Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Jazz composer Mike Tomaro teaches Jazz clinics during Jazz festival

Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Special guest Mike Tomaro performs at Jazz Band Festival on Feb. 1, 2019.
Photo by Kate Marshall ~ Photo Editor

Southeast students in the music department were in for a weekend filled with jazz, Feb. 1 and 2, as they got the chance to learn jazz concepts directly from renowned composer and arranger Mike Tomaro at the River Campus.

Four sessions were held in total, two on Friday and two on Saturday. The attendees comprised mostly of high school students from 27 high schools in the surrounding region and St. Louis.

Tomaro went over several jazz concepts ranging from odd meters, solos, etc. Sophomore film major Bennett Turner said he learned, through the one session he attended, where to begin soloing and how to expand on what he already knows.

“[Mike Tomaro] taught how to improvise solos. What he taught works on all instruments,” Turner said. “He talked about how rhythm can impact a solo just as much as notes, and the importance of Learning scales. He also talked about how to use different modes to spice up your solos.”

Throughout the sessions, Tomaro didn’t stick to lecturing but also demonstrated the concepts he was teaching playing the saxophone, the instrument he’s known for.

The composer said jazz can’t be taught to those without a basic music background.

“This music demands a bit of knowledge,” Tomaro said. “It’s a challenge and there’s so much musically that you need to know.”

Turner thought he was given a great opportunity to learn at the hands of a renowned artist.

“Having a famous professional guest musician give a free clinic is not something that happens all of the time. I wanted to get as much valuable information as I could,” he said.

He also recommended his fellow musicians to come to the clinic at the Jazz festival next year.

Turner said he had learned “basically everything” about music from YouTube. “I think a lecture like this has helped me gain more information that I couldn't get from YouTube.”

The music business is competitive like any other show business. For that reason, Tomaro recommended versatility as the main skill for an upcoming musician to have. He already played Klezmer, Polka, and Pop music aside from jazz.

“Be able to play everything you can, soak up everything you can,” he said. “Ultimately, whenever it comes down to it, even if I talk about it as a passion as most musicians do, it’s about learning a living too and in order to do that you have to be hirable.”