LJS 89: How to Develop Time Feel and Up Your Rhythm Game

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Welcome to episode 89 of the LJS Podcast where today we have special guest drummer and composer Dorota Piotrowska on the show to talk about time feel and rhythm. These are some of the most important aspects to focus on to improve your jazz playing, and Dorota has some killer tips to share. Listen in!

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It’s surprising that throughout all of the years that Learn Jazz Standards has been around, some of the least common questions I get are about rhythm and time. I tend to get a lot of questions about harmony, theory, scales and improvising, but not about rhythm and time.

However, rhythm and time are some of the most important elements to develop in your playing. You can play all the right notes and know all of the tunes, but if you don’t develop a time feel and rhythmic sense, all of that isn’t going to feel quite right.

That’s why today on the show I have special guest drummer and composer Dorota Piotrowska. She’s an expert on this stuff and a brilliant musician. She talks about her early musical beginnings in Poland, to eventually moving to New York City to pursue a career as a jazz drummer. She also shares her tips on rhythm and time.

One of the things I love about the tips she shared in today’s episode is they aren’t the textbook answers. She doesn’t simply suggest you practice with a metronome and call it a day. Not even close!

She spends a lot of time talking about dancing, singing, and even utilizing harmony to inform your time feel. Here are some things we talk about:

  1. Dorota’s musical beginnings and how she decided to become a drummer.

  2. Some of the biggest struggles musicians face with rhythm and time.

  3. How getting lost while playing a song is more of harmony problem than a rhythm problem.

  4. How singing and dancing can help you develop that internal clock.

  5. Focusing on the melody of a jazz standard as a rhythm and not simply notes.

  6. Dorota’s jazz workshop in Poland.

Important Links

Dorota’s website

New York Jazz Masters International Workshop

Read the Transcript

Brent: All right, what’s up, everybody? My name is Brent. I am the jazz musician behind the website LearnJazzStandards.com, which is a blog and a podcast all geared towards helping you become a better jazz musician. You know, I don’t do this enough, and that is thank you for being here and thank you for listening. You’re the ones that keep this thing going around, and it’s really an honor for me every single week to get to serve you, to help you become a better jazz musician, because that’s honestly what I’m passionate about. I love this music and I love teaching it to other people. I’m just so honored to have an international audience listening to this every single week and visiting the blog every single week, so I want to thank you for listening. Thanks for being here.

Now, today’s episode, I’m very excited because I have a special guest on the show, and that is drummer and composer Dorota Piotrowska. She’s from Poland and she’s actually one of my former roommates in college, and she is awesome. She is a powerhouse musician, and today, I’m having her on because she is really an expert when it comes to rhythm. Today’s episode is all about developing time feel and upping your rhythm game.

This is something that a lot of people aren’t asking me questions about. I get emails every single week, I get comments on blog posts, I get questions on the LJS podcast hotline. Everybody’s asking about things like scales and harmony and all this great stuff that’s really important, but they’re not asking about time feel and rhythm, which are the most important aspects of becoming a better improvisor, of really locking in your musicianship. So I want you to pay special attention to today’s episode, and I’ve got an expert on to do all this. Without further ado, let’s get on Dorota Piotrowska.

All right, and welcoming on the show today is jazz drummer Dorota Piotrowska, also my former roommate in college. Welcome to the show, Dorota.

Dorota: Welcome, everyone.

Brent: Thanks for being here. A lot of my audience probably doesn’t know who you are, so it would be awesome if you could just give us the two-minute Dorota Piotrowska bio: what you do, who you are, what you’re all about.

Dorota: I come from Poland, and I’m a jazz drummer and composer. I began my first steps in Poland drumming there, then I moved to the Netherlands and I spent two and a half years there at different schools in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. From there I moved to The New School, so I transferred and I graduated in 2012, and since, I’ve been traveling, touring with different bands, my own groups included, and different other projects, such as Sisters in Jazz, a very interesting one.

I also founded my own jazz workshop called New York Jazz Masters that’s taking place in Poland in Lower Silesia region.

Brent: That’s so awesome. I’m actually really excited. We’re gonna talk about that later, because it’s actually a really cool project you’re doing. You mentioned that you went to The New School, and just so everybody who is not familiar with The New School who’s listening, that’s The New School for jazz and contemporary music in New York City, right? That’s what you’re talking about?

