February 19, 2010

Life Lessons from Jazz

If one were to write a book about life lessons from jazz, what would it include? Certainly, the lives of jazz musicians are full of both blues and abstract truths. And there are plenty of examples of what could go wrong as well. But what kind of guide to life can be discerned from jazz? Here are some initial thoughts.
  • Practice - Jazz history is full of spectacular debuts by an unknown, the sudden appearance on the stage of a new talent. What remains hidden in most cases is the the years of obscurity spent learning to get to that stage of expertise. Sonny Rollins practicing alone on the Williamsburg Bridge comes to mind.
  • Find your sound - Each person has a particular talent that they need to find and develop.
  • Learn to play well with others - In most cases, you'll go only so far as your band takes you.
  • Keep improvising - Don't get bogged down in repetition. Keep challenging yourself.
  • Don't go off the deep end - Discipline and focus are critical as well, needed to avoid the pitfalls and distractions that inevitably come up in life.
     That's what I've come up with. Anybody have additional ideas to add to the list?

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