Meet an external examiner

Ida Nielsen - aka BassIda - played for six years as a bassist with Prince, until his untimely death in 2016. She has a great international career and can look forward to an extensive spring tour in February 2023 that will take her around whole Europe with "Ida Nielsen & The Funkbots".

In January/February 2023, for the 3rd year in a row, Ida Nielsen was the overall external examiner for the concert part of the jazz/pop entry exams at the Academy in Aarhus and Holstebro. She is a good example of how applicants are judged not only by internal teachers but are also by external professional musicians at the highest level.

We asked Ida to tell us how she has experienced the applicants over the past three years:

“The level is very high, compared to my own time at the conservatory in the late 90s. Both technically and musically. The applicants have something on their minds, you can clearly feel that the artistic approach matters at this Academy – and the applicants deliver!

They come up with many different takes on music, there is a great stylistic breadth, and they mix the genres. That is really good. In the past, mostly non-original pieces were played for the entry exams and then maybe a single original piece. Today it’s the other way around, there’s a lot of great compositional stuff in between, and you can really hear the personality in it. They work alternatively with the possibilities available today; they can put funk and folk music together with a computer – that’s great to hear.

At the same time, you can also experience a certain trend from year to year. Sometimes you can hear whom the singers have listened to in particular in the past year, and also there was a year when a great bulk of the applicants played in odd meters. But since so much emphasis is placed on the artistic approach, all sorts of different things come along anyway.

It is a great inspiration for me, in my own artistic work, to experience the commitment of young people, both that they are so well prepared, and that they embrace music so broadly. I am often very moved by hearing them play, and it makes me want to create some music myself that affects people in that way. For example, the year when they played a lot of odd meters, I went home and wrote a lot of songs in odd meters myself. Not something I can use in my concerts, but it was a great inspiration.”

(Interview February 2023)