Posts Tagged ‘Arts and Entertainment’


Jazz in the Education Field

September 7, 2011
Eckstein Middle School Jazz Band performing at...

Image via Wikipedia

By Alex Abbott

In today’s school systems music has become an integral part of the curriculum and a large part of school life itself.  Opportunities for students to get a good education in music are endless thanks to the help of well-developed music programs in our schools that provide plenty of instruments for students to learn on.  Not to mention that Newfoundland in general is home to some very highly skilled and experienced teachers.  Thanks to this system of resources, a child in Newfoundland can very easily get an education of applied study, music history, music theory, and many other aspects of music.  However, this marvellous education is centered almost entirely around classical, pop, or concert band music.  Other genres, like jazz, it seems have been put on the backburner or deemed unimportant in the process of getting a good musical education.  To me, this is very strange indeed.

Although classical and big band music are excellent for teaching technique, and pop music can certainly help stimulate a child`s interest in music, jazz also has many things to offer the young budding musician.  Jazz is a genre very different from any other taught in school systems as it challenges musicians in many areas and provides unique opportunities in performance.  Jazz music, no matter what style, offers a player with complex rhythms, the opportunity to learn how to work together with other musicians, and most of all the opportunity to improvise.   These are skills that often go completely undeveloped in many musicians because they have never had to deal with situations like these before, however these skills are absolutely essential for someone who wishes pursue music as a career or just as a pastime.

Complex rhythms for example are impossible to avoid once you reach a certain level of music, and often when people reach this level they face a very steep learning curve.  However if students were taught jazz from an early age, the learning curve would be almost non-existent as these skills would have been developed over many years of practise.  Not to mention that simple rhythms then would become second nature, allowing the performer to focus more on technique and musicianship.  An education of jazz rhythms, not only in ensembles but in the music curriculum in schools would also make the lives of music teachers much easier as they would not need to spend countless hours of ensemble rehearsals going over simple rhythms.  The level of performance throughout a teacher’s ensembles would be very likely to increase.

Another daunting task that musicians have to face as they progress is the ability to play with an ensemble.  No matter how talented you are and no matter how much you wish to be a solo performer, being able to work with other musicians is a skill that every musician needs to develop.  Whether you are playing in a high school band or being accompanied by a single collaborative pianist, it is essential to know how to perform with another musician.  In my opinion, jazz teaches this skill better than any other genre because of the intricate part writing which is so common in jazz music.  If every single person in a jazz ensemble is not in sync with their counterparts, the piece runs the risk of being a complete train wreck.  This forces students to learn to work together with their fellow musicians to pull off a good performance.  These skills translate very well over into everyday life as well, as the ability to trust and work together with fellow students, co-workers, etc. is essential in real life.

Finally, we come to one of the most crucial components of jazz: improvisation.  While a musician probably could get by their entire life without knowing how to improvise, it is still an incredibly valuable skill to have.  Not only does it teach musicians an understanding of key and chords, and help them think on their feet, but it is simply a lot of fun!  It is a great skill for any musician to have even if they do not plan on pursuing jazz.  Improvisation can be, and is, used in any number of mainstream styles.  It is a great tool for members of any band to have, and it can lead to some great song writing as well.

Jazz is a wonderfully unique genre of music with so many skills and opportunities to offer a young budding musician, but sadly it seems that schools and post-secondary institutions alike in Newfoundland do not see the value in this style of music.  While a lot of schools in Newfoundland do now offer jazz bands as well as a limited amount of jazz in other school ensembles, in my opinion it is still not given the recognition as a teaching tool that it deserves.  It has been my experience that some high schools for example will offer a jazz band, but will not allow students to obtain a credit for it as a course; students will only receive credit if they participate in the concert band.  This absolutely should not be the case.  Speaking personally as a saxophone player who has played in multiple concert and jazz bands, I found that my skills improved far more while playing in my high school jazz band than they did throughout many years of playing in concert bands.  A similar trend is seen even throughout post-secondary institutions.  Even though Newfoundland is home to many great jazz musicians and ensembles, it remains impossible for a musician to get a degree specializing in jazz music.  This to me is astounding, considering that our neighbours in NS have one of the best jazz programs in the country at St. Francis Xavier University.

