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Review in American String Teacher August 2006 by Janet Farrar-Royce (used by permission):
Swing There, Done That (Grade 2.5) by Martin Norgaard, FJH Music, 2005, $55.
Long recognized for his talent as a jazz fiddler, Norgaard is also a successful instructor of the Suzuki method and jazz ensembles at all levels. His well-conceived Jazz Fiddle Wizard and Jazz Fiddle Wizard Junior series are written with easy explanations that introduce jazz in logical steps and lots of supporting exercises.
Swing there, Done That is an application of these same lessons. With hypnotic recurring rhythm passages and always-interesting lower string parts, this is a good choice for middle school or first-time high school jazz experience. Performance suggestions by the composer confirm his experience and aptitude in working with younger string ensembles. The printed parts are easy to read and clearly bowed. Two short solo parts include a good first-time four-measure solo and a second step eight-measure one. A suggested solo is printed in all parts, with chords written above the staff for those students willing to create their own improvisation.
A special feature of this arrangement is the page of "Techniques for Developing Improvised Solos," an excellent teaching tool that will give confidence to even the most novice improviser. A full-length recording is available at the FJH website. Using one or two repeats of the soli creates a fun three to four minute performance piece, or you can add as many solo repeats as your musicians and audience can handle!. Swing There, Done That is a new kind of ensemble piece that you will want to "swing" toward-to do that!
Review in Fiddler Magazine Spring 2006 by Hollis Taylor (used by permission):
Jazz Fiddle Wizard Junior, Book 2, by Martin Norgaard, with accomp. CD [Mel Bay Publications MB20726BCD, www.melbay.com]
The first book of this series, Jazz Fiddle Wizard Junior, focused on learning through imitation with numerous call-and-response riffs, all with a healthy emphasis on rhythm. This new volume continues with that approach while expanding in the areas of solo development, modes, and inner melodies. “Inner melodies is a ‘horizontal’ method for developing temporal awareness. The students will learn ‘where they are’ in the tune without having to worry about chord changes,” explains Norgaard.
I’m wary of methods and lingo. They can be just so much busywork, a way of fleshing out a book and making a buck. Not so here. Concepts such as story-telling devices and inner melodies come alive on the page and on the CD. Norgaard is skilled at creating progressive exercises, exercises that don’t weigh students down but free them up. His sense of when to introduce what is well-honed from his vast teaching experience, and his bowings and articulations are unbeatable.
Each series of exercises culminates in a jazz string orchestra arrangement for both homogeneous and heterogeneous groups. In addition, piano accompaniment and a bass part are included. Book 2 is appropriate for upper middle school and high school string students or a Suzuki level of book 3 and up. Volumes for Viola and Cell/Bass are also available; all three are designed for use in the same classroom and are identical except for clef and register.
Norgaard’s book/CD sets consistently open doors to new worlds for string students. They’re fun, they’re smart, they’re legit. This isn’t something “jazzy”- this is jazz.
Review in Jazz Education Journal February 2006 by Dr. John Kuzmich, Jr. (used by permission):
1121. I. Jazz Fiddle Wizard Junior, Books 1 and 2 – Martin Norgaard – Mel Bay Publications – 2002 and 2005 - $14.95 for Book 1 (with CD) and $17.95 for Book 2 (with CD). II. MS/JHS/HS. III Scalar-chordal/Rhythm patterns/Theory. IV. Recorded/Written examples. VI. Individual/Classroom.
Jazz Fiddle Wizard Junior is a breakthrough approach for beginning to intermediate middle- and high-school string players who want to learn improvisation within the jazz style. Beginning with rhythms on an open string and progressing sequentially to preparatory exercises for improvisation based on scale/chord relationships, the methodology is motivating to string players who do not have a jazz background. Indeed, it is a great introduction to initial jazz strings experience with its concept of “melody tracking” in which improvising students are aware of their place in chord progressions through an internalized melody line. The “inner melody” in lessons 3 and 4 in book 2 are especially good examples.
Right from the first page, the method handles the techniques of improvisation in a creative manner in which musicality is very evident through musical adventures. Its pedagogy is amazing, for there are no steps left out in the role of rhythm, call-and-response, articulation, scales, and chord changes in jazz improvisation. The exercises incorporate catchy tunes arranged to work in any configuration of string groups for both the classroom and for public performance ensemble presentations.
Each book series has separate books for each string instrument including violin, viola (Jazz Viola Wizard Junior), and cello/bass (Jazz Cello Wizard Junior). (Because there is no specific bass book for Book 1, teachers may need to show bass players the idiomatic particulars of jazz bass playing.) There are three-part arrangements for each tune in the series that may be played with any number of like-instruments. This methodology works well both for private lessons and the heterogeneous classroom. The play-along CD contains full rhythm section accompaniments for every exercise and tune. The tempos are both challenging and well thought-out. You will appreciate the coordinated web site, <http://www.fiddlewizard.com>, that provides additional resources, including jazz bass techniques. In addition, there are piano accompaniment parts provided for every exercise and tune. This method is also available in Japanese. In closing, most other methods cover only one scale type improvisation or start with chord/scale improvisation. The Jazz Wizard books outline a middle step in pedagogy that is imperative for success-“melody tracking” concepts. Address: #4 Industrial Drive, Pacific, MO 63069 USA. Web:<http://www.melbay.com>. Book 1, 48 pages, and Book 2, 64 pages.
Review in Fiddler Magazine Fall 2003 by Hollis Taylor (used by permission):
Jazz Fiddle Wizard Junior, by Martin Norgaard [book/CD set, Mel Bay Pubs.,
Review in American String Teacher August 2003 by Kip Mason (used by permission):
JAZZ FIDDLE WIZARD JUNIOR. (Violin, Viola, Cello/Bass). Martin Norgaard. Mel Bay Publications, 2002, $14.95.
Jazz Fiddle Wizard Junior is a natural outgrowth of Martin Norgaard's original Jazz Fiddle Wizard ( reviewed in AST in August, 2001), and is designed for the intermediate middle or high school string student. The book includes some excellent features. Each chapter revolves around a key, and employs both exercises and performance quality pieces. From the first exercise, the student is engaged in not only learning to play in the specified key, but to think for himself in developing skills to use the notes of the key in a solo. The logical progression of concept introduction is highly effective, especially with older middle school students.
The pieces are engaging and of good quality, featuring piano accompaniments playable by the moderately accomplished string teacher or piano student. Pieces are arranged with A, B, and C parts providing melody, harmony, and bass lines. Each book includes a play-along CD. Any of the pieces could be used in a concert setting.
This book is easily used in either school orchestra or private lessons. A serious drawback of the series is the absence of a specific bass book. The cello book can be used by bass players, however the range in the A parts tends to be a bit high, and many particulars of jazz bass playing are not addressed. The use of chord symbols in the pieces provides opportunity for teaching more advanced bass players the skill of playing from a bass line. Although no chord symbols appear in the exercises, with relative ease the teacher can instruct bass students to build lines within the keys of the exercises. Nonetheless, the specifics of jazz bass playing should be addressed somehow in this series.
Jazz Fiddle Wizard Junior will certainly become a staple of the string student's jazz curriculum. Students like the exercises and show a motivation to practice and learn to improvise using the books.
[Book 2 will feature bass lines in all versions]
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