REPORT: Anita Wardell and Trudy Kerr's first Christmas Vocal Jazz Boot Camp

Anita Wardell (foreground) with L-R
Sam Leak, Clark Tracey, Geoff Gascoyne
Photo by Janet McCunn


Janet McCunn was a student at the first Christmas Vocal Jazz Bootcamp run by Anita Wardell and Trudy Kerr. This is her report: 

As a Christmas/New Year present to myself I signed up to Anita Wardell and Trudy Kerr's Christmas Jazz Boot Camp and I couldn't have chosen a better way to round off the year!

This three-day course for 20 vocalists between Christmas and New Year took place in the London Centre of Contemporary Music near London Bridge, a stone's throw from Borough Market. The area alone was a treat for me, as I was unfamiliar with this vibrant part of London and felt spoilt for choice for places to go in the breaks. This was the inaugural course of the new Jazz Singing School which Trudy and Anita had been planning for some years, so I was proud to be one of the first group of ‘boot campers’, joining a friendly and enthusiastic bunch of vocalists, some of whom were new to jazz singing and some coming from as far away as Germany and Scotland! Anita and Trudy, who have been long-term close friends since they met in Australia, made an excellent team and balanced each other very well.

On the first day, after an introductory session and warm-up, we were split into two groups, taking it in turns with Trudy and Anita. Over the three days we covered many aspects of performing including vocal technique, rhythm, ear training, phrasing, scatting, vocalise, intros, endings, styles, vamps and voice quality in a supportive and fun atmosphere. The final day was rather challenging for me covering modal jazz (working on Milestones by Miles Davis) and transcribing solos by ear to ‘Sing along with Dexter’. This made me determined to work on my music theory before the next course! To round off each day we had a whole-group masterclass when we each performed a song of our own choice. The feedback from both teachers was firm, positive and helpful and the course worksheets very detailed and informative.

The course was enhanced by the superb musicians we were lucky to perform with and the excellent equipment supplied by the college including a baby grand piano. For many of the group sessions we were accompanied by pianist Sam Leak who was later joined each day by bass player Geoff Gascoyne. On the last afternoon we were joined by drummer Clark Tracey for the jam and the final evening concert, when all the ‘boot campers' sang well and shone with new confidence, demonstrating how much they had grown as jazz vocalists in just three days!

The next course is planned for summer this year and there will be online courses available too.

LINKS: Jazz Singing School website 
Our preview feature of the Christmas Vocal Jazz Boot Camp

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