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 my first klezmer experience
Author: music_is_life 
Date:   2005-07-18 04:57

I just wanted to share my first ever klezmer experience with you :)

my clarinet teacher introduced me to klezmer music this year and I came to love it, purchasing several CDs and diligently listening almost every day. By the end of school I was attempting to play klezmer with the correct style and had been given a klez clarinet book and had copied several songs from other books and a kind of “how to” from a book my teacher owned. So I was hoping to form a Klez band at the music camp I attended at the end of June.

At camp a junior counselor stood up and announced that he was looking to form a klezmer band... I, of course, joined, having never played with other klezmer musicians and wished to have that experience, despite my own inexperience at the art of playing such music.

the first klezmer rehearsal was almost life-changing for me. We played a piece arranged by the JC who formed this band called “Miserlou,” which was a piece that everyone had the melody on, along with chords written at the top. He decided that it would sound bad if everyone played the melody, and that he would start with it, while everyone else was to play harmonies of some sort, improv, or play chords. I wasn’t sure how it would sound and I didn’t know the ability of any of the musicians in the room. and I must say that the band was a bit odd in it's formation: 1 trombone, 1 trumpet, 1 violin..for the first day only, 1 flute, 1 alto sax, 3 clarinets, 1 bass guitar, 1 drumset, 1 piano ...weird instrumentation, but it worked!
but I got up the guts to solo and the sax player and one of the clarinet players, who attends college and has been playing klezmer for quite awhile, said that I sounded great and asked me if I had ever played klezmer before.

We played on "ensemble night" and I must say that we were a hit! The second song we played was “Miserlou” and Jon (the alto sax player) and I soloed (first me then him) and people gave us a standing O, even though we told them in the beginning that we had 3 pieces! The 3rd song went just as well; people got up and danced to this one and once again we got a standing O. I was complimented by several people for my solo and the klezmer band was the talk of camp for a long while.

I hope I can learn more about klezmer and become better at playing, because I really do enjoy the music.

(oh, and thanks for reading this!)

-Lindsie



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 Re: my first klezmer experience
Author: Steve Epstein 
Date:   2005-07-18 14:15

Fabulous! And not really because you played klezmer (although that's great), but because you played from a lead sheet (that's lead as in "leed", not "led", just in case you didn't know) :) instead of what it sounds like you are used to, which is playing from from arranged parts. In this case, you learned to make your own arrangements from the chord "chart". You had to figure out what to play, probably played much "out of the chords" but that's okay; you are learning, and most of all, had to listen to the other players, to figure out if you were sounding good, and they to you, all of you, as well.

In these circumstances, soloing is the least important part. Anyone half-way competent on their instrument can solo. THE BEST MUSICIANS KNOW HOW TO MAKE HARMONY, HOW TO BLEND, AND WHEN/WHEN NOT TO PLAY. It's the reverse of orchestra/band playing, as if the third clarinet part were the most important part, simply because it wasn't there and you had to make it up.

Congratulations. You are making music.

Steve Epstein

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