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Artist Stories

Holland Majors

Jazz Requires a Different Kind of Thinking

Meet student, Holland Majors

Holland Majors doesn’t remember not playing an instrument. When he was young, he wanted to bang on drums like his dad does. His parents told him he needed to learn piano first. He started taking piano lessons at six years old, and he never looked back.

Holland is in 8th grade, has had three semesters of JAI Youth Ensemble, and already seems like a miniature pro. JAI took the opportunity to chat with him and his parents at the Holiday concert, where his ensemble performed for a packed pre-concert reception.

What has jazz done for Holland, mom, and dad?

“It was like going from black and white to color TV. It just opened up his playing.” Holland’s younger sister plays flute, so they practice separately and then together almost daily. But she plays classical and he plays jazz.  

How are they different, Holland?

“Jazz requires a different kind of thinking.” With other styles of music, you practice a piece of music, and then at performance, you are playing that piece as well as you can. In jazz, you are improvising on the spot. So when playing with his sister, he swings it, and puts chords over it, which he admits sometimes makes his sister crazy.

As an ensemble student, Holland has actively taken advantage of the special workshops in addition to the weekly group sessions. 

What was your favorite experience this season?

“When we had a one-on-one workshop with the famous New Orleans Preservation Hall’s All-Star group, I was playing along, and their keyboardist just sat right down beside me and started playing along. It was amazing.”

Holland and his sister, both being talented, have created a family band “The Major Minors”. They have business cards and even get hired for gigs.

At so young, how much have your parents helped and how much is that coming from you?

“My mom and dad give me business ideas, and I take from there. Their ideas are traditional, like business cards. And then I add the new dimension, like a Facebook page.”

So, what’s playing on your iPhone right now?

“My current favorite is Gerry Mulligan, an American jazz saxophonist, and composer.”

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