Steve Treseler Music

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A Cure for Writer’s Block

POSTED ON October 13, 2015   |   Post A Comment

Writer’s block plagues creative artists from all disciplines. If you feel overwhelmed when you confront a blank page, a simple change in mindset can help you bust through this barrier.

Courtesy of Flickr/Vince Kusters


How to Empower Fearless Improvisers in the Classroom

POSTED ON October 07, 2015   |   One Comment

Most adults fear public speaking more than death, so we shouldn’t be surprised when our students are afraid to improvise in front of their peers. If you feel stuck moving past this anxiety, a simple solution can transform your program.

JazzClubsNW Middle School Improv Lab playing Panorama

JazzClubsNW Middle School Improv Lab


New JazzClubsNW Improv Lab

POSTED ON October 03, 2015   |   Post A Comment

I had a blast directing the inaugural JazzClubsNW Improv Lab at Boxley’s. I led a group of 14 middle school students through game pieces, conducted improvisations, and riff blues tunes.

JazzClubsNW is new non-profit organization dedicated to bringing educational programs and world-class artists to venues throughout the Northwest. It’s an expansion of Boxley’s, the member-supported venue in North Bend, WA. JazzClubsNW just launched venues and programs in Bellingham and Tacoma. Look for more Improv Lab classes in the future!

A Perfect 12 Measure Solo

POSTED ON October 02, 2015   |   Post A Comment

The intimate musical relationship between vocalist Billie Holiday and saxophonist Lester Young produced a profound body of work in the 1930s and 40s. When they reunited a decade later, a magical moment was caught on film.

In 1957, CBS produced The Sound of Jazz, one of the earliest network television jazz programs. The all-star ensembles featured featured Holiday, Young, Count Basie, Thelonious Monk, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Gerry Mulligan, among other greats.

Lester Young plays the most stunning one-chorus solo I’ve ever heard on Billie Holiday’s poignant blues Fine and Mellow. Lester plays after Ben Webster’s opening solo (1:26):


How to Transform a Poem into Music

POSTED ON September 28, 2015   |   2 Comments

Poetry has inspired musical composition for hundreds of years. If you have never composed your own music, setting a poem is a great place to start.

Courtesy of Flickr/Jameson Fink

Learn Jazz Through Process, Not Rules

POSTED ON September 25, 2015   |   Post A Comment
The people who only follow the rules – we don’t wind up knowing who they are. They didn’t make a difference. So we are taught to follow rules that were made by people who didn’t follow rules! That’s why, when I teach, I try to tell students, “I am telling you what other people did. Now I want you to go out and do something else, yourself.”

– Herbie Hancock, Interview in JazzEd

In a world of standardized tests and big band competitions, many musicians and educators are looking for a step-by-step rule book for jazz. Systems and manuals can help us build skills like sight-reading, technique, theory, but they don’t inspire great art.

Courtesy of Flickr/Sean Hobson


Rhythm Is More Important Than “Right” Notes

POSTED ON September 22, 2015   |   3 Comments

“Time and rhythm are king! Number one! All notes seem to sound good when they are played with good time.”

Jerry Bergonzi, Inside Improvisation: Melodic Rhythms

Jazz is rhythmic music. Groove, swing, and time-feel are by far more important than playing the “right” notes. Here is my entertaining attempt to prove it:


Expand Your Ears and Creativity with Drones

POSTED ON September 18, 2015   |   6 Comments

A drone is a sustained tone that accompanies a piece of music. Drones can be found in musical traditions all over the word. Indian classical music, Scottish bagpipes, Gregorian chant (organum), Native American flute, minimalism, and modal jazz are a few examples.

Practicing with drones is one of the most effective ways to sharpen your ears and inspire your inner music.


Courtesy of Martin Spaink/Wikimedia Commons


Are You an Independent or a Dependent Musician?

POSTED ON September 16, 2015   |   Post A Comment

If I asked you to perform a solo piece right now, would you jump at the opportunity or feel a jolt of fear?

If you are ready to play, I’d love to hear your piece. However, you may be one of the many skilled musicians who is paralyzed at the thought of playing an unaccompanied piece for an audience. I invite you to explore this feeling.

Alena Getman

Courtesy of Flickr/Alena Getman


How to Improvise Variations on a Theme

POSTED ON September 13, 2015   |   Post A Comment

A theme and variations approach engages new improvisers and provides endless inspiration for experienced soloists. Practicing this process will help you:

  • Improvise on any song in any genre
  • Create original and personal interpretations of melodies
  • Play clear and coherent improvisations
  • Embrace an approach utilized by jazz masters like Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, and Chris Potter

Jazz improvisations aren’t esoteric pieces of art that drop out of the sky. In the early days of jazz, musicians improvised by embellishing the melodies of folk songs, blues, and marches.


Portrait of Louis Armstrong by William Gottlieb, 1946

Courtesy of Flickr/The Library of Congress


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Photo credits: Jim Levitt (Main Page) | Daniel Sheehan (Blog)