We had a quick chat with one of our current Bachelor students, Liam Conor to discuss his experience thus far studying at JMI and how it has benefited him and his future as a musician.
Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself. What instrument are you currently learning and when did you first start playing music?
My name is Liam and I’m a third year student studying Trumpet at the Jazz Music Institute. I’ve been playing since I was 10 years old. I was 9 when I was first given the option to be a part of my primary school’s Concert Band. I was taken with a selection of students to try different instruments to see which suited us most naturally, which in my case was the trumpet. Six months later at the beginning of the new year, I was handed my chosen instrument, and here I am.
Why did you choose JMI to do your Bachelor in Music?
It was where I felt most at home. Having done the Certificate courses, I was well accustomed with the staff and some fellow students. It was also the individual attention I was able to receive from my teachers. Due to being a small institute, you have the advantage of having one on one classes for personal development.
Out of all the other Jazz programs I felt JMI had the best course outline, covering the fundamentals and basics, building to more extensive levels of theory that allow oneself to have a strong understanding of the music and how it works. As well as learning the history of Jazz and how it originated, something which is skipped in many courses.
Has Jazz always been a passion of yours, or did JMI further introduce you to Jazz?
While I was at High School, the only options I had where to be a part of the school concert band and Jazz ensemble. The Jazz ensemble was my favourite, but I did it mainly because playing Trumpet was the only thing I was good at. Not because I knew that it was an avenue of music I wished to pursue in my life.
My instrumental teacher gave me the option to enrol in the Certificate III program once I was in year 11. At first it was an excuse to get out of having to do science, but once I started getting deeper into the program I realised just how much freedom and creativity that came with it. Learning Jazz suddenly became new and exciting. I came back in year 12 to continue from the Cert IV program. It was after that I realised how valuable it was to understand music in general. I had no other ambitions than to study music, so I enrolled in the Bachelor course.
How do you feel learning jazz has benefited you as a musician in the wider musical landscape?
For me learning Jazz has allowed me to have a greater understanding of the inner workings of music. Studying it has been very theory intensive as there is a lot that goes into the making of a solo or even a composition, such as the understanding of where a lot of musical influences in modern music have derived from, the function of chords and where they can move. But most importantly it’s helped me to listen and communicate within a band, work together and build an atmosphere while keeping balance and form. These are some of the most important skills a musician can have.
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?
Throughout the degree I’ve found that my expectations and goals of what I hope to achieve by the end of the degree has varied over time. But I’ve found the one goal that has remained consistent is the desire to have freedom of expression within music. And I believe I’m on my way to achieving this goal.
What in your opinion is one of the best parts about the JMI Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance course?
The opportunity to jam and develop with fellow students and being able to learn how to communicate musically amongst one-another. I personally feel it’s one of life’s most precious gifts to be able to do so.
What is your favourite part about JMI in general? What makes it unique or stand out to you?
The fact that you get to know teachers and students very closely, sometimes even personally. It’s an atmosphere that I’ve never felt in a place of study and one that I can guarantee would be hard to find anywhere else. The fact that each student is able to receive so much individual attention is absolutely wonderful.
Would you recommend JMI as a place to study for future students, and why?
Absolutely. Whether it’s for the soul purpose of learning Jazz or the desire to better understand the inner workings of music in general, I would definitely recommend JMI.
And a fun one – what transcriptions or specific techniques are you learning at the moment?
At this point in time I am currently transcribing the first chorus of Miles Davis’s solo on ‘So What’. Notation wise, it is very simple, but where it gets tricky is the articulation. I’m currently trying to perfectly articulate the solo the way Miles does. It’s one thing to able to play a lot of notes; it’s another thing to play very few and give it heart and soul, something that I hope to be able to achieve.
To find out more about our Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance course and how to apply, click here.