We had a quick chat with our latest addition to the JMI Faculty, Trombone Teacher Mikael Strand!
We are so pleased to announce that he starts a new adventure with us as our primary Trombone Educator of the Jazz Music Institute! Mikael was kind enough to share a bit of a background about himself and what he enjoys the most about teaching and performing music.
Tell us a bit about you as a musician. What do you play and when did you find a love for jazz?
I started playing the Trombone in Primary School, and when I got to High School I was playing both Trumpet and Trombone in as many ensembles as I could fit in! I started to get interested in Jazz when I joined the school Big Band, and I started really listening to the music.
What do you love about jazz?
I love the feeling I get when I listen to or play Jazz. I feel this spiritual connection to the music, all of my senses are heightened, and the world becomes an infinitely more beautiful and exciting place. It is music that evokes the entire spectrum of human emotion, and it has given me an enormous amount of joy and happiness in my life.
What do you love about the trombone?
I fell in love with the Trombone the first time I heard it played! For me, you can express so much emotion with the instrument, and I still have so much fun when I play!
Who are some of your favourite trombone players?
There are so many Trombone players that I love and admire. I was obsessed with J.J. Johnson when I first got to the Con, and then I started listening to Slide Hampton, Conrad Herwig, Wycliffe Gordon, and Curtis Fuller. But if I had to choose just one, it would have to be Urbie Green. When I listen to Urbie Green, all I hear is effortless mastery of the music and the instrument.
Do you perform regularly in any bands?
I’ve had an extremely active performance career, performing a huge variety of different styles of music from Jazz, Classical & Opera, to Funk, Reggae, Hip-Hop, Afro-Cuban, Eastern European Folk Music, and the list goes on! Currently I’m performing with Nu-Soul Brass Band Bullhorn, and the Sweet Thunder Jazz Orchestra, as well as freelancing with various artists and groups.
What do you enjoy about teaching music?
Teaching music has been a passion of mine for a very long time, because of what it represents – a group of like-minded individuals working together to create something unique. I love hearing my students improve their skills in music, because as they progress as musicians, they also progress as people.
What have you been listening to at the moment?
There’s a great Trumpet player from the States called Marquis Hill, who I’ve been listening to a lot. Also, Marshall Gilkes is just blowing my mind with his Trombone playing and writing. I’m also listening to a lot of Duke Ellington at the moment, particularly the Far East Suite.
What is some of the best advice you have ever received from a mentor, musical or otherwise?
The late great Roy Hargrove once said:
“If you look after the music, the music will look after you”.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, and I feel that it is a very true statement. Also, my first Trombone teacher, who sadly passed away a couple of years ago, said to me:
“You’ve got to want to play”.
For me, that means that you have to find a way to remain passionate and enthusiastic about playing the instrument, otherwise whatever you want to do in music just will not happen!