Mersey's new beat

September 4, 1998

About 60 students from all over the world attended the first jazz summer school at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts this year.

Jazz began a seven-week programme of international summer schools at LIPA that included rock music, sound technology, acting, dance and musical theatre.

Although the institute has a degree course in popular music, it has moved into new territory with jazz, said course director Stuart Riley.

Mr Riley, a well-known jazz bass player, composer and arranger, doubles as a jazz educator. For ten years he has run courses and evening classes, and four years ago he persuaded City College, Manchester, to run a higher national diploma in jazz studies that led to a degree.

Mr Riley said: "Jazz education is becoming more widespread - as it has been in the United States for some time - and should help students on their way to careers as performing jazz musicians."

Tuition at the summer school was by top British jazz players and covered voice, bass guitar, double bass, drums, piano, guitar, tenor and alto saxophones, trumpet and trombone.

Students had to have basic competence in their chosen instrument. Mornings were devoted to instrumental lessons, afternoons to playing in mixed bands. Teatimes were for workshops and lectures, early evenings for big-band rehearsals. Students satisfactorily completing the course received a LIPA international summer school certificate. Alongside each course, and included in the cost, was the opportunity for students to attend lectures and seminars on the music industry and careers in the performing arts. They could also take part in a programme of events and concerts, both in the city of Liverpool and at the institute. One night students and tutors played a gig at the Cafe Jazz Bar on Albert Dock.

Ulises Soto, 24, from New York City, studied guitar on the course and stayed in Liverpool to take three further LIPA summer schools.

He completed a liberal arts degree at City University, New York, this summer, plays in two rock bands, and said that LIPA has a good reputation among musicians in the US.

"I think it is unique in teaching so many subjects - including practical things like making a living from music - in one curriculum. The jazz course was intense - I had at least one 14-hour day - but a lot of fun. It certainly helped me broaden my musicianship and experience."

Don Hayes, 43, from Halifax, is a consultant engineer who plays double bass in two jazz groups in his spare time. He had heard a lot about LIPA and decided to sample its summer school.

"It's one of the best courses I have been on, with excellent facilities and a high calibre of students and tutors. It was nice and friendly and everyone seemed very keen, and appeared to make progress."

After the course, Mr Riley said: "The summer school gave students an opportunity to learn first-hand from experienced players, to play in sympathetic surroundings, and to make contact with other young musicians interested in playing jazz. It has been an outstanding success and we hope to repeat it next year."

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