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Etudes:
Tim Ohlsson - Diary and Exercises

Dear Eddie,
After one week of travelling through New Mexico and Colorado I’m back in Europe and finally can “digest” my experiences of the last two weeks, especially the lessons with you.
I have to admit that it does not happen very often that I make compliments to my teachers, since I consider myself as a rather critical student. Please take my words when I am saying that I’m absolutely enthusiastic with your way of teaching and your way to make me feel comfortable.
This experience was without any doubt one of the most intensive and will remain unforgettable for me. Maybe it is nothing particular to you how you approach people, but I want to express that from now on I am not only an admirer of you as an artist but also of your entire personality.
Thank you once more for giving me this impressive experience. I do hope to stay in contact with you. Perhaps there will be an opportunity for a next trip to Santa Fe!
I hope that my enclosed diary is satisfactory to you. However please feel free to do any amendments or improvements.
All the best for you and your wife. Warm Regards,

Tim
Hello folks,
I am Tim Ohlsson a clarinet student from Germany. In 2002 I graduated in classical clarinet in Basel, Switzerland. Since then I've been continuing my studies in Jazz. Eddie Daniels´ music is of great interest to me. Not only of him as an artist but also because of his achievements in music.
Thus I decided to get in contact with Eddie - and luckily found a possibility to have a 4 days one-on-one course with him.
The 1st day Eddie welcomed me in his beautiful home in the hills of Santa Fe. Due to his kindness and empathy my nervousness disappeared instantly.
Although I had intended to focus on Jazz pieces only, he gave me 2 Rose-etudes, one slow to check sound-quality, the other one to check technique and articulation, for sight-reading.
On the one hand he made a comment about my nice sound, but on the other he criticised my indistinct articulation. He further added that I should be able to play the fast etude in a straight tempo without any rubato. In other words, after 2 minutes only, Eddie had pointed out strong sides as well as weak sides of my playing- without any doubt a good teacher's quality which I think only a few persons possess.
Then I was asked if I had a piece to play which I had played/practised on my own previously. I selected a clarinet-concerto by a romantic German composer named Louis Spohr.
I only played the first 20 bars but it was enough to work with.
                                          
"Technique has to sound easy, it must be like butter, like silk…," which was Eddie's statement on these passages. But Eddie did not only work on so-called basics with me, he NEVER forgot to make the music and feelings become alive! !
Suddenly he switched to "Giant Steps" and gave me a short but impressive impression of his virtuosity on this tune, live as well as on tape- a recording during a workshop in 1982. Really, really great! Smooth but quick fingerings with total control over the instrument but still with much heart!
The main message he gave me this day was that there is no difference in approaching classical music or Jazz: Starting very slowly, being aware of every note you play, till you feel comfortable. Then you should increase tempo step by step without loosing this feeling.
The last piece we worked on this first day was "Confirmation". Eddie advised me to create and write down nice, fluent lines, leading one chord to the next one in the most elegant way.

1

For homework Eddie asked me to practise the bars of the clarinet concerto to make them sound more fluent and relaxed. Then I should practise 1-2-3-5-permutations on the chord progression of "Giant Steps", doubling each chord as preparation for fast notes.
Finally Eddie told me to write an improvisation on "Confirmation" with good connections between the chords- and writing a diary!

Besides from his own playing I was fascinated by his way of teaching:
Picking me up at my individual level, working with me on the music, combining technique and emotions, being critical but friendly and motivating at the same time! Just great!

The 2nd lesson with Eddie was the day of "Eddie's-special-exercises for Tim":
First he came up with a dominant-tonic-exercise in fourth in 1-2-3-5/8-5-3-1-permutation which looks like this:

1


The 2nd exercise he gave me uses the same progression, but with Dominant-7-chords. In this case the permutation is 3-5-7-9/7-1-5-3:

1

Eddie advised me to practice these two exercises starting at a very slow tempo, increasing the tempo moderately till I would be able to play the progression in a fast tempo without too much thinking or being stressed.

The 3rd exercise is a training for Jazz-articulation. The basic is a mere major scale (can be any other scale, of course), but as Eddie showed me even a C-major scale sounds like Jazz played with a jazzy articulation. As a help for imagination, Eddie gave me a very special hint:

1

Of course, this exercise requires a tempo which allows focusing on a clear and easy-going articulation…

The last exercise Eddie showed me is for "filling the space between two beats," as he explained "this is what Jazz is about" in his opinion. The material consists of a C melodic-minor scale played down. Again, every other scale can be used.

1

The goal of this exercise is not to count the notes between the beats but to feel the space between them and fill it with notes in a natural, not in a mathematical way.

Again I was impressed by Eddie's exercises, not because the notes or connections are new to me but especially the last exercise gave a total new approach to something I thought was already familiar to me.
A lot of great stuff to play, so I started checking it out right away after my return to the hotel.

The 3rd lesson the next day started with a 2-in-1 warm-up-exercise. Eddie played different notes and intervals in every register of the clarinet and I tried to catch them. Some I got immediately, others after I had tried a few times. But most important it made a lot of fun and was really inspiring to me.

Then Eddie started modifying the rhythm of 1st exercise given me the day before to make it sound real Jazz. Here are four examples how to transfer a more or less classical rhythm to Jazz:
please refer to Appendix IVa-e - Coming soon
The notes remain the same but the result varies very much from the original. For me it was quite hard to transfer the original to each of the four modifications. But this requires my brain to work and not only my fingers!

After this I showed Eddie my lines I had written on "Confirmation". He seemed to be quite pleased and subsequently he asked me to improvise on this tune. As I did not catch all changes clear and smooth right away Eddie asked me to play first only quarter notes then half notes and finally even whole notes. There I found a suitable guide-tone-line which he recommended me to use to build my solo around.
please refer to Appendix IVf Coming soon
Finally we spent a little more time on the Spohr clarinet concerto, where we worked on this F7/ Bb major cadenza:
please refer to Appendix IVg1

Eddie advised me to continue this phrase to the lower f and come back to the high f again which I did like this:
please refer to Appendix IVg2

Amazing how Eddie combines the fields of classical music and jazz, as he said:" All you need for jazz lies in this music!"
How right he is!

The 4th and (unfortunately) last lesson started with a closer look on the F7/Bb major.-cadenza of the clarinet concerto. We found out that this figure consists of a F(7) triad with diatonic tone above - and leading tone below -ornaments:
please refer to Appendix Va& Vb

As I almost expected Eddie asked me to transfer the idea of grace notes to a F-Blues which led to the following result:
please refer to Appendix Vc

The last exercise we did was "playing" with the bass line I had written on "Confirmation". Eddie now started to create totally new colors by just adding grace notes and varying the rhythm in some parts but without changing the line.

Obviously it is not necessary to improvise with new lines only. It is at least as amazing to experiment with ideas on pieces you already had played before.

Summary
I really had a great time with Eddie, and I would like to come back again to benefit more from Eddie's great experiences. It is amazing how familiar Eddie feels both in Jazz as well as in classical music.
And even better, he finds ways how to achieve the same at my level. There is no need to separate my practising into two different fields (classic and Jazz), i.e. it is much more effective to combine them. The key is how to realize this but Eddie gave me a lot of inspiring ways to find it.
Thank you Eddie for these four most exciting and comprehensive days, thank you for working with me, playing music (and tennis)!!!

 

 

 


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