Mike Stern has played with Miles Davis, been nominated for Grammies and appears in numerous lists of “Best Jazz Guitarists of All Time”, but this week he work shopped with Box Hill Institute’s music students to hone their performance skills and talk about how to make a lifelong career from the music industry.

The two-hour workshop was attended by approximately 100 students who were treated to performances by the band, interspersed with performance and career advice. For Stern whose career started in the early 1970s playing with the band Blood, Sweat and Tears, keeping music alive in the students’ lives was an important topic.

The Mike Stern Band, which also includes drummer David Weckl, saxophonist Bob Franceschini and bass guitarist Tom Kennedy, were in Melbourne for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. Box Hill Institute was the only institution to host a workshop.

“My musical beginnings were blues and rock. I grew up in the 60s and learnt by playing along with the records. Then my mum used to play jazz records and I tried to play along but just got lost straight away. So I got some lessons, then eventually went to Berkley College of Music. Music is a journey, you’ve got to just keep moving, just keep trying to learn as much as you can and play your heart out,” said Mike.

Music student Luke Haaja, who specialises in drums, said it was a great opportunity to listen to and learn from someone who’d made a sustained career out of music.

“It is great that we are getting opportunities like that through the school. It was good that they talked about how you can’t rely on just one instrument but that you need to learn everything you can about all areas of music. For me the stand out feature of the masterclass was Mike’s engagement with the audience. He’s played to crowds of thousands and to come here and display that same enthusiasm and engagement to the audience was, I thought, fantastic.