What would you ask jazz legend Herbie Hancock if you had the chance? Students in teacher Brian Austin’s Advanced Music Technology class were lucky enough to hear their questions answered by the 14-time GRAMMY award winner for an hour and a half.
Hancock is family friends with sophomore Ava Roth, a student in Mr. Austin’s class. She took the questions the class came up with and interviewed Hancock on Zoom.
“I was extremely excited to find out that she had been able to interview him and we were able to share the interview with the class,” Mr. Austin said. “The thoughts he shared with us were from seven decades of such an amazing career and covered songwriting, performing, touring and advice on getting into the music industry. To have a musician of his caliber able to take time to meet with Ava was a true honor!”
One student’s question was — what advice would he give to them? Hancock talked about everyone as a human family, telling them, “Find what fills you. Music is not about notes; it’s about life. You learn from things that don’t work. You learn from having to suffer. You learn from adversity. It’s part of living. One of the great things about life is living the battle. What amazing joy there is… I’m looking forward to the future. A lot is going to depend on you guys.”
District Music Supervisor Deborah Keough talked about watching this incredible experience, “This comment of his was very meaningful, and speaks to the concept of student voice in music.” Hancock told the class, “Writing [a song] has always been hard for me. I think about purpose first. Why do I write a song? What is it that I want to convey to the audience? How do I want to speak to them?”
“One of his songs, Chameleon, is our SJHS Jazz Ensemble’s favorite way to end every concert,” Keough said.
Superintendent D. Joseph Corr was overjoyed to learn of this opportunity. “What an incredible experience for music students! How many times do you get to speak with a 14-time Grammy winner and music icon! They will never forget this experience,” Mr. Corr said.