Lessons & Classes
I remember Phil Mattson helping me trust my improvisation ears by telling me to: start improvising over EVERYTHING I heard- on the radio regardless of the style. So, I began scatting over classical radio, country radio, and all the pop stuff I was listening to in those days- Then, when I lived in cities like NYC I would sometime improvise over the city sounds- those brakes on buses sure make a lot of music to improvise over! I think processes like that one increased my "sense of play" and opened me up to be ready to improvise at any second. Freedom of expression!
That's so cool @michelle mailhot. I also really liked recording myself with the city. All those drone like sounds. I thought about making an album or project of it, but it's one of those ideas that didn't come to fruition. I called it Tonal Foundry.
Love that Michelle. I still improvise over the drones of the refrigerator, the microwave, etc and I drive everyone else crazy because all my improvs aren't necessarily notes ;-)
My parents, who were my first teachers, always told me to “do what you love, and the money will follow”. I’ve taken that to heart for my whole career and am thankful that I am living my dream.
One of the best things I've learned is to not be impatient or in too much of a hurry. Going slowly and thoroughly actually gets you there quicker.
Haha, building this website has been a great teacher of patience. I feel like during this Stay at Home time, I'm more able to try new things because I have the time to fail. This is a lesson I'm going to take away from this time. It makes learning more fun too. Thanks for this @pauljost
Hey @pauljost Check out the post I just put from Harry Pickens about being taught by Mary Lou Williams. It addresses this issue and goes from micro to macro
Though not always successful, I try my best to keep the 3 "P's" (Patience, Practice and Persistence) as guides.
Eckhart Tolle has wonderful things to say about being in the "now" and his ideas have helped me in lessening the noise in my head. One thing was by becoming aware of how I usually wanted to be where I'm not. Meaning that I was often thinking ahead, about the next project, or about tomorrow or somewhere in the future rather than "here". Even things like "Oh I have to do this so I can get to the bank, and then I have to...", rather than appreciating the parts and surroundings of each moment. Truth is, the future never actually arrives and I can't change the past, so there's only now. Of course there's nothing wrong with looking ahead and making plans, but if those ideas are constantly running in the background it becomes impossible to be "present". Musicians might have a better chance in accomplishing the quiet because we so often become singularly focused when we practice, but even then, without some disciplines, we can find ourselves unintentionally clogging up the works and diminish our ability to practice with a purpose.
Being in the moment (the "now") is where all the possibilities live, but we can't enjoy it fully if we don't practice well and remain patient. If we enter unprepared, the best we can do is survive the moment rather than embrace or genuinely interact with it openly and without agenda. So, same as I remind myself, go slow, stay focused on where you are and with what's right in front of you.
"Plant your feet and tell the truth"...
One of my teachers was Martin Grusin (cousin to both jazzer/arranger/composer Dave Grusin and the amazing Mel Torme) and his system boiled down to 3 things, I called it the Button System: B-breathing, T-timing, and N-non-distortion of vowels. The breath is the core of everything, the timing refers to the liasons between words by using the consonants to "launch" the next word (my eyes = my-yies), and vowels are where you can let that breath serve the song and your voice together. Martin taught so many professionals and he taught good technique that served his students on stage for years; his advice lives on in our hearts.