NEW ENGLAND CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC “TOP SPEED AND IN ALL KEYS” : CHARLIE BANACOS’S PEDAGOGY OF JAZZ. Book Box, a subscription that delivers hand-picked children’s books every 1, 2, that time he also studied privately with Jerry Bergonzi and Charlie Banacos. Charlie Banacos was a music guru. He taught on the North Shore for almost 50 years until , reaching perhaps thousands of musicians all.

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Thank you for interesting in our services. We are a non-profit group that run this website to share documents. Chalie need your help to maintenance this website. Please help us to share our service with your friends. Additional Ear Training and Improvisation Exercises…. Interview with Jerry Bergonzi………. Gregory Smith for his insightful comments, encouragement, and continuous efforts to help me shape the present research into a scholarly study.

He was always available whenever I needed his assistance. Many thanks to my comrade in music and life Panayota Haloulakou for her encouragement and support all these years. I am grateful to my good friends Stratis Minakakis and Darryl Harper for their encouragement, support, and help throughout my doctoral studies.

Last, but not least, I am much grateful to my parents Yorgos and Pagona for their continuous support.

Charlie Banacos

Several of my friends and fellow musicians brought up his name repeatedly, commenting on his teaching skills. Intrigued by these chaarlie, I decided to enroll with him for lessons myself. At that time, he had a two-year waiting list unless one was an active student at NEC or Longy School of Music, where Banacos was a faculty member. Fortunately, being an NEC student allowed me to start taking lessons in three days after I called.

Studying with him, I soon realized that he was teaching me based on a systematic curriculum, which was effective in expanding my strengths and overcoming my weaknesses. During my cahrlie weekly lessons, Banacos would work with me on a composition assignment, a set of left-hand and two-hand piano voicings in all keys, an ear training exercise, a Chopin Etude, a jazz tune, special exercises for piano technique, and scales.

Charlie Banacos: The Zen Master of Jazz Improvisation

Also, there was always time for duet jam sessions, jokes, story telling or discussions about music, politics, and history. From the time he opened the door until the time I left, he was very positive, encouraging, and highly attentive.

He cultivated a warm environment in which I felt I was making tremendous progress every week. I always had the feeling that I had a mentor who cared in a way a brother or a father would —without him being paternalistic.

He always expressed his ideas and conveyed instructions with a balance of seriousness and humor. He introduced new Kordis 2 exercises by drawing funny cartoons next to them, which I felt was a powerful and inspiring way to connect with the material.

His instructions were most of the times philosophical, which allowed me to interpret his exercises in a variety of ways. He was happy to see that I was expanding on ideas coming from his exercises in my compositions and improvisations. He never criticized or attempted to change any single note in my compositions, but rather gave me new material to work with.

For my part, I also admired Charlie for his piano playing. He improvised using ideas that clearly reflected his wide knowledge of jazz piano history, and it was clear he wanted me to use them in my improvisations in order to expand my jazz vocabulary. So, in every lesson we would play together and, that alone, made me feel responsible and eager to practice diligently so that I would be in a good shape in order to come up to his level.

At the end of six months of study with Charlie Banacos, my playing and my composition skills were transformed. I felt completely liberated on the piano and ccharlie of playing anything I wanted effortlessly and without any technical limitations. Stunned by these results, I began bookks my enthusiasm with friends and colleagues, telling them about the impact his teaching had on my playing.


Several of them were studying with him at the time and reported experiences similar to mine. Kordis 3 the foundation on his playing and thinking about music. His ear training exercises helped me chrlie my intonation and with developing my own sound and my own way of singing standards without copying other singers. He sees structure where I see chaos. He is a genius. Accessed on October 3, I determined to record for posterity some insight into bookd means and materials by describing a representative sample of the exercises he assigned and advice chralie gave.

This paper is not intended to be a historical thesis, but a study and description of the jazz pedagogy methods of the recent Charlie Banacos.

The most revealing information, which will be discussed in detail later, has come from personal interviews with 35 of his former students. He also did publish five books betweenwhich he later allowed to go out of print. Another useful source of information comes from his personal communication with students as well as from testimonials in jazz periodical literature such as Down Beat, Jazz Player, Musician Magazine, and Saxophone Journal.

Jaki Byard was one of his most influential mentors, as well as a friend. Before he received a degree in Music Education from Lowell State Teachers College, Banacos had studied jazz on his own from an early age through 12 Selected transcribed excerpts from interviews conducted by the author, are presented in the Appendix A. Personal interview questions posed to 35 students are listed in the Appendix E. Kordis 5 transcriptions and live performances. In his interview with Novello, Banacos narrates about his early music education chatlie first teachers: I used to cop as many of their licks as possible and this in turn gave me fast ears.

