Dave Askren


A little background about my educational philosophy and methods -

My experience as a student (and later as a teacher) at Boston’s Berklee College of Music was where I first learned about the structure and organization of music in a logical way. Private lessons, harmony, theory, ear training and arranging classes, with a wide variety of ensembles, taught by highly qualified, experienced - often world-renowned - teachers, all worked together to paint a picture of how our great art form is put together.

Additional private instruction with Charlie BanacosJerry Bergonzi and Mick Goodrick (and more) gave me even greater in-depth insight into the world of pedagogy and the organization of musical materials. Their methods are a “life’s work” and I still work on lessons they gave me to this day.

 Later on, in Los Angeles, when I went “back to school”, I purposely concentrated on “classical” music, to supplement my Berklee background, which was based more on a jazz/commercial music emphasis. I took complete class/cycles studying the various eras (Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th Century, etc) as well as “traditional” harmony, counterpoint, orchestral conducting, and classical guitar lessons, en route to a music MA.

The similarities between jazz and classical, in content, as well as cycles of style development became clear to me. My old friend and classmate Bruce Arnold, who also studied with Banacos and Bergonzi, has put quite a bit of thought and research into this concept, and has written about the lineage of music education that runs through Charlie Banacos, from his teacher, iconic classical pianist/educator Mme Margaret Chaloff, all the way back for a few hundred years! Here is a chart that Bruce developed, the upper part is Mme Margaret Chaloff's geneology, leading into Charlie Banacos and beyond. As you can see from the chart, Mme Chaloff not only taught Banacos, but is known as a mentor to a who's who of jazz - Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett.

Here are a few quotes from Bruce Arnold on the subject -

 “I recently found the music education genealogical chart of my teachers Charles Banacos and Jerry Bergonzi. Interestingly it is also a timeline showing the flow of the teaching of classical music into the teaching of its elements as applied to jazz. I think people generally don’t realize how the techniques used in composing and playing classical music are closely related to their counterparts in Jazz.”

 “Although it is hard to find much information on exact teaching methods prior to Czerny, when I perused his various books it confirmed that many of the concepts he taught were also taught by Banacos, Bergonzi, Chaloff and Vergerov having been passed down intact, and one can assume that these ideas were picked up from their predecessors, such as Beethoven, Mozart, and Haydn, as well as anyone who had studied with them.”

 “I found many basic concepts such as how to learn scales, arpeggios, ear training and rhythm could be traced from what I was taught by Banacos and Bergonzi back through to Czerny and presumably beyond.”

Bruce's full discussion on this subject - and much more great information - can be found on his website - http://brucearnold.com/