Students ‘stretch’ their talent at jazz camp |

Students ‘stretch’ their talent at jazz camp

The idea of playing music without notation is what classically trained flutist Barbara Price always found daunting about jazz.

But after participating in the five-day jazz camp organized by the Sierra Jazz Society last week, Price said she “gained so much more understanding of music” and got over her fear of improvisation.

“Being in the jazz camp stretches me as a musician,” said Price, who works as a software architect for IBM. “The faculty are incredibly good musicians. Just the privilege of playing with them would draw me back here (next year).”

The jazz camp, which took place at the Nevada City School for the Arts on Bitney Springs Road, drew 55 students ranging in age from 10 to 70, Artistic Director Bill Douglass said.

Eleven instructors – consisting of five local musicians and six jazz players from Davis and the Bay Area – offered lessons in piano, bass, vocals, reeds, brass, strings and percussion at the camp, said Douglass, who has played the double bass and the bamboo flute in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1965.

All the faculty members are Douglass’ friends and acquaintances; he has known them since 1970, he said.

Though the camp isn’t specifically for beginners, a lot of students come with a tenuous knowledge of the genre.

“Most of the people who come don’t know how to play (jazz) very well, so we accept a lot of students who want to learn the basics of jazz improvisation,” Douglass said.

Each day at camp, teachers offered lessons in individual instruments in the morning, Douglass said. In the afternoon, students played in groups formed according to the level of expertise, he said.

The jazz camp ended Sunday with a performance in the evening at The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley.

“I think the audience will see a lot of joy and the fun we have in what we do,” Douglass said. “Parents of children who are in the camp will see their kids grapple with, and have a great time playing, the music.”

For more information about the jazz camp and the Sierra Jazz Society, visit


To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail or call 477-4229.

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