Launch of Giant Steps Jazz Course

Launch of Giant Steps Jazz Course - "mini course" Three residential weekends and four self-study weeks Starting 28th February 2009 At the De Vere "Uplands", High Wycombe, Bucks

Thought to be the first course of its kind, the Giant Steps Jazz Course combines the best features of a weekend workshop, a residential course and a full-time music education. Open to players of all jazz instruments, the course comprises three residential weekend modules, interspersed with four self-study weeks during which players have time to absorb and practice what they've learned by completing assignments.

By the end of the very first weekend, attendees will create and record two original group compositions, producing "head" arrangements, solos and backings!

While the format of each weekend session is centred on playing, parts of each session is given over to theory and listening. One of the most important steps in musical improvement is to develop the ability to analyse and understand what you are hearing without the need for painstaking transcription. This powerful and often under-valued technique is something of a secret weapon for the improving musician, and attendees will be exposed to the process of recording and immediately evaluating what they have played.

The jazz course is aimed at beginner to intermediate level players who want to improve their ability to play and improvise jazz music. The Website even provides samples of what it means by the term Jazz!

The modules comprise a range of essential areas, including: active composing, aural perception, solo playing, section playing, jazz phraseology, essential jazz theory, the blues, "rhythm changes" and "All the Things You Are", interpretation, performance and tackling new pieces.

Event tutor and course designer Alan Cook, said "We knew we wanted to create a course which concentrated on delivering long lasting musical benefits to the attendees, and it took almost a year to work out that what was needed was a proper curriculum, one which developed each individual's ability to play jazz."

In an open letter to prospective attendees, Alan writes "I have designed this course to provide aspiring Jazz musicians like yourselves with some of the skills and knowledge required to make real progress in your quest for achievement."

He continues "…most Jazz workshops just don't have the time to do more than scratch the surface of what's needed. Giant Steps Courses have been specifically created to give aspiring Jazz musicians much greater learning opportunities than one-off workshops can provide."

By the end of the jazz course, attendees will have
- Made measurable progress in their listening and analytical abilities
- Experienced at first hand, and developed their abilities in using genre-appropriate Jazz language
- Extended their theoretical knowledge
- Created evidence of their progress by participating actively in recordings
- Developed their competence as a Jazz improviser and performer

According to event organiser Russ Lewis "Professional people have to balance work and family time with developing their own musical pursuits, so going on a single workshop is their only option. Although immensely inspiring, workshops don't allow attendees to consolidate what they've learnt, and don't allow tutors to develop a proper curriculum. The Giant Steps Jazz Course combines the best aspects of a workshop with the benefits of a full-time music education."

The course starts 28th February 2009 and will be held at the De Vere "Uplands", High Wycombe, Bucks. This course is booking now, with two of the available twelve places already sold.

About Alan Cook
Alan Cook began his musical career while at grammar school where he ran the Jazz Society and the school Jazz Quintet. In his late teens he earned his first real money playing tenor sax in a soul band, and subsequently went on to play keyboards and sax with a variety of Rock and Blues groups, including 'Trader Horne' and the band of blues slide guitar hero Mike Cooper. It was while he was with Mike that Alan played on sessions with Harry Miller, Dudu Pukwana and Mongezi Feza, noted ex-pat South African jazz musicians who played with Chris McGregor's 'Brotherhood of Breath'.

In 1974 he went to study Jazz at Leeds College of Music, graduating in 1977 with a 1st Class Diploma. During his time at LCM Alan was a member of the house band at the famous Batley Variety Club, where he learned his craft as a purely commercial musician backing the likes of Neil Sedaka, Roy Orbison and many others. In the late '70s Alan wrote for and played with the very successful Latin / Jazz outfit 'Semuta', a band that toured widely in the UK for the Ronnie Scott organisation. This entailed playing support slots at the Club with, amongst others, Earl Hines, Dick Morrisey and Art Themen.

Alan then spent 11 years working as a Master Transfer Engineer with CBS Records and Sony Music, an experience that not only provided massive opportunities to listen in detail to music of all genres, but also an introduction to both analogue and digital recording technologies. During this period Alan achieved an upper 2nd degree in Classical music studies with the OU.

In 1996 he became a Music Educator, having gained a PGCE at Oxford Brookes University. He continued to be active as a freelance musician; running workshops and composing, and winning the Composition Prize at the 2006 Leeds International Jazz Conference. He was awarded an M.Mus in Jazz Composition by Leeds University in 2007.

Alan is currently Head of Music at Oxford & Cherwell Valley College of Further Education.

Giant Steps in Music is dedicated to producing the highest quality of music education for the benefit of aspiring players, from all walks of life.

The foundation arose from, and has now taken over, the highly successful Jazz Guitar Weekend event, which has been running since 2006. The event, which runs at maximum capacity of 22 people, features world famous guitarist and TV/radio celebrity John Etheridge and Oxford-based guitarist, band-leader and promoter Pete Oxley.

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