Dorota: Yes, absolutely. That’s the one.

Brent: Awesome. Killer school. Yeah, like I said, me and Dorota were … she was one of my roommates, and so we got to play a lot together. Dorota’s an insane awesome drummer, and that’s why I am so excited to have you here just to talk. Honestly, I’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time, so I’m super excited just to dig in a little bit further about you, because my audience, they just want to know: how did you get to this point in your musicianship where you are today? How did you reach this level? I’m also excited to find out too. Let’s just start with: tell me about how you got started playing music. Was it something that you got from your family, or what was that moment where you jumped into music and started getting into it?

Dorota: That started when I was a tiny, little girl and I used to go to my neighbor’s house. I think I was maybe, like, five years old. Whenever my parents couldn’t find me, that would mean I was at my neighbor’s house banging on the piano because I liked the sound so much, you know?

Brent: Yeah.

Dorota: I guess that’s where it started. Then I played classical piano for seven years, and when I was in high school, just accidentally, a friend of mine gave me sticks because the drummer wasn’t there, and he said, “Okay, so why don’t you just play the drums?” I was laughing and thinking, “Oh, okay, this is just for fun.” I sat at the drums and I never stopped since. It was sort of a very revealing experience. I don’t know what turned me on later on to treat it more in a professional way, but in the beginning, I think it was a sort of freeing experience in a sense that classical music, which I’d studied as a pianist, was very rigorous. You had to read notes and you had to follow and you cannot really invent stuff on your own.

Then when I sat at the drums and I realized, “Oh, okay, so I can actually do this and I can do that.” My first experiences were more with rock and reggae music. I discovered jazz a little later on, and I think discovering jazz was really what made me think of drums as something I could do in life-

Brent: Wow.

Dorota: … like consider it as a serious career, because rock or reggae music, I feel like, sort of keep you in a certain space. With jazz, you are free to express your spirit in some type of way. At least, that’s how I think of it, and that’s what made me go for it. And then specifically one summer in Paris, I remember I was playing with a Cuban band back then in Poland, and I was walking through the streets. Right before then, we were touring a little bit and I was listening to the Cuban music, and then I thought, “Man, this is so amazing. Why I am not doing music as a career? Why wouldn’t I do this all my life? This is so beautiful.”

That was a moment where I turned on that track and that’s when I applied to the Amsterdam Conservatory, and that’s how it all started to grow. I just put my full focus and attention into music.

Brent: So when you were playing with the Cuban band, you were playing drums?

Dorota: Yes. Well, actually, timbales.

Brent: Oh, timbales. Okay. For some reason, I have this memory of you showing me some picture of you when you were in a band when you were younger, and you were playing the piano. Is that true, or … I feel like you’re missing out on a really important part of your music education.

Dorota: Well, yes, I used to play piano in a reggae band. That was the total beginnings of my career, and at that time, I already started playing drums, but I was a total, total beginner, so I think I couldn’t hang in any band back then. I was learning from my older friends.

But yeah, I think piano was something that had a crucial effect on how I later understood music, and the fact that I understood harmony, because I think if you want to be a jazz musician, and I’m not specifying any instruments right now. I’m thinking general. You have to have a good sense of harmony and you have to have a good sense of where the music is going, and not only in jazz, I think in every kind of music, but you have to have a sense of what the form is, where the harmony goes, and what’s your role in all of this. To understand that, you have to develop your ear.

I think that this first year is when I was studying piano, and even though it was classical piano, I was studying [inaudible 00:09:11] and all of that. That’s where my sense of harmony comes from, so I think that was very important.

Brent: Okay, that’s interesting that you’re saying that, because I’m a guitar player. Everybody knows that, and I come from this very harmonic … it’s almost like the … We’re gonna talk today about rhythm in a second, which is super awesome because you have a lot to talk about that, but that, usually, for my group, my side of things as an instrumentalist, tends to get left out sometimes. But you’re talking a little bit about drummers and percussionists and how sometimes maybe the harmonic aspect is missing, but that that’s super important.

I’m wondering really quickly, just for those who are listening right now and going, “I am a drummer/I am a percussionist. What do I need to do to kind of get this better harmonic sense?”

