Testimonials from students
Howard - Jazz guitar and piano:
I have been taking jazz improvisation lessons from Garrett for over ten years, first with the guitar as my instrument, then switching to the piano. I had played the guitar for 30 years before I met Garrett, had been entirely self-taught, and came to realize I was not the best of instructors. What I gained over the years from Garrett was improved guitar technique, a vast improvement in my understanding of music theory, especially jazz theory, and an understanding of ensemble playing. The shift to the piano, likewise, has been a very useful combination of technique and applied music and jazz theory.
But this tells only part of the tale. Garrett is an exceptional instructor for the adult learner. He is patient, encouraging, and very attentive to what his students are hoping to achieve. He does not have a single “cookie cutter” program that all students go through, but rather works with his students to design a program that will help them meet their own ambitions. Working with Garrett has not only helped me play my instruments better; my enjoyment of playing music has grown enormously. It would not be an overstatement to say that the years of music lessons with Garrett Leaver have made me a happier person.
Peter - Jazz Trumpet
Garrett is an extremely positive and supportive teacher, focused on helping students develop the skill of jazz improvisation, on students' instrument of choice, mine being the trumpet.
I came to Garrett as a jazz listener and an experienced trumpet player, but without any ability to improvise. I was 'tied' to reading sheet music, and not entirely sure that I would ever be able to truly improvise.
Garrett's sequence of jazz improvisation lessons led me away from strictly reading music, first to improvising 'around' the melody, then improvising 'on' the melody, and gradually to improvising more independently of the melody based on the underlying chord structures. Coupled with Garrett's encouraging and fun nature, these lessons provide a safe environment in which I could explore improvisation, learning this hands-on skill through trial-and-error and guided by Garrett's supportive feedback.
As an accomplished jazz pianist, Garrett provided me with supportive, interactive and fun accompaniment. Garrett's approach reaches beyond learning with 'Band-In-A-Box' and Play-Along CDs, by creating the truly interactive experience central to the jazz experience. This interactivity was further enhanced through the opportunity to overlap lessons and play with Garrett's other students. Garrett's focus on skill development -- learning how to improvise and play jazz -- is also supported by his knowledge of jazz theory. My own bent is very theoretical, and so theory was a particularly useful pedagogical tool in our lessons. Yet I also learned from Garrett the importance of eventually letting go of particular tools, and just playing.
Garrett's combination of instruction, interactivity, and above all his enthusiastic support allowed me to let go of my initial fears and resistance, to learn to improvise, and then to have a lot of fun playing jazz!
Anne - classical & jazz piano and voice
I have enjoyed taking lessons from Garrett for over 10 years. He is flexible in his approach to teaching and willing to adapt to each student's particular wants and needs. Learning the underlying whys and wherefores of the music has greatly contributed not only to my playing, but also to my listening enjoyment.
Alan - tenor sax
Having a lesson with Garrett is a wonderful experience! The great thing about Garrett`s teaching method is that the improvising starts on day one. There is no delay or lead-in period before you start to experience the joys of creating your own jazz sounds ... which for me is on the saxophone !
Garrett is a consummate jazz professional, in every lesson he creates an environment in which the student is given the necessary musical tools, encouragement and freedom to be able to spontaneously express their musical identity in their own terms, in real time. Without Garrett's comprehensive understanding of the theory and practice of Jazz and improvised music, approachable demeanour and many years of preforming experience to assist you, navigating your way through the complexities of becoming a Jazz player could be very a long process! I highly recommend him.
Ian - Jazz Piano
As someone who has played piano since childhood, I came to Garrett 10 years ago to learn jazz improvisation. It was a style of music that I found beautiful and inspiring, but somewhat mystifying. My goal was to learn to “compose” in the moment and free myself from the constraints of “playing by numbers”. In spite of a very undisciplined practice schedule, Garrett has helped me to come a long way towards that objective. He is passionate about sharing his deep understanding of the theory and practice of jazz improvisation. Most importantly, he is adept at adjusting his teaching to the different learning styles and abilities of his students, and is able to help both beginners and experienced musicians to deepen their appreciation and playing ability. My lessons with Garrett are a highlight of my week. There are not only fun, but also a great source of stress relief and self-expression.
Charlotte - jazz piano
I have been playing piano all of my life. I have a Bachelor of Music degree, and have taught piano for many years. For 3 years, I have had the honour and privilege of studying with Garrett. He introduced me to jazz piano in a way that made it accessible to me, and fun.
Garrett not only teaches, he creates a space for spontaneous creation and improvisation and before you know it, you’ve improvised on a tune… and you’re amazed at yourself!
He teaches within the relationship with the person…so you always feel respected and taken into account… Garrett does not judge, he comments on what you do, always in a respectful manner, but always taking you beyond where you thought you could go.
Garrett teaches starting from each person’s level of ability and knowledge. This is an incredible talent.I’m very fortunate to have found this incredible teacher and jazz mentor.