We had a quick chat with one of our current Bachelor students, Lachie Alexander to discuss his experience thus far studying at JMI and how it has benefited him and his future as a musician.
Firstly, tell me a bit about yourself. What instrument are you currently learning and when did you first start playing music?
I play Tenor Saxophone, I’m in third year at JMI and I first started playing Alto Saxophone at 10 years old and eventually moved to Tenor at age of 16.
Why did you choose JMI to do your Bachelor in Music?
I actually decided in Grade 7 that I was going to go to university for music because one of my teachers told me that they existed. I was so excited that I could do something like that after high school. After graduating high school, I auditioned for other places and studied French at another university but in 2017, I was told about JMI by some friends of mine and decided to audition. My main goal was to just play music at university but JMI introduced me to more than I could’ve imagined during that time.
Has jazz always been a passion of yours, or did JMI further introduce you to jazz?
I remember the exact moment I knew that I was going to do jazz for the rest of my life. I was in my room and was scrolling through Spotify for something to listen to and then remembered that my teacher at the time recommended for me to listen to ‘Autumn Leaves’ played by Cannonball Adderley on the album ‘Somethin’ Else’. The moment I heard Miles and Cannonball playing together with that band… that was it really. But at the point I had only hit the tip of the iceberg, because after entering into JMI, (with the amount of passion for jazz that’s in that building) you can’t help but leave every day with even more passion for it than the day before.
How do you feel learning jazz has benefited you as a musician in the wider musical landscape?
I’ve played non-jazz gigs since entering into JMI and because of the sheer amount of musical knowledge that jazz offers each musician, I could handle so many different situations and was able to instantly have fun and express myself playing some music that I have never played before.
Ideally, what skills or goals were you aiming to accomplish by the end of your degree? And do you feel that you are on your way to doing that?
By the end of my degree, my goal is to have a solid understanding of how this music works and how it can grow in the future. But what is most important to me as a musician is that I need to learn how to effectively teach myself because I won’t have an amazing tutor every week forever, and I really think I’m getting close to being able to do that at a professional standard.
What in your opinion is one of the best parts about the JMI Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance course?
The best part of the course for me is definitely the principal study sessions, because the musicians teaching at JMI are in my opinion, some of the best jazz players in Australia. I still walk through the halls and get nervous because one of my favourite jazz singers, Kristen Berardi is just down the hallway teaching at JMI! I feel like I really have the hang of getting the most out of my one on one lessons as well and I’m improving faster than I ever have.
What is your favourite part about JMI in general? What makes it unique or stand out to you?
The passion. I have always loved music but the amount of pure love for jazz music in the teaching staff and the students, it just really nursed my passion so much that I can’t live without it. I also can’t forget to mention the Thursday sausage sizzle and Gary! What a truly gracious being that man is.
Would you recommend JMI as a place to study for future students, and why?
I would recommend JMI to any student interested in jazz because the community is so tight. You can get so much out of the course and you will join the JMI family. I’ve discovered so much because everyone is constantly finding new things to work and listen to. I really do view it as a family because even when you’ve graduated you still are connected to this tight jazz loving community that is JMI.
And a fun one – what transcriptions or specific techniques are you learning at the moment?
I am learning John Coltrane’s solo on ‘My Shining Hour’ and Johnny Griffin’s on ‘Rhythmn-a-ning’. Two very intense players and for very different reasons, so I’m having a lot of fun broadening my playing by adopting their different techniques into my playing. All of my specific techniques that I’m trying to improve actually have nothing to do with the horn but with my focus. I’m training myself to be able to concentrate for longer so I can get more out of my practice. Like for example, last week I went on a “dopamine detox” and that means for an entire week all I let myself do was practice, read, eat and maybe go for a walk. It was really hard but I’ve improved my focus and willingness to practice improve so much!
It is without a doubt that Lachie’s passion for jazz, matches ours here at JMI and we are ever so thankful that he chose JMI as his place of study, and is now an essential part of the jazz community here in Brisbane.
To find out more about our Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance course and how to apply, click here.