Dorota: Well, here, ear training is the way to go. If you don’t really have much background in learning to play piano or such things, then I think you should at least sit at the keyboard once in a while. I had this friend, a trumpeter, Wayne Tucker, and he gave me a very good idea. He said, “I would take very simple songs, pop songs basically, that would be based on three or four chords, and that’s where I started.” If you have no previous experience, just try to see where the music goes with simple pop … You can take Stevie Wonder songs. These are beautiful, and so they’re inspiring to learn, and they are not very extremely difficult like the jazz harmony.

Then when you start to get a little sense of where things are going, you can add things up and see how more complicated chords sound to you. That’s how you get the basic sense of that.

Brent: Gotcha. So yeah, just to reiterate, it’s obviously important if you’re on that side of things that you’re getting that harmonic sense coming in, and of course vice versa we’re gonna talk about soon, with rhythm. But a little more, I want to try to dig … Again, I think you might have mentioned that you’re not sure why you chose drums ultimately, but I just want to ask you: is there something specific about the drums that … I don’t know, that just stood out to you more than anything else, that just made you go … because you said, “When I started, I was touring, I was in Paris, and I was just like, ‘Why would I do anything else in my life than do this?'”
What was it about the drums specifically that were just like, “Yes. I love this. This is what I want to practice for hours and hours and hours every single day”?

Dorota: That’s great. I think saying “I don’t know” was not exactly appropriate way of saying what I feel about drums. I knew it was about drums exactly when I discovered what jazz was. There was a very specific show I saw. It was a Polish saxophone player with American lineup. I remember Billy Hart was playing drums, and that specific show changed my entire way of thinking of jazz drums … actually, about drums just entirely. The way the sound of the drum, but also the way he was playing, it was just such a freeing kind of experience.

First of all, the drums was, for me, a way to kind of take away things that I wasn’t feeling good about, like all the kinds of angers and frustrations. That was the space where I could just be myself, because my nature is very calm. I’m a very calm person. I’m not very assertive. I’m not good at saying no to people. Because of that, I feel like sometimes I get pushed around a little bit, and I do think that I don’t necessarily want to do or I don’t know to say no. Drums was the way for me to kind of free all that energy that was building up of not saying no, of taking stuff from people. That was a way for me to free myself from all of that, and it gave me that freedom, as I mentioned, to express myself, not only the anger later on, but all kinds of emotions: emotions of love, emotions of beauty, emotions of … you know.

But I think is what music is about, expressing yourself, and the skills we learn, those are just the skills that will help us release whatever we need.

Brent: Yeah, that’s … Wow. I love what you just said. That’s … yeah, you just basically said why music matters at all and why we love doing this so much. It’s a way better answer than why I play the guitar. The answer for me is I was just playing rock and I thought it was cool when I was a kid, so I bought a guitar, and then I discovered jazz and thought it was so awesome, but I only kept playing guitar because that was the only instrument I knew. Obviously, you connect with the drums so much more than I do the guitar. I mean, I love the guitar. Don’t get me wrong.

Anyways, I loved your answer. That was really great. Thanks so much for … I just really appreciate you sharing about your story, because I think that our stories are super important, especially when it comes to becoming a better musician, to actually pay attention to that stuff and why you’re into the instrument you play and what got you into the music, because that can really influence everything that happens after that and the decisions and the choices that you make.

I want to transition a little bit over to our main event today, which is something that … Man, it’s actually been a long … and I feel guilty, because it’s been a while since we’ve done an episode about time feel and rhythm, which hands down, have to be some of the most important things in music, and especially when it comes to playing jazz. Just for some short answers from you really quick without too much explanation, what are some of the biggest struggles that you see in musicians when it comes to rhythm and time?

Dorota: That’s a very good question, and that, I think, the answer lies in many different levels. The first thing that I see is that we each have a certain internal clock. Let’s say I’m practicing my rudiments and I use a metronome, and we all tend to practice with a metronome, because of course, this is where the outside source is. We all try to be there with the metronome, but I think the problem is that then when we play together, we are so attached to this, “Okay, I’m right. My internal metronome … I was practicing with a metronome for so long, so I’m right,” that we not to listen to each other, you know?

