What Makes a Well-Rounded Jazz Education?

Question to Dave Liebman from journalist Fred Bouchard

 Schools across the country offer a broad range of jazz education options, but taking advantage of the opportunities falls on the shoulders of the student. Because listening to and learning from the masters plays an essential role in learning jazz, we asked a number of professional jazz artists and educators: “What makes a well-rounded jazz education” in the lobby of the New York Hilton at this past January’s International Association for Jazz Education conference.


A well-rounded jazz education includes technical matters (the vocabulary of music), music in general (scales, chords, keyboard knowledge), technical aspects of instrumental playing (including some classical technique) and the specifics of jazz concerning history, repertoire, ensemble playing, big band participation, writing and arranging. Alongside this obvious musical training, the business of music must be included, meaning the realities of performing and teaching as a way to make a living. Finally, and most important is aesthetics in order to recognize the meaning of art in manifestations other than music: the great philosophical as well as spiritual matters that should concern a human being who aspires to be a conduit for deep feelings and thoughts. It is the development and evolution of the total “artist” that should be the focal point of the ideal jazz education.