Lizz Wright workshop

This week we had Lizz Wright visiting the vocal department of Berklee. Amazing.

2014-04-16 13.16.39Lizz Wright (1980) is an American Jazz/R&B singer and composer, originally from Georgia. She is mainly self taught and she signed a contract with Verve in 2002 and her first album, salt was released in 2003 and reached number two on the Billboard Jazzchart. You could compare her voice with Norah Jones, but you will find a lot of gospel influences. She is an very spiritual person, and the way she answered all our questions was touching. I am a fan 🙂

Here some short tips she gave us that I like to share.

* Try to “sit in the bass” when there is a nice blues shuffle

* When you improvise in a swinging tune, focus on the hi-hat.

* LIsten to Shirley Horn when you wanna learn the perfect spacing.

* Always for technique focus on your hips and shoulders when you do your exercises.

* Watch Dianne Reeves for microphone technique, but also for everything else she does.

A short video:

Workshop Mindful Improvisation

For a while – after getting my master degree as a Psychologist in the Netherlands I’ve been working in a private practice. Since I got to Berklee I have been (only) using these skills in my music using it as a tool for improvisation, so last summer I wanted to organize a workshop where people can combine mindfulness and improvisation. When I spoke with Bibi van den Dijck – a good friend of mine, we got inspired to organize a day together. Bibi is a classical trained vocalist and also teaches “free singing” to groups and individuals.

When you use music as a tool for improvisation you will notice more connection between the body and the brain. Also it very handy to be able to improvise in daily life. When people do the exercise we gave them, sometimes they would stumble upon some basic fears or habits they would have problems with in their lives. It was a super nice day, with a lot of insight and relaxation, and we will surely do it again next year!

Berklee’s Gagaku workshop

Gagaku drumsToday (Tuesday 15 October) there was a special event in Berklee. They brought the Gagaku ensemble from Japan. They would perform in the evening in the Berklee Performance Centre, and, during the lunch break they would do a clinic to present their instruments to the students. Gagaku is the oldest extant orchestral art music and dance in the world, and very rarely heard outside of Japan. Also those instruments they are using are very special and not common in western music. The music seems to happen without a time, and creates this hypnotic, spiritual experience. I made a couple of short video’s of the different instrument. Enjoy!

“In the summer of 752, the great Buddha at Todaiji in Nara was finally completed … eloquent speeches were read by state ministers, hymns of praise were sung by large choruses of priests, and the full company of court musicians and dancers … provided regal spectacles suitable for the rulers of heaven and earth.” -William P. Malm

Gagaku (雅楽, literally “elegant music”) is a type of Japanese classical music that has been performed at the Imperial court for several centuries.

Kitanodai Gagaku Ensemble presents traditional Japanese gagaku music, which was born in the fourth century as imperial court music. The music and dancing has remained unchanged and is still performed in its original form. The instrumentation of this ensemble is comprised of three wind instruments, three percussion instruments, two string instruments, and two to four dancers. Berklee Brass department professor Tiger Okoshi will perform with the ensemble for the “Etenraku” piece. The concept of blending traditional sounds with the modern tones of the trumpet will be a premier in the history of this ancient style. For many listeners, the gagaku experience is one of spirituality, purity, and a tranquility unlike anything they have previously known.

The Kitanodai Gagaku orchestra and dance ensemble will appear as visiting artists at the BPC on Tuesday 15 October at 8:15pm. Berklee Brass department professor Tiger Okoshi will join the gagaku ensemble for one special piece, blending modern trumpet colors with ancient traditional sounds. Earlier the same day, members of Kitanodai Gagaku will offer a demonstration-workshop on the unusual wind, string, and percussion instruments of gagaku. The workshop will take place in Cafe 939 at 1:00pm. This event is made possible from with support by the consulate general of Japan in Boston, Japan Society of Boston, and Japanese Association of Greater Boston.