WMU News

Zegree hits high note with new vocal jazz book

Feb. 15, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Drawing on more than two decades of experience as a vocal jazz instructor and director, a Western Michigan University music professor has written a book that could become an indispensable tool for others working in the field.

In "The Complete Guide to Teaching Vocal Jazz (Including Pop and Other Show Styles)," Dr. Stephen Zegree provides an abundance of information that will be of use to a wide range of vocal jazz instructors, from novices just starting their own vocal jazz groups to more experienced professionals wanting to improve a choir program or expand its repertoire. Published by Heritage Music Press, the book explores a litany of topics, including jazz traditions, styles, theory, improvisation, rehearsal techniques, solo singing, sound reinforcement systems and staging.

In addition, 27 recorded sound samples are included on a CD accompanying the book, while a glossary explains the lingo of the business. A discography also will help readers begin their own CD collections and covers jazz artists over the past 100 years.

Critics already have given the new book a warm reception.

In a review set to appear in the March issue of the Jazz Education Journal, critic John Kuzmich said Zegree's book "is a superlative vocal jazz pedagogy guidebook for getting music educators into contemporary music instruction with emphasis on the organizational and pedagogical techniques that are essential for fundamentals for directing a vocal jazz program at the middle school, high school and college levels."

Zegree says the book culminates his more than 20 years of directing Gold Company, WMU's award-winning vocal jazz ensemble.

"When I travel with Gold Company and give concerts and clinics, I have been asked so often by music educators to put my thoughts in writing that I finally agreed to spend my sabbatical year writing the book," Zegree says. "The project represented a huge investment of my time and energy, but it was also quite a fun and rewarding experience, and it seems as though the result is a book that people have already said is the definitive text n this genre."

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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