Jazz Improvisation lessons for young people (up to university entrance) are generally given by JWA principal Saul Richardson, a specialist in teaching jazz to young musicians. Playing jazz fluently involves knowledge and skills that can be taught and learnt. However, these are not enough on their own. Success in jazz playing also requires the development of an ear for sound and style that must be cultivated over time mainly through prolonged exposure to the music in lessons, at home, and in ensemble rehearsals. These things are reflected the approach used in the lessons. What doesn’t really matter is just “having ‘it'”, being “born into a musical family” or any similar things that are often said about musicians (usually by musicians or publicists). Jazz improvisation is a craft that can be learnt, not magic.
Older and established players can elect to study with their choice of teacher at the Jazz Workshop.
Improvisation lessons should be in addition to regular instrumental lessons. They deal with theory, technique, sound, style, and so on. They aren’t intended to teach instrumental technique. For the aspiring or developing jazz player, however, they can make a huge difference. Just as the kids who do swimming squad or little athletics are nearly always the ones who win races at school swimming and athletics carnivals, the kids who take impro lessons are the ones who “win” in the jazz race!
Saul Richardson, B.Ed (Hons), MACE
Saul Richardson is an internationally recognized jazz educator and a leading authority on teaching jazz improvisation to young musicians. Over more than twenty years his method has achieved an unparalleled success rate in Australia. He is co-founder and Principal at Jazz Workshop Australia and lectures in jazz pedagogy at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
He is a guitarist, bass player, and author who graduated from the University of Sydney with First Class Honours in Education and the University Medal in 1995. He is currently doing a PhD at the University of Sydney. He studied Jazz guitar under Steve Brien and Steve McKenna, and conducting with Jerry Nowak. He is an internationally recognized Jazz educator, and served two years as Australasian representative on the Executive Board of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) where he was elected representative for Australasia and Asia.
Richardson established and developed the renowned Jazz program at North Sydney Boys’ High School, which during his tenure became widely regarded as a benchmark of excellence in its field in Australia. He was recognized by the (IAJE) at their January 2004 conference for his outstanding service to Jazz Education.
As a performer he has worked with many of Australia’s leading Jazz artists and groups including Ed Wilson, John Morrison and Swing City Big Band, Andrew Firth, Roger Frampton, Don Burrows, Col Nolan, Keith Stirling and Tony and Bob Barnard. He has performed throughout Australia, the UK and Europe and in the USA. Mr Richardson also directed of the NSW Department of Education and Training Arts Unit Stage Band, the Blue Riff big band and the Powerhouse big band. He was a founding member of IAJE in NSW and works as a clinician, consultant and adjudicator.
Some of Saul Richardson’s past students have included Richard Savery, Simon Ferenci, National Jazz Award winning pianist Jackson Harrison, Dale Gorfinkel, Jeremy Rose, Jamie Castrisos, Scott Simpkins, Robert Sidaway, Andrew Brooks, Martin Wieczorek, and many other fine young musicians now making their own mark on the Australian Jazz scene. Graduates of his programs and ensembles can be found studying tertiary music across Australia, working professionally as performers and educators, or simply appreciating and hearing Jazz with discerning ears.
Saul is the author of the JWA jazz performance levels exam syllabus.