I think every amazing band, the amazing part about it is that they listen to themselves. If you listen to Afro-Cuban music, they tend to speed up, but nobody says, “I’m staying here, because actually, we started with the quarter note at 100 bpms, so I’m staying here. I’m not going with you guys.” No, you will not see this. In every great band, they just tend to stay together no matter what. If you listen to the old records, that’s what happens.

So I would say yes, practice with a metronome, but then when you go on a bandstand or when you go to the rehearsal space, listen to your fellow musicians that are playing with you and try to work on the time that you have all together.

Brent: That’s awesome. That’s … wow. That’s a better answer than I was even thinking in my head that you might say. Listening, which is hugely important when it comes to playing with other musicians, and I think that’s a powerful thing you said, just because you were talking about something I feel like all musicians who, especially musicians like us who do it professionally, have experienced is getting onstage with some stubborn band members, or even yourself being stubborn about how you think it should go and, “Oh, that guy is dragging. That guy, he’s rushing.” But when it comes down to it, time feel and rhythm and all this stuff is actually elusive when you’re bringing a bunch of different individuals together. So I definitely think that’s great advice.

Now, one thing. Let’s step back a couple steps, though, a few steps back, because there’s a lot of people in my audience … I get this question all the time. People email me and they ask me all kinds of questions, and one question I get all the time is: “I’m trying to play this jazz standard. I’m trying to play with the metronome. I’m trying to play with a backing track,” whatever it may be, you’re just jamming with somebody, “but I just don’t feel like I can play in time. I just can’t do it.” It’s tough for them.

For people that are there in that situation, what are some things they can do to start building that inner clock, start training themselves to start feeling that time organically?

Dorota: Okay. First one, and it’s huge, and I know some people will not like that answer, but you have to dance. You have to dance to the music.

Brent: Love it.

Dorota: Why is dancing so important? The fact that our body knows to move to a certain rhythm gives it a sense of freedom and a natural kind of flow to itself, and so when you’re playing a solo, even when you play quarter notes, it’s somehow, you’re moving your fingers as well. Those are micro-movements, and when you’re dancing, it’s like the whole body is moving. But that’s how, inside of you, there starts to be a certain understanding.

This is why you see some hip hop musicians, or many kinds of musicians, actually, that dance at their instruments. Sometimes I would look at Greg Hutchinson, who is an amazing drummer and mentor of mine and great teacher. Sometimes I would look at him and he would be playing a jazz standard swinging like crazy. And then I see him and he’s dancing. He’s dancing on the chair and using his all four limbs to do something else, but he’s basically dancing on the chair.

Brent: Right.

Dorota: I mean, if you have that kind of flow in your body, it will help you immensely to develop a time flow in anything that you’re doing later on on your instrument. So just dance. Put on music, put on an old Duke Ellington record, big band record, or Count Basie, and just walk around your room and just move. Move your body. That would be number one.

Number two, singing. Singing the rhythms is huge, and that’s what every Cuban musician, African musician will tell you, and rhythm comes from Africa, so it’s good to listen to these people. They know what they’re talking about.

Brent: Yes.

Dorota: They can vocalize any rhythm that they play. So I think once it goes through your vocals, through your vocal chords, and you start to understand it on a different level, even if you are not a good singer, just try to sing it the way you can. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. It doesn’t have to be the way they do this. You can just find your own version of the rhythm or the phrase you are trying to play, and sing it to yourself over and over and over again, and you’ll see that you’re gonna be able to play it.

Brent: Can you give us a little example of what you’re talking about? Putting you on the spot here.

Dorota: Yeah. I sing rhythms for myself. If I can’t understand the rhythm, I’ll just do like … (singing). I found my way of vocalizing for me is a bass drum cat, it’s a drum like a snare drum, you know? It’s not something that I learned from a specific person. I started to go through the music I was learning and I was like, “Hmm. I don’t really understand,” and it didn’t go, it didn’t go right, and didn’t go the right way or … (singing). You know? It’s like a simple type of para-diddle pattern that I would learn.

First, I would go (singing), and remember, you don’t have to even have an instrument to do that.

Brent: Right.

