Life Is Like Music It Must Be Composed By Ear The Most Important Secret to Becoming a Monster Jazz Musician

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The Most Important Secret to Becoming a Monster Jazz Musician

Honestly, you’re not into music, so your best friend told you about this new thing called “practicing scale patterns” or “ear training interval training.” Because you’re into music, something stops you dead in your tracks and hears you say, “Damn, that sounds good.” It made you want to dance, scream, and jump around your room like an idiot (or am I weird?). There was something different about this music. You are connected to it. It’s lit a fire in your belly, burning no matter how hard the world tries to put it out, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this email.

Then years later – play Trane’s solo on “Giant Steps” while simultaneously trying to learn vocals, flip his head to “Ornithology,” groove in 7ths, roll at 350 BPM, and understand Lead’s color concept. learn to play the second instrument by memorizing the 1-76 scale pattern from your bossa nova, smoking, coffee-drinking teacher’s book – you know something’s not right. At worst, you haven’t seen your girlfriend/boyfriend for a month, haven’t done your laundry, haven’t paid your electric bill (hopefully you play acoustic music). If this sounds familiar, your values ​​may be compromised. In fact, you may not know what value is, and you may not even know what your value is.

Your values ​​are your priorities in life. They define what is important to you. They define what you believe, who you are, and most importantly, what you do. All great musicians (and great people) know who they are and what they want. Their actions reflect this. They practice what matters, seize the right opportunities, meet the right people, and experience success and greatness.

Consider, for example, Thelonius the Monk. Was he known for his incredible rhythm playing skills? What about piano technique? So she was famous for her beautiful voice, right? Wrong. He is not known for any of these things. He was known for his completely unique sound and style. No one played rhythmically like Monk, composed like Monk, or played “colorful” like Monk. He knew what he wanted his music to sound like, and he played it that way. Imagine if Monk thought he had to chop like Art Tatum, improvise in 5/4, or play funk. Luckily for us, he didn’t. He only played “his own thing” and he did it better than anyone else.

Whether they thought about it or not, all masters played with a strict code of integrity and values. Think Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Eric Dolphy, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Elvin Jones, and more. Even if they were all staying true to their values ​​and playing music that was important to them. strong reviews from audiences, the press and their peers. And so they became monster jazz musicians. They created and changed the jazz art form.

Here is a sports analogy for you. Have you ever heard of an athlete who was a pitcher, catcher, outfielder, first baseman, shortstop, shortstop, center fielder, goalie, shortstop, gymnast, sprinter, or square dancer? Yes, me too. We call them elementary school PE teachers, not world-class athletes. Now don’t get me wrong. Physical education teachers are a noble profession. But they do not belong to the category of world-class athletes. Or fall into the “monster” category.

Warning: Exposure to a wide range of music, playing different styles and learning different concepts is very important. But you get to a point where you have to pay more attention to the music that’s really important to you.

“But I’ve only been playing jazz for a year,” you might ask. “How do I choose my values?” Very good question. As you learn and progress, your values ​​will change. Determining your values ​​is an ongoing process. It never stops. Your values, then your goals, and then your actions will become clearer and clearer as you go. When this happens, you will grow faster and faster and become more and more productive. Choosing your values ​​now focuses on practice, listening, and all music activities. You’ll change and arrange them over and over again, increasing your speed and progressing faster each time you progress.

To quote the great spiritual teacher of the 20th century, Mr. Rogers, “You are special.” He was right. You are. Each of us has unique experiences, dreams, goals, and values. If you stay true to yourself and live by your code of values, you are destined to become a true individual and original voice in jazz. Faster than you think.

Step 1:

Write the names of your favorite players. What do you like about these players? What qualities of their performance appeal to you? What can you do to develop these qualities in your playing? Your answers will give you some big ideas about what’s important to you. Use these answers to decide what to practice, who to study with, and who to play with.

Step 2:

Plan your training before you start working out (more on that in a few days). Then, as you go through the list, ask yourself, “Is this the most important thing I can practice? Is this skill important to me? Is it going to help me make music that’s important to me? Or is it just something I’m thinking about?” ask yourself. Should I practice?” Again, use your answers to decide what to do and who to play with.

Soon your training will be more focused, more productive, and you’ll be running into the practice room with a smile on your face (and you’ll also get more gigs).

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