Who Should Take This Class?
Anyone is welcome to sign up, but The Modern Klezmer is designed for advanced students or for serious amateur or professional musicians looking to develop their voice in klezmer music. Ideally, you already have a decent background in klezmer and know the basics of the modes and dance forms. Can you tell misheberekh from freygish and distinguish a freylekh from a zhok? Then you’re probably ready for this class.
Why Should You Take This Course?
Why do you play klezmer music? Is it to connect with your culture, to help people dance, to make a few bucks on the wedding circuit? Are you preserving something beautiful from the past or ripping it into the future? Does your music cater to the community or express your individuality?
This course is about answering those questions and understanding who you are as an artist playing klezmer music. At a practical level, it’s about using purposeful listening and purposeful practice to develop your repertoire and your personal style, and about incorporating improvisation, arranging, and composition into your practice.
By the end of this course, you’ll have a deeper understanding of improvisation, arranging, and composition in klezmer music. You’ll recognize what is standard practice and where you can explore while still sounding “klezmer”. Most importantly, you’ll express your artistic vision for yourself as a klezmer musician and set the tone for finding your voice in this art form.
Each session will combine listening and discussion with performance. Joining with your instrument will help you get the most out of the experience, but you should feel comfortable attending even if you are unable to play along during class time. All instruments, including voice and instruments that aren’t “traditionally” found in klezmer, are welcome and encouraged!
We learn best when we engage critically with the course materials and with each other. Asking questions, addressing points of confusion, or disagreeing with the instructor or your peers: these will help all of us learn together. It is incumbent upon you to let us know when you don’t understand something, whether in class or by email afterwards. That’s how we’ll know to continue discussing a particular concept or to revisit it later.
The classroom is a safe place to make mistakes and to expose all of our gaps in knowledge and understanding. Doing so will help us all grow.
Finally, while readings, listenings, and projects are not required, putting in the time outside of class to prepare will help you get more out of our discussions.
About the instructor
Nat Seelen is co-founder and clarinetist of the internationally acclaimed Ezekiel’s Wheels Klezmer Band and Artistic Director of the Boston Festival of New Jewish Music. He has performed at major venues across the United States and Europe, including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Rockport Music, Tanglewood, Het Compagnietheater, the St. Louis International Festival, and City Winery, among many others.
Nat is the winner of the Bubbe Award for Best New Klezmer Tune at the 2020 IMJ Brazil Kleztival, the 2015 Klezmer Company Orchestra Composition Competition, and with Ezekiel’s Wheels Klezmer Band won the Audience Prize and the City Winery Prize for Best Klezmer Band at the International Jewish Music Festival and the inaugural Klezmer Idol competition at the Boston Jewish Music Festival.
Outside of his private studio, Nat has led workshops and masterclasses at Tufts University, Community Music Works Providence, Milton Academy, and at K-12 schools across Massachusetts through Young Audiences of Massachusetts.
The New Klezmer is committed to full inclusion of all interested students. With the understanding that Zoom is not always the optimal modality for providing accessible experiences, we will always do our best to make this class accessible to you. All New Klezmer courses are taught in English and assume at least an intermediate (B1) level of English comprehension. Students whose primary language is not English may find the post-class written transcripts useful and should contact the instructor in advance if concerned about their level.
Built-in accommodations include:
Please inform the instructor as early as possible if you have any conditions that might require accommodations or further modification of the course procedures.
Withdrawing prior to 1 week in advance of the course start date entitles you to a full refund of course tuition, minus any processing fees. If you have to withdraw between 1 week prior the course date and the second class, you can apply the rest of your tuition toward another course. There are no refunds after the second class.
By signing up for a course, you agree that the instructor may record any or all sessions of that course, including your participation in it. We record courses so that we can send you recordings afterward each class or if you are unable to attend a given class, and may use edited recordings from classes in promotional or educational materials. If you are not comfortable appearing in a class recording, please notify the instructor prior to the first class so we can plan accordingly.