Dorota: So you can be on a bus, and you can be going in your mind: (singing), and move your body to it. (Singing). First of all, it’s a trance-like experience in some kind of way, but it also will develop an internal clock inside of you and understanding of that rhythm you’re trying to sing, you know?

Brent: Yeah. Wow. I’m blown away right now. This is awesome, and I think one thing that I’m grabbing from this right now is the first two things that you mentioned, which is dancing and singing, these are primal-like things. These are things that everybody can do. This is built into our system here, our bodies, is to do this. I remember taking a class in college called African Percussion Ensemble with Neil Clarke. Do you know who Neil Clarke is? He’s a percussionist.

Dorota: No, no, I’ve never.

Brent: Okay. Yeah, he played with … Oh, now I’m forgetting. No, nevermind. I won’t go there. Anyways, he’s an excellent percussionist. That’s the point I’m trying to make. Anyways, he was talking about how … One exercise he had us do one time was simply just while we were walking down the street, to just be aware of the rhythm of the person walking in front of you, when they’re placing their feet and when they’re lifting it up as if that’s the downbeat and the offbeats. Of course, he didn’t call it that. He called it the on and the before. He had this whole thing, because he was really going into the deep side of what this is all about, and just even the fact that your heartbeat, its rhythm is ingrained into our body.

So I think these are phenomenal things that you’re talking about. My audience has heard me talk a lot about your training, having your training course and how important that is. I love, also, how you said, “You can do this on the train. You can do this on the bus.” You can do any of this stuff while you’re on the go, so I think that’s really great. Is there more?

Dorota: I think those are the two main things, but also, there was one more exercise that I wanted to share, and that’s specifically with the drummers.

Brent: Okay.

Dorota: That was the Ralph Peterson’s exercise. He would also make a same, just the rhythms of standards which we were playing, and sing is one thing, but mainly play them. We would have to specifically just play the rhythm of the standard on the snare drum first, then we would play the same rhythm filling in triplets, so everything would be a triplet and the note that was actually in the tard or part of the melody would be the accented note. So it’s how you will build on the understanding of the rhythm of the song, and I think it’s a good thing. Just don’t focus on the notes for a minute. Just take it as a rhythm, like a simple … You don’t think of standards as being just rhythmic patterns, but the truth is, they are, and you can try to play them in so many different ways, but once you understand the rhythmic pattern of the tune, that might help you actually understand what’s going on when you add the notes. So that’s another tip.

Brent: Awesome. Yeah, I think you’re actually starting to go into my next question I had in mind for you here, so we’ll see how you can add onto this. One thing that my audience also asks me a lot and that they struggle with is getting lost in the middle of a tune.

Whether they’re playing with other people, whether they’re playing with a backing track or a metronome, doesn’t matter. Just getting lost and just losing their spot. I feel like that kind of relates a lot to time feel and to rhythm feel and all this stuff.

I’m wondering what you think that they can do to … if any of this stuff you’re already talking about is related to that, or what they can do to help avoid that from happening.

Dorota: Well, I think here, we are dealing with a different problem. It’s not really so much a rhythm problem.

Brent: We are.

Dorota: It’s more of a harmonic problem.

Brent: Oh, interesting. Okay.

Dorota: Yeah.

Brent: Feel free to elaborate.

Dorota: From my experience, whenever I knew the song so good that I would know exactly what the bass player is doing in that moment, you can’t get lost because you’ll always catch up on him. If you’re only thinking of your quarter note and you’re counting the bars, losing the bass player and the piano player … especially, sometimes they get lost between each other. I played many gigs where suddenly I would hear, okay, I was with the bass player and the piano player was half of the bar ahead of us, or a quarter of the bar ahead of us, and then he would play one quarter note before the bass player. Then what do you do in that moment? If he doesn’t hear that he’s lost, then either we have to catch him, or sometimes the three of us would be in a different place. That’s a complete mess, but you have to find yourself in it.

I think here, the main thing is know the tune so well that you will always be with the piano player or with the bass player, or if they are together, which is the ideal situation, you will catch onto them. So, two things. Learn the harmony of the tune, but that’s a little bit difficult. Melody is the main thing. Just keep singing the melody throughout the tune. Sometimes what I would do not to get lost, is I would learn the melody so well that when someone would start to play solo, I was humming the melody to myself while he was playing solo. That way, I would always know, “Oh, okay, we’re going to bridge now. Okay, we’re going to A1.” Things like that.

