Three Nations 2020 | Miho Hazama & Hanna Keßeler

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Three Nations | Professional Development with Miho Hazama & Hanna Keßeler

This year’s Three Nations Under One Groove was a huge success. While we couldn’t meet our German (BuJazzO) and Dutch (NJJO) counterparts in person this time, 85 emerging jazz musicians from the three countries enjoyed a week of online meetings, a composition challenge, and talks by top industry names.

We sat down (virtually) with the first two evening sessions’ speakers, Miho Hazama and Hanna Keßeler to talk about their sessions, careers, and what has been a pretty eventful 2020.

Miho is a Grammy-nominated composer and one of the most promising and talented composers/arrangers of her generation. Having collaborated with some of the biggest contemporary Jazz names like Shiro Sagisu, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Vince Mendoza, among many others, Miho is a true jack-of-all-trades (master of all!) and has a tough time singling out the proudest moment of her career.

Three Nations 2020 | Miho Hazama & Hanna Keßeler
©️ Hiroyuki Seo

“I can’t pick one. As a band leader, anytime I play with m_unit on stage. As a composer, in 2014, when a high school wind band performed my piece perfectly. As an arranger, in 2011, when I had my arrangements recorded at Air Studios UK. As a producer/conductor, in 2019, when Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre asked me to produce a symphonic jazz concert series.”

As well as being a brilliant flautist, Hanna studied Rhythm and Movement Pedagogy in Vienna with a special focus on curative methodology. Her talk on Better Health for Musicians drew on the Franklin Method, which Hanna has, over the past 15 years, adapted for musicians, making the bridge between anatomy, body awareness, music and daily practice.

In her own words, she explains that the approach influences “how a musician can effectively use the method to improve their alignment while playing an instrument. Using imagery from music to the body and vice versa, to improve the sound, the coordination, the character of interpretation and performance skills.”

Three Nations 2020 | Miho Hazama & Hanna Keßeler
©️ Anne-Christine Keßeler

Emma, 18, who participated in the session said about Miho’s talk: “I found some of the things she said really inspiring, such as her attitude to image and individuality in the industry and not reading into why someone asks you to do a gig for example, which I have been a bit guilty of in the past!”.

Despite being involved in numerous internationally acclaimed music projects, from the New York Jazzharmonic where Miho is an Associate Artistic Director, to the Danish Radio Big Band as the chief conductor, her advice to young musicians was clear: Believe in yourself, but don’t lean on your ego too much. Produce yourself objectively.”

Our final thoughts for the day are taken from Hanna’s comments on the topic of mental health, which she was keen to explore with the group. More specifically, she focused on the implications of the global pandemic on young musicians’ creative ability, and the mindfulness it takes to remain positive during such a challenging period:

“See the little things in life which are positive. It could be a call with a friend, a walk around the neighbourhood, a good rehearsal of a music piece. Our mind is very strong in negative thoughts. Think positive. Change your focus. Instead of seeing all the negative facts, put the spotlight on the positive little moments, feelings and actions.

Just before falling asleep focus on one positive situations, feelings, actions from your day. If you want to, you can write it down, like a positive diary. After one-week you will see seven positive records. That will influence your thoughts.”


We would like to thank Miho and Hanna for taking the time to talk to us and for their brilliant and inspiring sessions. We wish them all the best with their own careers, which we’ll be sure to follow closely!

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