[Dixielandjazz] Question for musicians

LARRY'S Signs and Large Format Printing sign.guy at charter.net
Tue Nov 16 16:57:44 PST 2004

There is more to it.  There are several stages that musicians go through.

1. the first stage is learning the instrument.  For many this can take
years.  Or never.

2. control over the instrument.  This is not scales or technique although
they are necessary but the ability to play whatever you imagine.  There are
stages to this also such as exceptional tone production, intonation.  Many
musicians can't tear themselves away from written music.  So they will never
get to stage three no matter how good they get!

3. Imagination.  This is the realm of infinite possibilities.  I have been
on the bandstand with Kim Park of KC.  It's almost impossible for me to play
the spots when that guy is playing.  I start listening more to him than to
myself.  This man has genius that I can only admire and be thankful that I
know enough to appreciate him.  Genius without control over the instrument
isn't very good either.  Some years ago there was a guy from Africa that
appeared on the Johnny Carson show.  His tone was poor, he was out of tune,
he cracked notes and some didn't come out but the licks the guy was doing
were brilliant.  You just can't skip steps which is what most young people
want to do.

David said :Work on your musical philosophy, and your internal life so that
you will
> have something to say.

I think David's statement about philosophy is really important.

It's also important to know what will cause this grand scheme to fail.

The main cause of failure is lack of focus. Musicians like Kim are
incredibly focused.  The best musicians that I know have little or no life
other than music for the rest of us it's all compromise.  Many of us want to
have families, jobs and personal relationships that often suffer when we
become totally dedicated.  A case in point.  Louis Armstrong was totally
dedicated.  From his earliest years he was forced by poverty to focus on the
one thing he was good at and he became the best.  (Genius helped too)  While
LA may not be the best example he had no place to go but up.  Would we have
had the Louis Armstrong we know if his family had had a lot of money?

Then when you think you know it all go back to step one.  It's a never
ending circle.

There are other pitfalls too.  I was lucky.  I started to play very young
and when I met my wife (also young) she knew that I was a musician and that
I would be traveling, working when others were off, practicing and not home
a lot of nights.  I have a friend who's wife tells him if he can take a gig
and if it's suitable for his talent etc.  Needless to say he's down the call
list even though he is a talented musician and eventually he will just fall
off the edge.

I am a musician and if you can say that the art must take precedence over
family, friends and sometimes job if you have one.  My family has always
accepted that and we all do well.  I wonder if that guy was a bricklayer his
wife would do the same thing?

A funny thing.  When I was in college my wife wanted me home more.  Well I
had to practice a lot and my major instrument was the Oboe.  She was soon
encouraging me to practice at school.

David your response was really well thought out and I hope you don't mind if
I use parts of it with my students.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "David Story" <daveplaysthepiano at hotmail.com>
To: "Ken Gates" <keng at iswest.com>; <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Tuesday, November 16, 2004 11:38 AM
Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Question for musicians

> How to become a very good player.
> This is a question I get from students from time to time. I might break it
> down like this.Classical or jazz it is more or less the same.
> Formal study on your instrument with a master teacher who specializes in
> this. (Without chops you will always be a amateur. Chops and no soul you
> just a robot. No chops, no soul, you are just a fool. Paraphrase Horawitz)
> Learn and memorize the repertoire.
> Work on ear training, allot.
> Formal study in musical rudiments, history, harmony etc.
> Great players know what they are doing. In the old days, talent and
> repertoire could carry the day. Those days are over.
> Always rehearse, good musicians sound like very good musicians when the
> is well rehearsed.
> Score study
> Practice daily
> -chops
> -repertoire
> -scales, chords etc
> -sight-reading
> Work on your musical philosophy, and your internal life so that you will
> have something to say.
> Listen to music all the time, go to concerts and hear the best, hang out.
> I summarize it like this to students:
> 1. Learn your instruments to the point that you can play whatever comes
> your thoughts.
> 2. Work on your thoughts, cause good players think good thoughts, great
> players are profound.
> best regards,
> David
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Ken Gates" <keng at iswest.com>
> To: "Dixieland Jazz" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
> Sent: Monday, November 15, 2004 9:34 PM
> Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Question for musicians
> > Attn---Very good players
> >
> > I don't need to define what constitutes a very good player.
> > My question will provide sufficient definition.
> > A very good player was at one time a "good" player.
> > The question is----What special effort did you do to elevate
> > to the "very" good level?
> >
> > Ken Gates
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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