Music is certainly ripe throughout Newfoundland and Labrador in all forms: classical, pop, rock, folk, jazz, etc. and it is certainly not hard to get an education in music in this province.  However, the merit of jazz music is still being overlooked time and time again.  Jazz is an extremely beneficial genre for musicians of any age to take up.  With the opportunity to learn so many great techniques and skills that can transfer over into real life, it would make sense for any musician no matter how old or experienced to take up jazz.  “What if you don’t have an interest in jazz?” you may ask.  Not to worry, jazz is a constantly expanding genre of music.  With so many sub-styles and branches off of jazz, there is sure to be something for everyone.

For more information on the St. FX Jazz program visit and for more information on ensemble performance in schools visit


Call for MusicNL Eligible Releases 2010/2011

August 8, 2011

DEADLINE August 31 2011 @ 4:30 PM

*Submissions must include

• Name of the artist or group

• Name of released album

• The album release date

• The album genre

*All releases submitted by email to

*Please include any online profiles the artist or group has such as website, facebook, myspace, sonicbids, etc.


Eligible artists/groups:

• Native of Newfoundland and Labrador or a resident of Newfoundland & Labrador during the eligibility period (June 1, 2010 to August 31, 2011)

• Member(s) – IN GOOD STANDING – of MusicNL

• Released a full-length recording* between JUNE 1, 2010 and AUGUST 31, 2011

*Full length recording:

• Must contain a minimum of six (6) tracks or a minimum length of thirty (30) minutes

• Half (50%) of the tracks must be original (previously unreleased) material

• Must fulfill all legal obligations (i.e. payment of mechanical rights, songwriting credits, etc.)

*Release Date:

• Proof of the date of release may be provided by artist/group through manufacturer’s invoice, retail verification, distributor or record company

Any questions don’t hesitate to contact the MusicNL office below.

Jen Winsor
Communications/Program Officer
186 Duckworth Street
St. John’s, NL
A1C 1G5
Tel: (709) 754-2574
Fax: (709) 754-5758

Sponsor or the Week – Cox & Palmer

June 21, 2011

SPONSOR OF THE WEEK: July 21, 2011

The 2011 Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival would not be possible without the support of our corporate and media sponsors.  To show our appreciation for their support, Wreckhouse Jazz & Blues (WJB) will be showcasing a different sponsor each week.  This week’s sponsor of the week is Cox & Palmer.

Cox & Palmer has been an integral part of Atlantic Canada’s business community for over a century.  Their clients look to them for legal advice during growth and prosperity, as well as in challenging economic times.  To retain their clients’ trust Cox & Palmer focuses on what matters to their clients – understanding their business.  They advise clients in many sectors including construction, energy and natural resources, insurance, financial services, public institutions, and fisheries and marine.  Their lawyers are both professional and personable. This enables their belief that a strong relationship between law firm and client is the best way to get results.

Cox & Palmer supports the arts all across Newfoundland and Labrador.  They are presenting Opera on the Avalon’s Dido and Aeneas from June 16-19 at the LSPU Hall. The firm also welcomes local and international musicians to the Masonic Temple stage during the 10th Annual Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues Festival July 13-16.  Cox & Palmer will also be a major sponsor of The Messiah by the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, The St. John’s International Women’s Film and Video Festival, and the Resource Centre for the Arts. Special awards for emerging artists will then be announced later this year at the Sparks Literary Festival and St. Michael’s Print Shop.

WJB would like to acknowledge and express gratitude for the contributions of Cox & Palmer, the Sponsor of the Week!


Music’s Effects on The Brain and Learning

June 16, 2011

Image by flyzipper via Flickr

By Jonathan Hicks

“If you get in music in school you’ll make more friends and it’ll make you smarter!” Most of us have heard that at some point in our lives haven’t we? But is it really true? Will music actually make you smarter? Does it actually have an effect on how your brain works?

