World-class jazz violinist leads LPS orchestra students

Scott Tixier’s talent for teaching proved to be music to the ears of dozens of Lincoln Public Schools orchestra students this spring.
The world-class jazz violinist spent time with students from seven LPS high schools at an improvisation clinic. Tixier, a five-time Grammy Award winner, shared his knowledge about rhythms, keys and scores during a session held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
East High School student Joslyn said she was impressed with Tixier. She was grateful to work with someone who has made a major impact on the music scene.
“Getting to share the room with someone as talented as Scott was just incredible,” Joslyn said. “I learned so much about the variations of range you can play on an instrument and how it doesn’t always have to be ‘classical,’ but can be so unique to your style. A special thing I took away from him was that you can do anything with your talent to make it special and unique to you.”
Tixier said he was excited to help the newest generation of orchestra All-Stars in Lincoln. The French-born violinist has played with many of the biggest names in music. He has toured with popular artists Adele, Pink, Ariana Grande, Stevie Wonder and Jon Legend, rock bands Pink Floyd and Coldplay and famous jazz musicians Chris Potter and Kenny Barron. His notes have also appeared in major film scores such as “The Lion King” and the “John Wick” series.
“I love it,” Tixier said. “I love sharing my passion for music with people, and especially the young generation, the youth, because that’s the future. As a young adult I didn’t have an opportunity like this, so to bring something to their lives so they can find new paths, new ways to express themselves, is really nice.”
LPS Music Supervisor Amy Holloman and Hans Sturm, professor of double bass and jazz studies at UNL’s Glenn Korff School of Music, said Tixier’s visit was a special opportunity for students. In addition to the ensemble-based workshop, Tixier also taught UNL students and traveled to Lincoln High, Southwest, Southeast and East for workshops. A professional rhythm section of piano, bass and percussion musicians joined him at each clinic.
“Working with a major artist is an inspiration for students!” Holloman said. “Getting feedback from professional musicians and performers provides students with varying perspectives to guide thinking for analysis and encourage growth.”
“The typical path for a trained violinist, or any bowed string instrumentalist for that matter, is to teach or to strive to perform and interpret the works of composers at the highest level, to read and interpret sheet music,” Sturm said. “However, as an improvising string player, Scott chooses his own notes and rhythms. He gets to compose his own part.
“Improvising is something that string students rarely have the opportunity to do, and they now have the opportunity to witness and experience this process firsthand.”
Tixier’s appearance was part of the new Creative Improvising String Project (CISP). The National Association for Music Educators recently released a document that says all music students should be involved in creative activities like improvisation and composition. Members of the Lincoln-based Meadowlark Music Festival spoke with Holloman in 2023 about coming up with ways to meet this goal.
Meadowlark leaders then met with Holloman and LPS orchestra directors to gauge their interest in offering CISP activities. They reacted to the idea with excitement and wanted to begin as soon as possible.
Sturm taught more than 30 lessons to orchestra students at each participating high school prior to Tixier’s visit. Multiple school and community groups also lent their support to the inaugural CISP program. Meadowlark funded the professional rhythm section and the Glenn Korff School of Music helped pay for Tixier’s appearance. Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools provided funds for bus transportation for LPS students to and from UNL for the ensemble workshop.
Holloman and local orchestra directors attended the clinic to watch Tixier work with LPS students. She was pleased with what she saw during the two-hour event.
“Over the course of the clinic students gained confidence in exploring their instruments and were improvising without guidelines, volunteering to perform as individuals,” Holloman said. “Interested students had the opportunity to play with Mr. Tixier and his rhythm section in small groups, performing for their peers. It was truly a collaborative and immersive experience.”
Tixier first showed students how to improvise on chords such as D minor. He then invited volunteers to play with the band at the front of the room. He encouraged everyone as he listened to them create a smooth-flowing river of sound.
“I like this,” Tixier said. “It’s beautiful.”
Tixier said he was happy knowing that new generations of musicians would continue to play symphonies of success with their stringed instruments.
“It’s nice to have everybody gather together from all of the schools,” Tixier said. “I’m really excited to see people from 14-17 years old who are really interested in jazz violin improvisation. That’s beautiful for the future.”
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Published: May 1, 2024, Updated: May 1, 2024

LPS orchestra students play chords during a special clinic with world-class jazz violinist Scott Tixier. Students met with Tixier at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. A five-time Grammy Award winner, Tixier has played with many of the top names in the music industry.