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Michigan Boogie A2 School Of Creative Music

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To the true jazz addict, the lutisic is more than jusi somtehing to listen to to occupy your time. It is pure energy, creative energy, and ij' l may, spiritual enerfsy. The nare y m understand the nuisic, the closeryou gei to ihis energy. And the bes! way to understand it is to be able to créate it yourself. I don 't know how many times, while listening to John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, or any of the other prophets of this new spirit. I would say to tnyself "God damn, I wish I could make ntusic like tliat!" But I oever really knew how or where to go about doing it. But riten one dar. while leajing through the pages of the SUN, cante across an ad for the Ann Arbor School of Creative Musicians (AASCMj, which turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. Thc'jbllowing interview was done with "Professor" Curtís, thefounder and "Head gum " of the school. Curta has been play ing jazz for over 15 years. He has a Phd. in music front the Boston Conservator}' and plays guitar and other strings for the local jazz band, Okra. alone with Marie Himell on flute and sax. "Danny Spencer on drums, and Max Wood on bass. Ok'ra can bc sccn Mondar nights at the Golden Falcon. (For more infonnation cali Curtis at 662-8281. The AASCM is a non-profit organiza tion. ) SUN: What is the history of the school, when and how did it get started? CURTÍS: The idea probably began ten years ago, but bringing it into reality was a long time in coming. I tauglu individually, privately to people on all instruments, in pretty much the same things they're learning now. But I was doing it all by myself and I had the belief that artistic forms such as music and the visucal arts sliould be taught on a one to one basis, not classroom style, so to speak. And about three years ago. it became feasible to think in terms of getting other peole to coordínate their teaching skills with mine to take some of the load off myself, and form a school. It takes time to do that, and we've done it on a shoestring, and it's only been in effect, this school, for about a year. But it's growing fast, we have an enrollment of probably better than 60 people. SUN: What kind of programs does the school offer? CURTÍS: Most of the people in the school are studying an instrument, with one of the.instructors, in a coordinated effort. All of the instructors teach my method which stresses facility and flexibility on the instrument. Many of the students are enrolled in classes, both in theory and composition, and also many of those same students are coming to a weekly workshop that is offered. It's a jazz workshop, generally there's a full rhythm section here, allowing the students to air some of the things that they've been working on all week long, in terms of improvisation. We hope soon to have a composition workshop, which will be made up of people who are seriously writing. And that will be coordinated with a jazz ensemble that would be made up of the students interested for the purpose of playing the works that were written by the students. In some cases, mey'll be able to take part in the ensemble as well as do the writing. It seems like a very efficiënt way to get a lot of things done. And Everybody's getting experience at the same time. We have hopes of a building here on the property that would give us more space, and that all hinges on the success of the school. But it is feasible that we could have a building on the property that would house a large studio, a good size classroom, and several practice rooms, to be uscd both by the students and the faculty. Many times I hear the excuse from a student that they couldn't practice because of not having a place to practice, saxophones. work schedules, and so forth. It's difficult for people to practice, that live close by other people who have different life styles, so practice rooms would be a nice thing. It's even been suggested that we might use some audio-visual aids, beyond what's already in effect. But it's a very sincere effort to get the meat of the information across. SUN: ín your ad, you refer to "artistic spiritual guidance." What is meant by that? CURTÍS: Well it's a little undefinable, but inevitably a very important part of dealing with an art form. For instance, life style plays such a big part in their output as an artist. That discipline that's required in the music, for instance, in many cases could never exist without that same discipline existing in one's life. Many people are going in rather uncertain directions, spreading themselves too thin. Whatever I see in a person's being that is getting in the way of the music, which I consider a very spiritial thing, I attempt to adjust it, with words and suggestions. There are many people that come to me who have to get their heads straight before they could ever get the music straiit. And we work at it at both ends. SUN: Besides the school, you also play in the band. How does it feel. as a musirían, being in a community like Ann Arbor, trying to get by and play your music? CURTÍS: There's liardly enough opportunity to perform. Presently we're working Monday nigJits at the Golden Falcon, we've played at the Blind Pig, and a few other places. Unless I've missed my guess, I've managed to surround myself with really good people in the band and there's an awful lot t!iat can be done to edúcate the community. which would inevitably make it a far better place to play tor the jazz player. I'm pretty much dedicated to educating people to the arl form. l do it on the bandstand as well as with the school. Some of the things are interlaced, because many times my students are in the audience, and the repertoire of the group includes many of the things that they are working on or aspiring to as a student. And it helps to get their confidence and give them a better understanding of what the art form really is. They feel closer fo it. There's a big need for more opportunities for groups such as Okra to perform. There's some educating that needs to be done. And we have to be patiënt about it. SUN: How do you think we go about this educational process? It's no accident that jazz music has received such little exposure through the music business. How do we overeóme the situation? Curtis: It's still a matter of education. The listeners can only go by what they hear, what they've been exposed to. It's my hope that through this school, and through schools like it throughout the country, it would be possible to upgrade the musicianship of young people so that eventually jazz music will be in abundance and the people will be exposed to it, so it will be a better place to listen to music, this world. If we can make the young musicians more conscious of the tools that they're working with and should be using, then... the good writers also who remain unheard. They can come out of the woodwork, so to speak, and fill the general musical trend with really worthwhile things. Just one more thin, we do stress sincerity. There is work involved. We've abbreviated the study of music as much as possible, but we haven't been able to leave any of the work out that makes it the beautiful thing that is is. So we would like to appeal to only those who are sincere.