The simple answer is yes, it does have an effect on the brain. Studies show that even from a young age listening to and being involved with music will result in a child having a higher IQ than a child who is not exposed to music on a regular basis. Although this may seem far-fetched, in reality it is quite truthful. Even at a young age learning music makes a child use a great amount of brain power. Learning how to read rhythms and pitches is not an easy task for a young child and putting the two together to read both at the same time is even harder! If you think about the amount of thought and brain power a 5 or 6 year old child has to use in order to learn their first piano piece (or learning to play with TWO hands) you will surely agree that this has to make them smarter in the long run. At such a young age, learning to make your brain tell your fingers what do while reading notes off a page is a great feat. In fact The New York Times states that a significant amount of study on a particular musical instrument can cause an enlargement of the Cerebral Cortex (a part of the brain “associated with higher brain Function”).

It is also quite true that music has a profound effect one’s memory. If you think about it quite simply you will realize the memory capacity needed to be a successful musician is not by any means small. A musician is forced to remember an extensive number of things in order to be able to even play music properly; everything from note names and durations, fingerings, dynamics and tempo markings. Even then a musician is sometimes required to memorize full pieces of music for specific performances. In a case such as this the musician has to memorize all the aspects previously listed in an exact way pertaining to the piece they are required to play.

Along with memory, music can have a very positive effect on the brain’s ability to have a quick reaction time. This ability is achieved by the daunting, hated task of sight-reading. Sight-reading is an aspect of music education that takes a long time to conquer and which I, along with some of my fellow musicians still struggle with from time to time. Although many musicians find this hard it is an essential skill to have and undoubtedly this skill alone would do wonders for the development of one’s brain. The ability to look at a brand new piece of music and play it right away takes a tremendous amount of concentration and dedication to learning this skill.

Music is also used in the medical world to stimulate the brain. In the case of some Alzheimer patients music can be used to stimulate the brain in order to bring back lost memories. It was also proven that by subjecting Alzheimer patients to music therapy it caused a secretion of the hormone melatonin which helped calm even the patients who were hard to deal with. Jane Vail states that “Music therapy might be a safer and more effective alternative to many psychotropic medications. Like meditation and yoga, it can help us maintain our hormonal and emotional balance, even during periods of stress or disease.”

Personally, after having a very serious brain tumour at the age of ten I was faced with a hard task of getting back to school. Before returning home from Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital both myself and my parents were told that I may not be able to perform well in school and that due to the effects the tumour had left me with, I may not have be able to continue playing drums well because I would not be able to use my motor skills as well as I used to. When I got home I was determined not to lose music from my life so I started to relearn how to play drums. Both my parents and I very strongly believe that if it wasn’t for music I most likely would not have recovered as quickly as I did and I probably would not have had the ability to learn and get back into my routine at school as easily. Basically, if it wasn’t for music I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Music continues to be a very important part of my education as I am completing a Bachelor in Music Degree at MUN’s school of music.

I strongly believe that music is a great learning tool and that by involving children (or anyone) in music we are giving them the opportunity to broaden their minds and their education. Not only will music give a child or adult the opportunity to become smarter and increase their brain function but it also provides an individual with an amazing sense of accomplishment. Believe me when you finish a challenging piece, whether it be a level one piano piece or a piece you are preparing for an audition, you will feel so good about yourself (this is the case no matter if you are 4 years old or 40!). Music is an outstanding, fun way to broaden your horizons, increase your brain function, relieve your stress and have fun while doing it!

Related websites:


2011 Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival Volunteer Rally!

June 14, 2011

From July 13-16, 2011 the Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival will celebrate its 10th birthday by bringing four days of great jazz, blues and world music to fans in Newfoundland & Labrador.

WJB is thrilled to announce its Volunteer Rally, where any and all persons interested in volunteering at the upcoming 2011 Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival can sign up to volunteer at their favorite Festival events!

The Volunteer Rally will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Swilers Rugby Football Club on Thursday, June 23rd.  The Swilers Club is located at 100 Crosbie Road.

At the rally there will be sign-up sheets for the volunteer positions at each of the concerts scheduled to take place during the 2011 Festival, which runs from July 13-16.  It’s first come, first serve, and the positions will likely fill up quick!  You can check out the full Festival schedule and lineup here.  There will also be information about Festival venues as well as volunteer policies and procedures.

