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Peer Review

Exploring Jazz Arranging; An Online Interactive Multimedia Text

by Chuck Israels


Overall Numeric Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 3.5 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Jun 30, 2009 by Music
Overview: Online course in jazz arranging lets you read about , watch and hear the techniques in action via the Garritan jazz instrument virtual library. Course is self-paced, free and you don't have to sign up to become a member of the forum in order to see all the lessons. This is not an active course but meant to be a teaser for an upcoming text to be published by Garritan.
Type of Material: HTML and Adobe Flash.
Recommended Uses: As a complement for a jazz arranging class or as a self-study guide.
Technical Requirements: A browser with Flash and multimedia support.
Identify Major Learning Goals: With this course you read about the various concepts and you watch and listen to the various animated score examples to understand the concepts. Learn basic jazz arranging techniques.
Target Student Population: Conservatory, University or high school students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Basic knowledge in chromatic harmony, general theory, music reading and practice in jazz.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The content is presented in a sequence of 19 lessons. Rhythm, Bass Lines, and Harmony are presented in the first 5 lessons. Rhythm section (2 lessons), writing for 2, 3 or more voices and writing for the whole band. Form, Melody, and Orchestration are presented in the remaining 5 lessons. The narrative is clear and easy to understand. Musical examples are presented in interactive score format with very effective audio. A wind instrument accompanied by piano and rhythm section plays each selected example. The user is guided along through the score as the music is performed. nformation is very clear and the examples are of top quality.
Concerns: The user needs some background in theory, jazz playing, music reading to be able to profit. The form related topics are not very clear or at least seems to me to be a little out of focus. Others like harmony may need further development. As they are they may be useful for readers with more background.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3.5 stars
Strengths: The user is able to retrieve each lesson and work at his or her own pace. Lessons may be used in the order presented or in whatever order best meets the needs of the learner. One need not follow the lesson sequence in order to gain skills and understandings.
Concerns: The user forum format may not be the most effective. It would make sense if users would post related questions and receive answers. It is expected the user will be able to play along or at least perform the examples if needed. An above average performing ability on a jazz wind instrument, i.e. saxophone is highly desirable.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: This site is actually a link that is part of a larger and what appears to be, a commercial web-based orchestral music and instrument library source. That said, the instructional tool is highly interactive and most effective as an educational forum that engages the user in a large learning community of jazz enthusiast. Music audio files load quickly and are of superior quality. The site is formatted in a way that allows for individualized self-paced learning.
Concerns: Registration is needed in order to post and edit threads, replies, and attachments. The user is allowed to retrieve and read post without registration.

Other Issues and Comments: Upon initial login the user may become a bit confused since this online instructional package is embedded in another site. Various links to additional commercial sites may cause some confusion. Overall the Jazz Arranging Lessons are user friendly and allow the learner to proceed with a sequenced, interactive online course of instruction. The material is presented in a forum based format.