Again, Ralph Peterson would tell us the basslines. He would go as far as learning the basslines on some of the standards that he would really want to know in depth. He would go to the records, take a good recording, and just learn the bassline, because the bassline is where it’s at, where the harmony is at. That way, you will always know where you are.

Brent: Right. That’s a great tip, yes. It’s not so much rhythm, then, you’re saying. It’s more of a harmonic thing. Definitely the melody, that’s a … If there’s one thing everybody should take from this episode as in regarding to this, that is the key. Know that melody forwards and backwards. Like you said, it gets tricky to get lost if you really know that melody really well. Great tip on that. I really appreciate that.

Now, let’s move a little bit to talking about improvisation with rhythm, okay, because this is something that especially a lot of more beginner, intermediate players that don’t play … well, I’m sure percussionists have this struggle too, but they have issues adding rhythmic variety into their improvisation. Are there some things that they can do to incorporate a little bit more rhythmic variety in there rather than just streams of eighth notes or quarter notes?

Dorota: Yeah, absolutely. The answer is very simple: listen to more music and transcribe more music. I know it sounds a little bit cliché, but unfortunately … We are learning a language. It’s a jazz language, or whatever kind of music you study, you’re learning a language. So when you’re going to Afro-Cuban music, you’re also learning a language. The only place to learn a language is if you go to the country or if you listen to the TV or if you’re listening to podcasts in that language, lessons in that language. The same thing is with music, and we have the recordings. The records are where it’s at.

If you want to expand on your rhythm ideas for playing jazz standards, go to the records and hear who is your favorite piano player who does rhythmic, interesting figures? Go and transcribe that and learn it. If you’re trying to learn more of Afro-Cuban type of … you know, just go to the records. Actually, I would recommend for everyone to listen to Afro-Cuban music, and the reason is because there is no other kind of music in the world that’s more diverse in terms of rhythm. A lot of what’s happening in jazz comes from there. The triplet feel, I feel like it all went from Africa then to the Caribbean, specifically Cuba, and then it went up New Orleans and so on and so forth.

I would really recommend to everyone, just try and listen. Even if you don’t understand, just listen to it, because it will develop a certain sense and more ideas for you.

Brent: Okay, so if someone has no clue where to start with listening to Afro-Cuban, could you give some great starting point examples, maybe artists or groups that they should check out?

Dorota: Yeah, absolutely. They should definitely go check out Chucho Valdéz. Chucho Valdéz is the Cuban pianist that’s just … you know, and his father, Bebo Valdéz, actually. That’s even the older generation in terms of where that goes. Who else? There is a great band called Havana D’Primera. It’s kind of a more modern Cuban music, but … who else? Let me think. You can also just type in “rumba.” Any kind of rumba where you have … Rumba is specific, not so much about melody. Of course, melody is involved, but it’s all about drums, dance, and singing, so there is nothing else involved. If you go and look for that, that would also be really great.

Brazilian music is wonderful for learning rhythms as well. I would recommend listening to this artist Djavan. You spell it out D-J-A-V-A-N. Djavan. Some of his records. I mean, that’s where the rhythms come from, and of course the jazz records, but I would say start with that.

Brent: Everybody listening right now, if you are … We do have a little bit to talk about bossa nova if you go to episode 70. Go to LearnJazzStandards.com/episode70. We had a great guest, Livio Almeida, on the show to talk about bossa nova. There’s definitely some more resources for that there.

Dorota, I want to talk a little bit about what you’re doing, because you’re doing some really cool stuff. I want to hear a little bit about the workshop that you’re doing in Poland. Why don’t you talk to us a little bit about that?

Dorota: All right, the workshop. The workshop is a very exciting idea. It’s been already two additions. There have been two additions already, and the first one was two summers ago, so in the summer of 2016. This year we had another one. The workshop is called New York Jazz Masters. If you would Google “New York Jazz Masters Poland,” you will find plenty of information. Our website is www.NYjazzmasters.com. I encourage everyone to check it out.
What’s so original about the idea of that specific workshop is that in this part of the world, eastern Central Europe, is, as far as I know, the only workshop where we have only American jazz musicians to come and teach, and it’s not just any American jazz musicians. This year, we had Aaron Goldberg, Mike Moreno, Matt Penman, Kendrick Scott, Judy Niemack on vocals, and Greg Osby on saxophone.

