I am considering taking big band arranging up again after doing this with a teacher 17 years ago for about 1 year (plus 1 year before that doing arrangements for sax quartet). He was actually a woodwind teacher as that was what I was taking lessons for but he had me do arranging as well to develop my ear. I wrote about 8 arrangements of jazz standards for big band.
These were simple "old Basie stye" arrangements consisting of an arranged head, then solos with some simple riffs, and then back to the head and out to the coda. After I did an arrangement he would check it making any corrections etc, and then I would record it with a big band.
Since then my main focus has been jazz improvisation, but now I am thinking about going back to doing some arranging as well. So I was wondering whether it would still be best to get a teacher, or go the self study route. I have also been considering taking online lessons but don't know of anyone giving one-on-one instruction over the web. I note the interactive arranging course on this site as well.
Re: Big Band Arranging: Self Study or via a Teacher?
This question is a little complicated by an ancillary one; who might be available to help you learn? If there is an experienced person nearby, that could save you time and perhaps a number of missteps. I have done what I could to make the material in the book self explanatory, but that only works when there is a great deal of attentive listening to "classic" examples. I learned a lot of this by listening to and transcribing Ellington and Strayhorn, and I had already been oriented towards successful musical practice by my composition teachers. If there's someone around who is able to help, why not take advantage of the experience of others?
Your own experience can be a hard teacher: first the test; then the lesson.
Great site here! I've learned a lot, just by browsing superficially. Will need a lot more time to figure out how it works. I will tell all my students how great this place is.
And you're right: one needs some horns and a rhythm section for testing. I had a septet a long time ago, three saxes, one trumpet, piano, bass and drums. That's how I learned most: trial and error are the best teachers. Benny Golson once told me, when he was in Cologne, that he learned a lot from first listening very closely, then transcribing and then he started to write for two, three and more horns.
Tadd Dameron, his major influence, could write for just three horns, making them sound like more.
Thanks and best regards,
Here the complete Blue Skies, as played on the same occasion.