Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


July/August 2015: Walle Larsson

Jazz Camp

Written by:

Jazz Camp at the University of Manitoba is right around the corner, and we’re all excited for another year. Over the last twenty-plus years, Jazz Camp has become a hub in the community. Every August, participants have an opportunity to tap into artists who have traveled around the world with this music, and to engage with others in this particular kind of musical conversation.

At the heart of Jazz Camp is a willingness to pass along information about the art of improvisation and performance and cooperation and collaboration, the stuff that is essential to progress in the field of music, whether it be jazz, pop, folk—it almost doesn’t matter. Even classical musicians benefit. This is good information about being a musician!

Jazz Camp participants get a lot of different experiences in a six-day span. They have instrument classes to refine their technique and soak up the advice of an expert. They work in small ensembles, forging musical friendships. The masterclasses open doors into bigger musical ideas and strategies, and daily jam sessions help even the most timid players take center stage for a few minutes. By the end of the week, all the small ensembles are ready to share their work with appreciative audiences. It’s amazing how many musical miles get covered in a single week!

I see Jazz Camp as an incubator. The reviews from participants are off the charts, so they’re enjoying themselves—but they’re also learning, and that’s a big part of the pleasure we feel as instructors. We see kids (and adults) come back year after year, and we watch them grow and develop. They come up through our ranks and take their place in our community, running The Hang, taking on leadership roles in Jazz on Wheels and the Big dig! Band, leading ensembles at Jazz Camp, sharing music of every flavour on stages around the city and across the country. One of them even wound up on the Jazz Studies faculty!

This August, we’ll continue that long-standing jazz tradition of sharing knowledge and technique and joy and beauty. We look forward to meeting the new arrivals!

Jazz Camp gave me the tools and the confidence to express myself freely. I’ve made some amazing friends and…been put on the path to becoming a better musician.

Marc Tugby

Without a doubt the lunch hour jam sessions were the most fun thing about the camp, not just for the fact that it’s an opportunity to freely play music, but for the fact that it is entirely inclusive to all ages and skill levels. 

Matt Derraugh

What I enjoyed most about Jazz Camp was being a student and teacher simultaneously. Musically it helped me realize that I don’t have to master all the jazz theory before playing, and it inspired me to listen to other musicians more keenly when playing in an ensemble.

Elizabeth Semenchuk

The U of M Jazz Camp offers crucial experience young musicians don’t otherwise have access to. Masterclasses with various first-call New York jazz musicians, daily lunchtime jam sessions in a welcoming environment, small ensembles composed of musicians at your level of playing, fundamental lessons in music theory, constant exposure to new music—the list goes on. As a musician, long-lasting connections like the ones stemming from the intimate week of education at Jazz Camp are invaluable in creating opportunities throughout the rest of my life.

Aaron Bartel

It was a rare privilege to be able to learn from the U of M Faculty Band whose playing experience, teaching skills, depth of knowledge and enthusiasm challenged me to go beyond what I thought were my limits. Not one of them would accept the words “I can’t.” For six days, all I heard was: do it again; don’t stop; you’ve got it—you just need to practice; don’t talk—play, don’t read—listen, always in warm, supportive voices in a milieu that can be hard and competitive. Don’t pass up this opportunity.

Kim MacRae

Jazz Camp is a great opportunity to meet new people and immerse yourself in a musical environment where you’re surrounded by like-minded individuals, all while learning about the music from some of the most knowledgeable people around. Educational, inspirational, and just plain fun!

Max Osawa

I first attended jazz camp when I was going into grade 7. I attended for seven consecutive years, and those experiences made me not only want to study jazz at the U of M, but also to become a professional jazz musician.

Connor Derraugh


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