I taught a 90-minute “Intro to Jazz Guitar” clinic at Hamilton International Middle School yesterday. I met the band director several months ago when he bought my saxophone via Craigslist. He discovered that I’d studied jazz guitar, and he asked me to come in and deliver some tips and tactics to the guitar players in his bands.
I thought the clinic was a great success. I had a wonderful time working with the students. We focused on major scales, how and why to learn them, applying their structure to different keys and chord types. The kids ranged in guitar experience from about one year to five years, but I was surprised at how quickly all of them picked up the material. Over and over, I introduced and explained a concept, then asked them to apply it in new ways (i.e. “Find that scale shape for E major” or “If a dominant 7th chord uses scale degrees 1 3 5 b7, what notes would those be for F7?”), and there was not a single roadblock. Throwing this stuff at adults always takes a few weeks to click, but these kids gobbled it up like a grilled cheese sammich in one session. Well done!