Duncan McKee is a professional jazz musician, composer and educator from the UK. Graduating from Middlesex University, London in 1996 with an Honours Bachelors Degree in Jazz Music, he went on to teach and perform around the UK. Students included Jamie Cullum, now the highest paid jazz musician in UK history. Duncan has been lecturing and performing in Singapore for over ten years. He composes, teaches and performs with the wealth of local and international talent, he formed McKee Music which has now grown into a successful music consultancy.
As a performer, Duncan has recorded with internationally-renowned jazz musicians and worked with Maxjazz vocalist Laverne Butler in Singapore and China and with Michael Bolton in Singapore. He continues to perform in various jazz clubs and venues around Southeast Asia and Europe. A passionate educator, Duncan also lectures La Salle College of Arts, United World College of Southeast Asia in Singapore where his students learn jazz improvisation, harmony, composition and performance. He also works closely with organisations designing and executing music-based learning solutions and workshops centred on leadership, teambuilding and creative thinking.
It was Duncan’s approach to music education that led to the creation of STIX – Motivation Through Music™ – a structured leadership simulation with numerous applications, where his method of collective music making became the basis for demonstrating how corporations can effectively work together, creatively and in harmony. He has addressed audiences from many large companies such as Cisco Systems, HSBC, Commonwealth Bank, Intel, Microsoft, and many more.
Born in Scotland and raised in England, I became obsessed with jazz after listening to the great pianist and now friend of mine Jason Rebello. I had been studying classical piano for a number of years by then, but as soon as I heard his piano playing I became fixated. That was it for me.
The sound represented freedom to me. My classical studies provided a great foundation (as they always say), but jazz offered me the freedom to create, to make mistakes, to find my own voice, so to speak.
In my naivety I believed that jazz was something I would one day graduate from. Sort of like qualifying as an airline pilot. It’s not. Jazz is a continuous journey and a search for new ways of playing music. This makes it theoretically unattainable because its very survival is based on its continuous evolution. It can’t sit still so you simply have to just try and keep up or influence its behaviour.
Saying that, I have been fortunate to share the stage with some of the most fantastic musicians in the world. We’ve created moments of music which were spectacular and it’s those moments which keep you hooked on playing.
Education has always played an important part of my career (lifestyle). Growing up music channeled a lot of misguided energy into something positive. I believe that we’re all wired to learn differently and music education addresses everyones unique style, regardless of whether or not you actually want to learn to play music.
The realisation that music is a language before an art form has made huge sense to me. I have spent most of my adult life trying to understand how music connects us and how we can apply this very inborn skill to improve the way we operate as communities, classrooms, organisations and even families.
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SOME RECENT PERFORMANCE HIGHLIGHTS
Balawan & The Gamelan Masters – Ubud Village Jazz Festival, Bali
Balawan & The Gamelan Masters – The Jazz Market, Bali
Michael Bolton “Live in Singapore” – Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Tembusu Live in Concert – The Esplande Theatre, Singapore
Dale Barlow – Southbridge Jazz
Chris Batchelor – Leamington Jazz
Martin Speake – Leamington Jazz
LaVerne Butler – Beijing, China
Quaystone Live – Esplanade Theatre, Singapore
LaSalle College of the Arts, Singapore
United World College SEA, Singapore
The Jazz School Summer School, Singapore
Hardenhuish Comprehensive School, UK
Farleigh College, UK
HBO “Next On” Music 1999-2005. Tembusu