Jim Bovinette, Reporter
Michael Davison is head of the jazz and brass programs at the University of Richmond. Davison presented a jazz pedagogy lecture complete with relaxed banter, handouts, demonstrations, and his observations and ideas on the use of articulation as an effective tool in jazz education.
Davidson began the session explaining that fear is the number one obstacle that one must overcome to become a successful improviser. He sighted statistics regarding how fear becomes even more of a hindering factor as our creative capacity diminishes with age. As a means of recapturing or re-awakening our childlike imagination, he uses what he describes as a nuts and bolts method of incorporating 'Bop' duets, call and response, and style etudes as a primary tool in his approach.
With the help of William Balkwill, a trumpet student of John Miller at the Royal Northern College of Music, Davison gave a demonstration of what he described as the evolution of the eighth note. Davison believes that in order to break the rule you have to know the rule, and went on to demonstrate with William Balkwill's help, how he uses bob duets to get students to understand how articulation can help create proper style within the context of solid time.
Davison also had some very interesting and eye opening observations about the use of doodle tonguing. Davison has done a great job of developing an effective doodle tonguing approach as a result of his interviews and solo transcriptions with the notable jazz artist, Randy Brecker. Michael Davison concluded his demonstration by saying, "Play melodically. You're never completely wrong, and you're never more that a half step away from ecstasy!