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Mentor nights introduce music students to the jazz scene

On the last Monday of each month, Carleton University music instructor Tim Bedner holds a Jazz Mentor Night at downtown club Café Paradiso to bring university students and Ottawa’s jazz experts together to perform.

BY JORDAN FALLIS | FEB 07 2011

Mr. Bedner, who teaches jazz guitar at Carleton, says the monthly event helps to promote the local jazz community and give aspiring musicians the chance to learn and perform in front of a live audience. “What I’m trying to do is grow an audience, help this jazz musical community flourish and give back what was given to me.”

Mr. Bedner says while studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, he performed with his teachers at restaurants across the city. But, after moving to Ottawa, he discovered that very few young students attended the city’s professional jazz performances.

“I really wanted [students] to be aware of what was going on in the jazz music scene here,” he says. “So I thought if I could make an opportunity for them to play with these jazz professionals and hook them up in a mentoring situation, they’ll want to come out.”

John Geggie, a professional double bassist who served as a mentor back in September, says it’s inspiring to see the students benefit from the program. He describes the mentorship event as “live coaching.” After playing each song with a student, he assesses the musician’s performance, pointing to areas for improvement and aspects that turned out successful.

“The benefit for the student is that they get input from professional musicians in a very informal fashion,” he says.

Deniz Lim-Sersan, a pianist and Grade 11 student at Earl of March Secondary School, has participated twice in the mentorship program. Each evening brought him “up to the next level,” he says. “I find I learn a lot more with professionals in that kind of relaxed setting.”

Mr. Bedner calls the project a “labour of love” for everyone involved, as no one gets paid. Even the club’s owner, Alex Demianenko, donates his stage for free and doesn’t charge the audience at the door.

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  1. Deniz / February 16, 2011 at 19:42

    Great article and mentor program!

    Just to note that I’m not a Carleton student; I am a grade 11 student at Earl Of March Secondary School.

    Deniz

  2. Leo Charbonneau / February 17, 2011 at 08:07

    Editor’s note: Deniz Lim-Sersan was incorrectly identified in the above article. The article has been corrected (see comment below).