»Jazz«, being a musical and an individual form of artistic expression, always includes both: mastering and continuing the tradition on the one hand, and looking for new possibilities of expression, crossing boundaries and merging diverse musical styles on the other.
In keeping with the words of Gustav Mahler – »tradition is not to preserve the ashes but to pass on the flame« – an essential part of the education is communicating traditions in order to impart an understanding of the history, language and expression of jazz. But it is also important to create enough space for research and experiments in order to not only enable but also to initiate and encourage further development.
By offering specific modules in combination with a wide array of elective courses, the jazz programs at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich aim at helping students to develop artistic personalities and, moreover, training them to become professional musicians and educators with a promising future.
The central teaching and learning principles of the program focus on showing the students how to take responsibility in a vocational course of study that not only meets the instrumental requirements but also calls for crossing (musical) boundaries without reservations.
Training to become a professional musician includes taking classes in the major subject as well as expanding the artistic practice by playing in an orchestra or ensemble. An integral part of a modern, future-oriented education is also to acquaint students with vital technologies (e.g. in the area of computer-generated music or the work of a recording studio), self-management and the music industry. A further essential aspect is advancing and refining the student’s individual expression through intensive courses in composition, arrangement, improvisation and advanced improvisation, which build on music theory and ear-training classes. International workshops with renowned contemporary jazz professionals as well as interdisciplinary projects on film scores, classical and new music give students a broad musical perspective.
The city of Munich is a culturally attractive location and offers a wide range of performance opportunities on and beyond the university grounds. The Gasteig with its various concert halls, which attract large audiences, is a particular suitable venue for the jazz program to reach out to a wide public. Clubs, open-air stages, weekly sessions and festivals give students the opportunity to gain stage experience during their years of training. In addition to gathering essential experience in a wide variety of musical traditions, students get the chance to network on an international level, enabling them to establish invaluable contacts for their future career.
Jazz has certainly found its own identity, moreover, its refreshing immediacy allows for a fruitful exchange with the entire world of music. In a climate of experimental awakening it is possible to create a new focal point at the Jazz Institute, which is not only important within Europe but also valuable on a global scale.
Prof. Claus Reichstaller