Not sure if this should go under General Discussion or someplace else; hopefully Hayden will move it to the best place!
A while back I shared my audition tape for a 1 week “piano intensive” course at the Stanford Jazz Workshop, and thought I would share my experience and impressions/recommendations (thanks for the motivation @scott1)
Background: SJW has been around for 50 years, mainly as a summer camp for kids 10-17. More recently, they’ve accepted adults into their week-long “jazz institute” for “adults and advanced teens with at least 18 months playing experience…instrumentalists work in combos”. And, just this year, they simultaneously offered a “piano intensive” course for adults for the first time. I was excited about the opportunity, in part because I wanted to play more in a combo or trio setting, and in part because the piano intensive course was run by Jeremy Siskind, who’s an outstanding teacher and pianist.
The schedule runs from 9am - midnight, with a selection of courses (e.g. theory, jazz voicings, becoming a pro, diversity in music) and masterclasses in the morning, combo practice in the afternoon, and faculty concerts and jam sessions in the evening.
There were about 180 students in the “jazz institute” portion–mostly high schoolers plus a handful of adults, and they were organized into combos according to ability, paired with a faculty member to work together all week. There were 16 “piano intensive” students who spent every afternoon working with Jeremy and Edward Simon, so a ratio of 8:1. Also, two gigging pros, Mike Mitchell (drums) and Tomoko Funaki (bass) worked with each of us in a trio setting. There was a recital on the afternoon of the last day (5 venues x ~2 hrs to get everyone in).
(1) I got to meet and listen to some amazing musicians who were on the faculty: Taylor Eigisti, Patrice Rushen, George Cables, Harold Lopez-Nussa, Jenny Xu, Terrell Stafford, just to name a few. In fact, one of my regrets is that I missed some of the evening concerts–in hindsight I think one of the best aspects of the opportunity was to listen.
(2) Jeremy and Edward are fantastic teachers–different styles and approaches, but a shared dedication and commitment to teaching. (And, of course, they are both amazing musicians).
(3) It was really fun to play in a trio setting with pros–I wish there had been more time (see below).
(4) An opportunity to perform for friends, family, and fellow students.
(1) The mornings are sort of a potpourri of topics with little attention given to planning or quality control–some were great, some not so great.
(2) The masterclasses were not planned well–some turned into lectures, some turned into private lessons where no one could hear anything, and some were dominated by one or two students who just wanted to hear themselves play.
(3) The biggest con is, I think, related to the fact that this was the first year of the “piano intensive” course, and the way things ended up being structured was each of the 16 students had about 5 min in a 2 hr block to play either for Jeremy or Edward, and another 5-8 min to receive feedback and advice. With two 2 hr blocks per afternoon, that worked out to about 10-15 min of individual piano instruction per day, so not very efficient (or cost-effective for the student). There was definitely some frustration on the part everyone (students and faculty) in the “piano intensive” group, and I hope that the organizers will consider reorganizing it in the future to provide the same playing and teaching opportunities for the piano students as the rest of the “campers”.
Overall, it was a great experience, I’m really happy to have done it, but I probably wouldn’t do it again.
Hope this is of some interest to others!