LA PLUME TWP. – Over the past six years, Tanner Synder has spent hundreds of hours practicing on his beginner’s drum set in the basement of his Moscow home, slowly teaching himself the basics and developing into what he describes as a “pretty good drummer.”
Now the 11-year-old is performing solo acts in front of a group of advanced drummers and learning from some of the most renowned clinicians in Northeast Pennsylvania.
Tanner, the youngest participant in the group, is among the 21 musicians enrolled in the fifth annual Keystone College Jazz Institute, a five-day intensive program, which began July 23, that focuses on various elements of music, including harmony, improvisation and rhythm section techniques.
“I joined (the program) because it’s a great opportunity for me to learn from some of the best,” Tanner said. “Plus, it’s fun because I love drumming.”
This year, six musical clinicians are directing the classes, including Tom Hamilton, a saxophone specialist, Tony Marino, an acoustic and electric bass educator, and Marko Marcinko, the founder of the program who has performed with well-known jazz musicians such as Joe Henderson and Michael Brecker.
The classes feature a variety of activities, such as jazz theory and ear training, vocal styles and techniques, private instruction and performance and practice analysis.
But most important, they provide each participant with an opportunity to perform as a unit – not just as an individual, Mr. Marcinko said.
“Initially, we separated them into smaller groups so everyone got more attention,” Mr. Marcinko said. “But it’s really about the process of learning to play with one another.”
Three-year participant John Andrews, 17, of South Abington Twp., agrees with Mr. Marcinko’s premise. However, he says this program is unique because of the lack of musical programs offered in the area.
“It’s hard to find a program like this, where aspiring musicians can learn from some of the best,” John said. “Schools are cutting a lot of musical programs. This is one of the few places where sports take a back seat to music.”
The participants are scheduled to perform at the Scranton Jazz Festival at 4 p.m. on Aug. 5.
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