Workshops

The members of Alive! offer a variety of workshops that can be presented either individually or in conjunction with a performance.  Areas of exploration include women in jazz, vocal and instrumental improvisation, hand drumming, and group singing. 

Women in Jazz - A Conversation with Alive!
Learn about the evolving role of women in jazz through a dynamic discussion with these accomplished women. This group lecture presentation can be given in conjunction with a concert. Band members include Barbara Borden on drum set and percussion, Carolyn Brandy on congas and percussion, Susanne DiVincenzo on acoustic bass and cello, Rhiannon on vocals and percussion, and Tammy Hall on piano.

Drumming in the Power of Now! Step by Step Improvising and Soloing
BARBARA BORDEN

All levels, all kinds of drums
A vital, refreshing, fun-filled exploration…Relaxing…showing up…staying present…Bodies connecting to the inner pulse - the great heartbeat of life…No mistakes, just new takes…Letting go into the flow while following the musical muse…Step by step we go… Fear recedes into the joy of creating anew in each moment… Becoming comfortable with the unknown as it unfolds…simply trusting. Allowing judgment and criticism to recede…Choosing awareness, discernment…Inviting the lightness of being as you become one with the drum. Open heart…solid beat…rhythms abound…you’re in for a treat!

Film Screening and Discussion: Keeper of the Beat    BARBARA BORDEN
Barbara Borden, began drumming at age ten. From the beginning, she understood the transformative and enlivening nature that drumming and music provide.  Borden is the subject of Emmy-award winning filmmaker David L. Brown’s documentary, KEEPER OF THE BEAT: A Woman’s Journey Into the Heart of Drumming, receiving the Runner Up Audience Award for the Best Documentary at the 2013 Mill Valley Film Festival. kobmovie.com

Afro Cuban Percussion    CAROLYN BRANDY
Rhythms, songs and history of the Orisha, which are natural powers such as the ocean, rivers and wind.  We will learn Bembe, a rhythm that comes from Cuba .  This folkloric rhythm with its songs and dances originally came from the Yoruba people of Nigeria. We will be using conga drums, bells and voices.

Intermediate Conga    CAROLYN BRANDY
We will be learning beautiful Afro-Cuban rhythms for the Conga and accompanying percussion instruments. We will also focus on playing with good technique.

Basic Skills for Hand Drums    CAROLYN BRANDY
This class will focus on the very beginning lessons for drums: how to hold your drum, good technique and drawing beautiful SOUND out of your drum.

More workshops with Carolyn Brandy

Piano in a Jazz Rhythm Section : Trust Your Ear!   TAMMY HALL
A good, grooving rhythm section is essential to any ensemble.  The keyword here (pun intended), is GROOVE.  The rhythm section is in essence, the basic jazz trio and the interaction between the piano, bass and drums influences everything.  We will explore the relationship between the piano, bass and drums, as a trio/rhythm section, as well as the relationship of the piano to the horn section in a large ensemble.  We will discuss the role of the chart, especially for piano in the rhythm section and how much to rely/not rely on it.  Voicing too, is an integral part of the 'sound' of good rhythm section and we will look at, listen to and discover the intricacies of good voicing. Understanding these relationships will help you to become a better overall player and improve your ear.

Jazz Bass: An Introduction   SUSANNE DIVINCENZO
An Introductory jazz bass workshop on electric or acoustic bass.  One goal of this workshop is to be able to construct a walking bass line using blues changes. We will start with the basics, tonics and fifths and learn how to connect notes sensibly to walk through blues changes. An additional goal is to learn how to play a bass line over latin changes. This will involve studying various rhythms that complement the Latin bass changes

Improvisation For String Players    SUSANNE DIVINCENZO
(violin viola, cello) The goal of this workshop is to learn how to improvise over changes in a jazz tune. We will start with a basic scale and learn how to use that to improvise melodically just using one chord.  We will then expand our approach, using Freddy Hubbard’s Little Sunflower to learn how to improvise over a 3-chord tune which falls in an ABA form using 8-bar phrases.

The Mystery and Method of Vocal Improvisation   RHIANNON
Rhiannon has built her process for teaching vocal improvisation on the idea that we must be solid in musical skills, develop intuition and be available to the mystery and grace that exist when creating music spontaneously.  In this class we create our own music in a safe and dynamic circle of singers. We each find our unique and personal sound, working alone, in pairs, and in ensemble as we meld intuition and invention with skill and heart. We delve into connecting the forms of spontaneously composed music and storytelling. Rhiannon’s many years in the theater as well as her life in music have resulted in this being a dynamic and natural blend. We hone our skills in melody, harmony and rhythm as well as vocal tone, texture, and dynamics, stretch our intuitive courage, tell our stories, then take our voices wherever we have always wanted to go.

The Improvised Performance    RHIANNON
Because Rhiannon believes that improvisation belongs in performance, she has developed a process to make improvisation stage-worthy. This series of exercises unfolds in a carefully articulated progression. Working in circle, students first improvise melody, harmony, rhythm, counterpoint and interlocking parts in solo and small ensemble games. Then in learning to improvise as an ensemble, with exercises using the natural connection of body and voice, they learn to reveal a vulnerable, authentic sound. They also practice using language, both invented and in their native tongue, sung and spoken, as part of their musical repertoire. Many of these games become strong performance pieces and teach the singers how to invent a group sound without a leader. Learning to improvise as an ensemble with shared responsibility and power teaches deep listening, generosity, courage and musical awareness.

Vocal River: The craft, spirit and community of voice and body in improvisation   RHIANNON
With her new instructional/autobiographical book, Vocal River, in hand, Rhiannon  creates music in a safe and dynamic circle of singers. You will find your place in the world of song and invention. Working alone, in pairs, and in ensemble, meld intuition and invention with skill and heart. Delve into the possibilities of spontaneous composition and the language of storytelling. Strengthen harmony and rhythm, vocal tone, texture, and technique. Hear your own song and learn new ones. Listen for song lines and sing your way back to your authentic voice. For sixteen strong singers with solid, inventive skills in rhythm and pitch. You must be comfortable singing in a group setting.