In addition to performing, recording and touring throughout the globe, Damon Banks has been an active participant on the education frontier for several years. He has taught and / or conducted workshops at some of the most prestigious and progressive institutions in the U.S. and abroad. Some of these schools include: Bard College, Interlochen School of the Arts, Cal Arts, Medger Evers College, Roosevelt University, St. Ann’s School (Brooklyn, NY) and Poughkeepsie Day School.
Damon has an Arts in Education program designed for the improvising musician and composer entitled “Creative Artist Music Curriculum”. To find out more about it, feel free to scroll down and read the entire overview.
“Creative Artist Music Curriculum”
The goal of this interactive workshop is to:
1) Provide students with a rigorous, performance-based workshop that will develop and enhance their overall musicianship
2) Help students define and embrace their individual talents, strengths and abilities
3) Assist students in the understanding and appreciation of music from cultures other than their own
4) Create a safe, supportive, non-competitive environment where students can be free to experiment, take creative risks and explore different ways to express themselves through musical interaction
Target Age Groups:
Middle School music students (grades 6-8, ages 11-13)
High School music students (grades 9-12, ages 14-18)
College students (ages 18-22)
Damon and his team offer three different workshop/performance packages that can be modified and customized based on the target age group. Our single day (or 2 day) workshop will culminate with a performance for the entire school community by all of the participants involved. A detailed list of the materials that will be used for the workshop (repertoire, books, movies, sheet music) can be provided upon request.
Workshop # 1 “Improvisation workshop – using traditional Blues and Jazz forms
1) Instructors guide students through the playing and analysis of traditional song forms (including 12,16 and 24 bar blues formats) as well as standard material (including popular “jazz classics”)
2) Instructors help students use improvisational techniques including: “derivative vocabulary” (soloing based largely on the original melody) theme & variation, embellishments, chord tone emphasis, target note & approach note techniques, pentatonic and tritonic scale usage (and applying them to conventional chord progressions) the exploration of scale motifs and applying sequences
3) Students learn how to incorporate the use of “melodic cells”, modes, rhythmic displacement and motive development (augmentation and diminution) in their improvisational approach
4) Instructors offer students various techniques on how to musically “react to each other”, develop conversations, create new languages and how to interact with “sound”. This includes: playing with fellow musicians, interacting with samples / audio loops, drones, noise loops and general ambience / sound design. A segment of this workshop explores free-form, open-improvisational music
Workshop # 2 “Spoken Word workshop”
Instructors guide students through the history of (and various approaches to) “performance poetry”. Music students collaborate with each other to create a performance-based poetry performance. They have the option of using popular works of poetry and/or original poems written by the students themselves.
1) observe a spoken word demonstration / performance led by the instructors
2) view selected video samples of prominent spoken word artists for analysis, discussion and research
3) create a culminating performance program that features the collaborative work of the students (utilizing music, poetry, movement and visual projection)
Workshop # 3 “Mixed World Ensemble”
Instructors will use rhythms and musical tonalities from around the world to help students compose and improvise using non-Western aesthetics and musical environments. In this workshop we will:
1) develop the students’ appreciation and awareness of global culture by playing (and performing) a balanced repertoire of music from around the world
2) assist students in the application of non-Western tonal, harmonic and rhythmic environments. The overarching goal goal here is to broaden students’ musical “toolbox” (and to enhance their student’s compositional and improvisational approaches)
3) utilize live concert footage and film documentaries for the purpose of musical analysis, individual research and open discussion
4) help students expand their ability to create rhythms, melodies and harmonic accompaniment based on Western and non-Western material. We will be using several genres of music as a model i.e.: Brazilian baion, Cuban son, Jamaican ska, Senegalese Mbalax, Puerto Rican bomba y plena, etc
5) organize a culminating performance led by the students that will include original pieces of music written by the students, as well as material brought in by the visiting instructors