If you would like more information about the WJB volunteer program you can visit the volunteer page of our website or contact Marketing & Operations Manager Ben Waring via telephone (739-7734) or email (

And if you do attend, bring a friend!  As the Festival grows, so does the need for new volunteers.

Hope to see you out there on June 23rd!



June 1, 2011

St. John’s, NL – May 31st, 2011 – As the summer is fast approaching, Wreckhouse Jazz & Blues (WJB) is preparing to announce the artist lineup for the 10th annual Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival (WIJBF). Executive Director Liz Dunbar will be releasing the highly anticipated lineup on Wednesday, June 8th at 10:30am at the Rocket Bakery on Water Street. She is extremely excited to reveal to the public all of the details regarding this year’s festival taking place from July 13th – 16th as once again downtown St. John’s will be flooded with the rhythms and sounds of different styles of music from all across the globe.

In what is sure to be the most exciting year yet for the festival, Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues gives the people of St. John’s a unique opportunity to experience music and culture from all around the world during 4 jam packed days of concerts, workshops, and events. Since the festival began in 2001 it has grown exponentially in size and numbers, having an increase in audience of almost 400% in previous years. In this milestone year, the WIJBF promises to be the biggest event on the St. John’s Arts and Entertainment scene in 2011!

This year’s festival is sure to have a wider variety of international music than ever before, adding to the musical diversity in St. John’s. Featuring over 100 internationally acclaimed artists and the best talent Newfoundland has to offer, the 10th annual Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival is sure to be one to remember.

Come join WJB on June 8th at 10:30am at the Rocket Bakery for some fantastic live entertainment as the exciting lineup for the 2011 Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival is announced, running from July 13th – 16th in downtown St. John’s.

To keep up to date with the latest festival details, check out WJB on our website,  facebook, twitter, myspace, and wordpress.


For more information please contact:
Ben Waring at 709-739-7734


The Nickel Gets Jazzed & the Jazz Festival Gets Framed

June 1, 2011

6th Annual Super 8 Series co-presented by the Nickel Film Festival,

Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival


Canadian Federation of Musicians – Local 820

(Newfoundland and Labrador Musicians’ Association)

During the 2011 Nickel Film Festival, filmmaker Roger Maunder will facilitate a workshop on Super 8 film-making for the festival’s annual film series that brings together filmmakers and musicians. The end result will be a screening of three original films with a live-recorded performance by musicians at the 10th annual Wreckhouse International Jazz and Blues Festival, as well as a screening of the film with sound the following year at the Nickel Film Festival.

How it works

Composers are invited to apply to participate in this program. One composer has already been selected. Two more will be chosen by a selection committee of the provincial musicians’ association.

On Tuesday June 17, three filmmakers will be chosen to create Super 8 films.

The three musicians will each be matched with a filmmaker at the workshop facilitated by Roger Maunder on June 21, from 1-3pm. Participating composers must be available to attend this workshop.

Once paired up, the composer and filmmaker collaborate on an idea for a short film. The filmmaker will be supplied with a camera and 3 minutes of Super 8 film for a one-day shoot during the festival. The film is edited in camera. It is then processed and the composer will be given a copy of the film to compose music. The composer will have 24 hours to complete the music and get it ready for a live-recorded performance during the Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues Festival. The musical performance will be recorded and then combined with the film. The Nickel Film Festival will screen the result the following year at their festival.

To qualify

To qualify for this project, filmmakers must have had a film screened at a past or the current Nickel Film Festival.

To qualify as a composer, you should have experience composing music for film as well as confidence and ease performing in an improvised manner. You must also be a current member of CFM 820 or a performer at this year’s Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues Festival. A selection committee has been formed by our association’s Executive Board to assess the submissions.

If you wish to apply, please submit a sample of your musical work and your artist bio OR an EPK OR a website address that includes a musical sample + bio.

Deadline for submissions is Monday June 6, 2011.


Should you have any questions, please contact Rozalind MacPhail at the Canadian Federation of Musicians – Local 820:

The office phone number is 709-722-8005 and Roz’s email is:

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