Many years ago people would ask me "How do you teach jazz?" I would tell them that it is complicated. Although there are many components -- such as chords, licks, technique, stylistic considerations etc. -- the one critical component of jazz is that it must be played spontaneously.
Years ago when I was at the Berklee School of Music, I remember a sax player who would practice the same lick for hours every day. When the end of the term concert came, he played the same lick the same way as he had been practicing all semester long. He was very serious and he ‘got’ part of it -- that you have to be committed to practicing -- but what he missed is that you have to embrace being in the present and developing trust in your second-by-second musical instinct and intuition. You must practice change, not glorifying yesterday’s news and neutering the possibilities that only the present can bring. The magic is in the moment, actually being in the midst of living and sharing your life.
At the Bloom School we take pride in demanding the same values that the masters have put on themselves. We give musical problem-solving exercises that demand spontaneous responses. In this way students prepare for the flexibility that jazz requires.