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21st Century Lesson Plan: Learning Jazz Remotely

How both teachers and students can make the most of remote video lessons

Greg Fishman via Skype
Greg Fishman via Skype

At a time when information and media are conveyed almost instantly, it’s easy to forget that in the not-too-distant past, a remote music lesson meant something very different from what it does today—and it was a painfully slow and tedious process. Greg Fishman, a saxophone and woodwind player, educator, and writer based in Chicago, Ill., says, “I used to do correspondence lessons by cassette or CD and through mail, where I’d listen to a person, give them a critique, write out a lesson plan, and then mail it back. And wait. It wasn’t often until a month later I’d get something from them!”

Fishman, an early adapter of Skype lessons in 2006, now gives instant feedback to students around the world, aged 12 to 80, sharing the information he gleaned from his personal studies with heavyweights like Joe Henderson and Dave Liebman and his friendships with Stan Getz and Michael Brecker. Many other jazz teachers are spreading their knowledge in the same way, and, if done smartly, the benefits to both students and instructors can be staggering.

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