Brent: Wow.

Dorota: It was truly a dream team.

Brent: Yeah.

Dorota: We have, this year, actually, the 2017 edition took place in a palace, so we literally lived in a palace, all of us, and all the classes took place in that palace as well. We have ensemble classes, instrumental classes, special topic, listening sessions, we have concerts every day and jam sessions. It’s very much focused on playing. The ensembles actually have to perform. Each ensemble has to perform in the course of the week, and then there is the final concert on the last day. In the meantime, we also go to visit a jazz club in, which is the nearest biggest city. The scene is for us so we can jam. There’s usually also one or two bands that are playing during that, so opening concert the night.

It’s a really wonderful workshop. We have a lot of resources on our website and on our Facebook page also, so you’re very welcome to check our Facebook page. And yeah, we invite everyone to come next year. The faculty will be announced very soon for the coming year. Some teachers change, but we always have the best of the best.

Brent: When is it gonna be this next year?

Dorota: It’s always the first or second week of August.

Brent: Okay, awesome. That gives people plenty of time to apply and check this out. How long does it go for?

Dorota: It goes on for a week. It’s seven full days. You would come a day before and you would be placed in an ensemble, meet your teacher, and then from day one to day seven, you have full days of classes.

Brent: Awesome. It’s actually-

Dorota: From 10 to 6 every day, and then in the meantime, you have lunch and then you have, of course, jam sessions every night opened by a band.

Brent: Right. So this is like a full-fledged jazz workshop with a killer faculty, and you’re leading the charge here. This is super awesome. So everybody go to NYjazzmasters.com. You should check this out and really … I mean, maybe I should be going to this. I might think about going to this, Dorota. I can finally visit Poland and check it out, see what it’s all about. That’d be super cool.

Then as far as people going to check out you, where can they go check out more and learn more about you, maybe check out some of your music?

Dorota: Yeah. My website goes exactly as my name goes, so DorotaPiotrowska.com. I’ll spell it out for you.

Brent: Yeah, definitely. Actually, that’s my name, too. No one can spell my name.

Dorota: It’s D-O-R-O-T as in Tom, A, and my last name: P-I-O-T-R-O-W-S-K-A, .com.

Brent: Awesome. DorotaPiotrowska.com. Dorota, thanks so much for unloading a ton of really valuable stuff on my audience today. I feel like I learned a lot today just by listening to you, and that’s one of the reasons I love having guests on, especially guests like you. Thanks for being here, and I hope to have you on the show again sometime soon.

Dorota: Yes, thank you so much, Brent, for inviting me. I really feel honored to be here and to be able to share some of my experiences with all of you. I hope it’s helpful. I hope you all get to where you want to be, and you know, simple things sometimes can get you very far.

Brent: All right, that’s all for today’s show. I want to thank you so much for listening. Thanks for tuning in, and another special thanks to our guest this week, Dorota Piotrowska. I learned so much from her, and I’m sure that you did too. If you want to find any of the links to her stuff, by the way, go to the show notes today. It’s LearnJazzStandards.com/episode89.

Now, we’re gonna have plenty of other guests coming up on the show. Lots more where this came from, so keep listening, keep tuning in week after week. And as I always say at the end of every single episode, if you got value in any of this podcast episode, consider giving value back by simply leaving a rating and a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast listening service. It helps other people find the show, takes about two minute of your time, really helps us out, so go ahead and do that.

Now, next week’s episode … In episode 88, actually, an episode ago, I talked about my list process for learning jazz solos. Well, but what happens after that? Do you just move on to the next solo? Do you just move on to something else entirely different? Or is there something else you can do or things you can do to get more out of that time investment that you spent on learning that solo? Well, there certainly is, and that’s what I’m gonna be focusing on in next week’s episode, 90. Looking forward to seeing you back then.

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Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for learnjazzstandards.com which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publications “500 Jazz Licks” and “Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar.” To learn more, visit www.brentvaartstra.com.

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