After several great weeks of groups working together to come up with their own tunes, then sharing their works-in-progress with the rest of the band, we had our first day of co-teaching and co-learning. The first groupt to go was Auguste, Meredith, Sam, and Owen. They created a 12 bar blues that is in in 6/4 and has two measures of 3/2 on the V chord. Pretty damn hip if I do say so myself. And because they were NOT notating their music, I suspect this freedom allowed them to create something a bit more involved.
SO, they started teaching the band the melody the same way that I teach ear-tunes: note by note. They played a note (well, Owen did because he felt the most confident with the tune), and the band would noodle around until they got it. Then the next note, and so on and so forth. The students would get a few notes down and then Owen would play the melody in time and in rhythm, and the band responded. It took about 15 minutes for the band to *roughly* learn the tune, which really is no time at all. We asked Owen to play it by himself so the students could record it on their devices so they can listen to it and practice it at home. By the way, I also learned this tune WITH the students. It's important to be in that same vulnerable place that the students are in to show that we too can make mistakes and it is ok.
I shared with the students that this is a really messy, uncomfortable, and chaotic chaos, but that this is LEARNING and they are doing some pretty incredible work with this project. The rhythm section is already working on a pretty great intro for this tune to make it more interesting beyond the head chart. There are three other groups so there will be a total of four originals by the bands on our Jazz Central concert. I am not sure that I know of any other jazz band that has done something like this before.
I am still trying to figure how how we might go about notating this. When we I taught the band “Equinox” this past spring, it was all by ear, including the chord changes, and they performed it without music. I *think* we could do something similar-where they create their own lead sheets, but I am not sure yet. I will have to ask them what they think they might need. (Yes, I do ask the students their opinions and what they think might work best for them.)
I offer another look into the classroom in this video. Does it sound amazing? Well, as a proud teacher who watched this unfold in about 15 minutes, I would say so, but I am biased.
November 30th update: Wouldn't you know it-we played through the tune today and it sounded even better than this video. So what that tells me is that they either listened to the tune, listened and practiced, or it incubated over the past 24 hours and some lightbulbs went off :) Yay learning!
I was a featured guest writer for the "Getting Smart" blog and was then asked to be a part of a podcast on my work with ELL students!