A drummer with Tambolele A drummer with Tambolele CREDIT: Queenstown Jazz Festival Trust

Queenstowners mix it with the music masters

Tuesday 13 October 2009, 11:38AM
By Queenstown Jazz Festival Trust


Music lovers can learn from top musicians at a range of workshops to be held at Labour Weekend (Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 October) as part of the development programme at the ASB Queenstown JazzFest.

The low-cost sessions are part of the festival’s strong community focus and are open to anyone who wants to pick up techniques and ‘trade secrets’ from some of the world-class performers appearing during the ten-day live music event.

Lewis McCallum, one of New Zealand’s most extraordinary saxophonists, kicks off the weekend with two workshops on Saturday. Saxophone Techniques will cover ‘letting go and playing with feeling’ as well as tone, embouchure (where to place your lips and tongue) and how to get the most from practice. Following this, in Jazz and Modern Music, Lewis will discuss the directions in which modern music is heading and show how jazz penetrates current styles.

A Caitlin Smith Masterclass on the same day will enable vocalists of all levels to learn from Caitlin, who coaches some of the country’s finest jazz and contemporary singers including Hollie Smith, Anika Moa and Open Soul’s Bjorn Peterson. Caitlin’s session will cover the techniques and attitudes required to find maximum potential and the ‘personality’ of the voice you already have.


Rounding off Saturday’s sessions will be Tambolele – Drum Rhythms of Minas. For the first time in New Zealand, this hands-on workshop will introduce the unique afro-rhythms and instruments of Brazil’s Minas Gerais region. The techniques can be applied to any percussion instrument so participants will learn with whatever instrument they chose to bring along, such as hand drums, shakers, or even a biscuit tin with a lid and some dried beans or corn.


On Sunday morning, Di Bird is hosting a forum tailored for independent artists about arranging sets and promoting their music. One of Sydney’s most prolific jazz singers, Di will share her knowledge gained from years of experience on what works – and what doesn’t – in the music industry.


Improvisation is the theme of Nigel Gavin’s workshop from midday. A guitarist of note, Nigel’s session explores the principles of improvisation relating to any instrument including the voice. He will take participants through ‘being present in the moment’ and ‘embracing hazard and making it your friend’, all with a sense of playfulness.


Finally, Julie Bevan will get toes tapping with ‘Rhythms, Samba and others’. Julie specialises in Samba but will teach the methods needed to learn any rhythms, the distinguishing factors between them and how to incorporate them into your own music.

Queenstown Jazz Festival trustee Nicola Lindsay believes the workshop programme is a fantastic opportunity for locals of all ages and musical abilities to learn from top quality musicians.

“It’s not about how good you are, it’s about learning how to use your instrument or voice more effectively and enjoying yourself in the company of artists at the top of their game,” she says.

All workshops will be held at Queenstown’s Performing Arts Centre in Stanley Street and organisers recommend that reservations are made in advance through the normal ticketing outlets. There will be door sales on the day but numbers are limited.

The ASB Queenstown JazzFest runs from 17 to 26 October and brings music to the masses in a 10-day live music celebration which showcases a breadth of jazz styles from New Zealand and around the world.

This year the festival has more than 100 events - more than 90 of them free - held in bars, pubs, clubs and cafes throughout the district. Free concerts will be on at the Village Green every day of the festival apart from Tuesday and other community ‘spotlight’ stages will be set up for performances at Earnslaw Park, Remarkables Park and Arrowtown on Labour Weekend.

Festival tickets can be purchased online through, at Queenstown i-Site (corner of Shotover and Camp streets) or by calling TicketDirect on 0800 224 224 (03 450 9110).

Note: All workshops will be held at Queenstown’s Performing Arts Centre in Stanley Street.

Saturday 24 October
Lewis McCallum Workshop
Saxophone techniques
10am – 11.30 am
Price $20

Lewis McCallum Forum
Jazz and modern music
12pm – 1pm
Price $10

Caitlin Smith Masterclass
Contemporary vocal
1.30pm – 4.30pm
Price $40

Tambolelê Workshop
Drum Rhythms of Minas
6pm – 7pm
Price $20

Sunday 25 October
Di Bird Forum
Arranging sets/promoting your music
10.30am – 11.30am
Price $10

Nigel Gavin Workshop
Improvisation – guitarist but more about thinking about improv.
12pm – 1pm
Price $20

Julie Bevan Workshop
Rhythms, Samba and other
2pm – 3pm
Price $20