Bandstand Learning with Role Models | Jazzaar Festival

Jazzaar’s education concept is simply ‘Bandstand Learning with Rolemodels’. This gifted youth development and cultural exchange project has been developing in Aarau, Switzerland since 1992. Once known as ‘Bands Across the Seas’ (BATS)TM, the project is a brainchild of Fritz Renold, the musical director of the “Jazzaar Festival“.

The ‘Bandstand Learning with Rolemodels’ concept is such that professional musicians of high caliber in the international music scene are brought together with selected young and aspiring student musicians between the ages of 14 and 24 years old to study and prepare a musical work, either original music that is specially composed or ‘standards’ that are specifically arranged and orchestrated for this orchestra for a final performance often as premiers before a large public.

A ‘situated learning’ platform is created for young talents as they work together with professional coaches who impart the tools of their trade to bring a musical production to a completion! In the Jazz world the past century has seen music masters such as Duke Ellington, Miles Davis or Art Blakey, (among others) who have proven this concept by recruiting young and talented musicians who eventually became professionals in their own rights, contributing to the progress of music.

The professionals invited for the Bandstand Learning with Role Models Project, are working musicians from all over the world as well as from the Swiss music scene. Randy Brecker (USA), Bobby Watson (USA), Christian Jacob (FR), Franco Ambrosetti (CH), Victor Lewis (USA), Tommy Smith (SCOTLAND), Airto Moreira & Flora Purim (BRAZIL) and Benny Golson (USA) are some of the names of international musicians and pedagogues that have contributed to the project in the past. Participating student musicians are generally Swiss residents though an exchange programme with other countries have occurred in the past.

The ‘Bandstand Learning with Rolemodels’ educational programme continues to prove its efficacy by the evidence of its own prodigies. Drummer Matthias Künzli (New York) or saxophonist/band leader Rafael Baier, harpist Eliane Zweifel, saxophonist and educator Phil Hilfiker (American School of Modern Music in Paris) are just a few to name among numerous participants over the past 20 years who now belong to the who’s who of the Swiss music scene.

Besides equipping young musicians for a professional career, this programme also provides a reality check for young talents not destined for the road as professional musicians in order to direct their focus early in life on future careers other than music performance for better job satisfaction, while maintaining music as a hobby.

Activities involved

During the week long preparation, study of the music is carried out through daily activities such as sectional and orchestral rehearsals, workshops, private instructions as well as personal interaction between the professional and the student musician. Besides work, hang out and jam sessions in the evenings add to the bonding between musicians young and older. Since there is more than one musical work that is being produced during this week, participants also have the chance to observe other rehearsals and attend concerts presented by their mentors and peers.

A documentation about jazzaar and its ‘Bandstand Learning with Rolemodels’ application is now available for purchase online!


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