed to pros


These are all great thoughts, some of which we're already addressing here, and some I hope to get to in future blog posts and articles. Thanks again, everyone for a great day!

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