Have you seen “Whiplash”? J.K. Simmons is amazing and absolutely frightening as a jazz band instructor. Makes for great conversation with musicians especially. I was in a studio here in Nashville on Tuesday with some pretty well known session guys, and asked if anyone had seen it. The answers ranged from “No, and I don’t want to”, to "Not yet, but I will…eventually. I’m a little scared".
If you haven’t see it, here's a clip, you’ll get the flavor of it. The instructor/bandleader is looking for perfection, genius; to bring out a level of commitment players couldn’t get to on their own no matter how driven. His method is what's in question. I know a few music folk who lead bands or sessions by intimidation, and I’ve even seen it work. Don’t think it would work for me, I like to think I can drive myself.
So the more interested I got, the more articles I came across from actual Jazz drummers who said they had never experienced anything like this guy but wouldn’t respond to that type of "tough love". One went as far as to say creative people are hardwired...and most of the players he knows would have hit back big time! Check out what Peter Erskine had to say.
Rose Colored Classes
This led me to think about favorite teachers and the methods they used to inspire. I always come back to Mr. Rose, my high school Social Studies teacher at Maine Endwell High in upstate New York. We’re talkin' late 60’s, and there was change everywhere. Most of my teachers were old-school; some would throw you out daily with “come back when you get a haircut!" Hard to imagine now.
Mr Rose was younger than the rest of my teachers, as I remember. Might have even been growing his hair a bit over his ears but I’m foggy on that one. What I do remember clearly is his outside-the-box approach to teaching. He had us pull our chairs out of the old row model and put ‘em in a circle so we could all see each other. He talked with us, not at us. Learning became more fun and way more interesting. I must have responded because I definitely remember.
I’m coaching songwriters from all over the world these days and love it, but I constantly have to stay aware of the tools over rules idea. I try to engage and not outrage. I don’t wanna be “that guy”.
So who’s your Mr Rose? How did they inspire you in music and in life? Share your stories!
And Now...The Best Part!
P.S. Through Facebook, I came across Mr Rose. I call him Jim now but I haven't decided if I’m comfortable with this new arrangement. He’s still teaching, so I asked him if he would give me his thoughts. Here ya go! Thanks Mr.Rose...JIm!
"Mark I've done a lot of thinking about what makes a good teacher. Hard to come up with a good explanation. Think about those teacher's you thought were good. Is there a single identifiable trait? I can't put my finger on just one or two. However, I can tell you what makes teaching good. First it's the look on the faces of the students. Not just the big smile but that look that says show me what you got. It's when the student is engaged and want's to challenge the ideas you present. What makes a good teacher is when, after 45 years, the student comes back to the teacher and remembers a lesson that has stayed with them all those years. Good teaching comes from preparation before, during and after the lesson. Very similar to when you performed, you would not walk on the stage without practice, rehearsal and a desire to bring a bonding with your music. Sorry I couldn't be more definitive but I could have give you a bunch of BS but you would have seen through that :-) Hope this helps!" Jim Rose
March 6th , 2015
Photo : Google Images
About Mark Cawley
Mark Cawley's songs have appeared on more than 15 million records. Over a career based in LA, London, and Nashville his songs have been recorded by an incredibly diverse range of artists. From Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Wynonna, Diana Ross and Chaka Kahn to The Spice Girls, Tom Scott, Kathy Mattea, Paul Carrack, Will Downing and Pop Idol winners in the UK. He has had #1 records in the UK and throughout Europe as well as cuts in Country, Jazz & R & B. His groundbreaking website Song Journey created with Hall of Fame writer Kye Fleming was the first to mentor writers from around the world one-on-one online. He is currently writing and publishing as well as helping writers and artists worldwide with a one-on-one co-active coaching service, iDoCoach. In addition he is a judge for this years UK Songwriting Contest, a contributing writer to the US Songwriting Competition , a popular songwriting blogger and from time to time, conducts his own workshops.