Cassa Jazz: An experience in improvisation 

Cassa Jazz has proved to be an inspired addition to Cassa’s summer schedule. Derek Stoll, who teaches jazz theory at the University of Calgary and jazz piano at Mount Royal University, leads these popular workshops each July.  

The workshops cover the role of the piano/keyboard in jazz, including comping, the rhythmic chording provided by the pianist. Sessions also focus on soloing since improvisation is often considered to be the most difficult element to master when playing jazz. Participants study recorded works by the most renowned pianists in the genre, in order in order to better understand how styles and solos are developed. Workshop participants also play in a trio with a bass player and drummer to further develop their skills.

While a minimum skill and knowledge level is needed to take part in Cassa Jazz, participants have often commented how the sessions are structured so that everyone learns at a similar pace. No one feels left behind since the instructors always ensure that everyone understands before moving on to the next topic. The sessions are also flexible enough to adjust to each person’s requirements, if needed. Many participants appreciate the positive attitude of the instructors, along with their encouragement, patience, and willingness to provide feedback. Some participants have also commented how they are encouraged to step out of their comfort zone, especially when building up enough confidence to perform in public. 

Cassa Jazz is firmly established as part of our summer program each July and promises to be around for some time to come.

Further details and registration are available at

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