I used to have a player piano and, of course, this helped me to hear all the old piano rolls and a lot of ccharlie masters who played them. By the time I was eight, my father, who books a former Big Band singer, could see I had a thing for music and wanted me to learn to read. I eventually had about 14 different classical teachers, but the one I still think back to with a fondness […] is Joey Kahn, who I studied with in my early teens.

He knew the names of all the things I had been copping for years, and he also played great be-bop piano. He would even take me to jazz clubs to see the cats who happened to be in town. He also attended jam sessions, performed constantly, and spent as much time as he could with prominent jazz musicians in various jazz clubs around the greater Boston area in those days, young people under the age of 18 were allowed in these clubs.

My father often talked about sitting at the bar and ordering a Coca-Cola. He was very lucky he could hang out in these clubs and ask questions of the players. My father, interested in asking Oscar about a specific fingering Art Tatum used, hounded him over several nights seeking an answer.

Oscar said something like “Well, I can’t show you here, there’s no piano. Let me buy you a drink. Source Productions, Barbara Banacos, email, 26 February Kordis 6 John Abercrombie, and Charlie Mariano, among others. Given his overall experience, talent, and versatility, he could have had a successful international performing career, but decided instead to withdraw from bbanacos performing appearances in his mid twenties in order to devote himself exclusively to teaching and family, although he continued performing every day with every single student in his studio.

His devotion to teaching and pedagogy is apparent from the fact that he was offering private lessons from the age of Since then, he taught thousands of students, according to Barbara Banacos. He preferred to teach one-on-one, and in the course of his career he had various studios in the greater Boston area.

I asked Banacos, as did several other students, why he withdrew from public performances. Using a metaphor of monks and preachers, he banacs violist Mihalis Katahanas that he quit performing in favor of teaching because: In every religion there are the boosk who are touring all over the world to preach about religion, and the monks, who sit in a basement, practice for themselves, and teach others.


Charlie Banacos: The Zen Master of Jazz Improvisation

I am the monk. Mihalis Katahanas, interview by author, email, 8 March Full interview is listed in Appendix I, page As a solution, I describe a few exercises in detail and some others in outline. Knowing him for bookss years, I am firmly convinced that it was not his intention to have his exercises published because it would be against the character and essence of his pedagogy.

Banacos designed and utilized exercises in a similar way that a doctor carefully examines a patient and provides a specific prescription that will help that individual only. Below, is his own description of his teaching philosophy: There is no method! Upon hearing each student, I immediately have a method that will work for that particular student and no other.

But there are certain techniques of musical composition that all modern musicians need to know and be able to use, either in precomposed settings or spontaneously. I might even use some written exercises with more than one student, but explain them in a totally different way for each student.

He also assumed that you could also figure all this stuff out on your own if you wanted to, it wasn’t some closely guarded banqcos. He was a very charismatic teacher, who conveyed the material by cheering up the student with a joke, but he would be strict at the same time. Pianist Dave Frank, for example, who had lost his father and considered Banacos a father figure, mentioned that one day Banacos suggested ending the lessons.

Although Banacos acknowledged the difficult time Frank was going through, he suggested that Frank should not go back for lessons until he showed proof that he toured and performed for a year. Bassist Bruce Gertz, on the other hand, mentioned that he was very studious and Banacos 25 Bruce Wolosoff, interview by author, email, 10 September Kordis 11 Exercises and their Effectiveness The pedagogy of Charlie Banacos consists of a repertoire of exercises that cover various aspects of musicianship.

For purposes of description, I have organized them in groups, according to their pedagogical purpose. Banacos mentioned to me and other students that he developed many of his exercises based on the actual practice of master performers. The exercises cover nine facts of technique and musicianship–which I have organized in Sections A – I. In Section A, three popular ear-training exercises plus a meditation practice are presented.

These exercises are useful for the development of various aural skills, such as relative pitch, perfect pitch, and intonation. Section C includes a list of names of voicing exercises for chording instruments, such as piano and guitar. Banacos taught composition to a variety of instrumentalists and singers.

Some of the exercises included in this section were intended to further enhance instrumental technique. Banacos gave practical advice and used metaphors that were shaped and phrased to address the needs of individual students to ensure that they had fully grasped the essence of the exercises or broader concepts. Some of this advice is described in Section I. These chord types constitute the basis on which Banacos designed most of his exercises for various purposes.

He told several students including me that every student should recognize them aurally and practice them as arpeggios, piano or guitar voicings, or other formations, and most important, practice them in all keys.