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College Offers Unique Experience for Jazz Musicians

December 24, 2008
As a professional musician, Rich Manik brings a wealth of knowledge and practical experience to his faculty position in the Anoka-Ramsey Community College Coon Rapids Campus Music Department. As part of the college's associate in fine arts in Music or not, students can enroll in Manik's Jazz Ensemble course, a unique experience because Manik co-creates the course with the student-musicians who are actually in the class, based on their instruments, level of skill and the goals.
Rich Manik (shown with students)

Anoka-Ramsey Community College Music Faculty, Rich Manik (left, shown with students) believes that his Jazz Ensemble courses allow students to practice the real life skills necessary for them to become professional students.

"Some semesters, like this one, we have five basses and no percussionists," says Manik. "Last term, we had a violinist. It can be quite a wacky mix of instruments, and a whole lot of fun."

To address the varying instruments, Manik provides music for a specific jazz instrument, which the student-musician then needs to "transpose" for their instrument.

Manik, a working musician for more than 20 years, came to this approach through a narrowing of his teaching philosophy. Currently, his whole philosophy is summarized in two words: "accountability and applicability."

"The Jazz Ensemble course offers students a chance to be accountable for what they bring to the group," says Manik. "What they learn within the course is applicable to real world playing. They will see the dividends of whatever they bring."

Manik, who calls the course, "rehearsal" not "class" expects students to have a base level of skill, such as reading music, prior to beginning.

"There is little instruction on the individual instrument and more time simply learning to play in a group," Manik reports. "When you have five bass players, there is quite a lot of give-and-take. This is fun, serious business offered for one or no credit."

The experience and collaboration has lead several students to form bands after their Jazz Ensemble course has ended.

For more information about Manik, the Jazz Ensemble course or to explore the associate in fine arts in Music offered at Anoka-Ramsey Community College, visit http://webs.AnokaRamsey.edu/music/.