I've just got my first AB jazz student. Studying for grade 5 alto sax and dumped by former teacher.
I've put students through the Guildhall exams but this is my first taste of the AB ones. Though my question could apply to any jazz exam.
When you teach the prepared pieces do you encourage students to learn a solo or do you expect them to make it up on the spot? Or perhaps a bit of both.
The former had never really occurred to me - it is an improvisation exam after all, not a memory one - until this student turned up with some hand-written solos that she intended to learn.
It struck me that the examiner has no way of knowing whether it's one or the other.
So what do the rest of you do?
There's no WAY you should encourage her to play a prepared solo!!! This would defeat the whole object, because improvisation is meant to be played on the hoof, otherwise it isn't improvisation - it's something else.
Believe me, the jazz examiners aren't stupid, and can tell if the candidate is playing something they've prepared before - it's one of the things they look out for. They're all jazzers themselves so know exactly what to look for!
She can use licks she likes and has used before, because every jazzer uses licks (little motivs), but a whole solo - no!!!
Surely if the candidate knows what key she's in, is well versed in the scales appropriate for the piece, and has been well prepared, she shouldn't have too much trouble improvising in the exam. If she doesn't feel ready to improvise in front of an examiner then perhaps she's not really ready for the exam and needs more time to practise improvising in front of people she doesn't know.
So in a nutshell, tell her no, she must NOT prepare a solo!