It is much more valuable to be surrounded by people who likes you for who you are not for what you are pretending to be. I am just saying.
First of all you will never be liked by everyone. It is just impossible. And if you don’t know it by now, then grow up!
Jazz guitar and learning
I know about the fact that jazz musicians all over the world studies from the greats. Not only I know about it, but I have done this and I keep learning and listening as every other jazz musician out there. However, I tend to approach jazz greats knowledge slightly different. And I am not the only one!
It is important to learn your instrument inside out, to learn scales, arpeggios, chords, all the notes on the neck (guitar), to work on your tone, your timing, reading and all the other stuff musicians do to learn music! It is nothing new and I don’t want to go on and on about it in this particular blog. (If you are interested how to learn these things and more, I will probably post more blog posts about guitar learning, so be sure you are following this page. Also follow if you are interested in my philosophy about life! )
However, to me it was more natural to not only learn from the greats but also to create my own voice. And sometimes I focused more on improving my own style rather than learning other people phrasing. I might have been disliked by some people because of that and just by my way of thinking. But I have been strong enough to just be myself anyway until I have met more and more people who understood my way of thinking and doing things. At the end of the day I am happy to be myself and there is no one else I would rather be!
Another way of studying music is learning the solo of one of the jazz greats, but use it only as a base to create your own phrase. Use his/her knowledge, playing and language as an inspiration. I always just get more excited to compose and improvise rather than playing someone elses solos exactly the way they did it. I just find it boring and life is too short to feel bored! (I enjoy studying though and learning solos from the greats is big part of it. To me it is boring only if that is the only thing I do while practicing that day. So normally that stuff can excite me too! But I never play other musicians licks in the gig though. I like to come up with my own.)
You can spend all your life pretending. That way you will be surrounded by the fake following, followed by the people who likes you because of the wrong reasons. Why would you want to be liked by them anyway? If you can be liked for who you are. That way your following will be more true and more valuable. And more importantly, you will like them back as well! And you will not waste your energy by pretending. And, I am not talking only about jazz and musicians but about everyday life. Life is too short.
But don’t take my word for granted! Just learn more about legends of jazz… Many of them will tell you the same. Read autobiographies. Not only about jazz greats but about people who made the change in the world, read about people who have inspired you or who have the ability to do so.
Wes Montgomery and the “wrong”
I was checking jazz guitarists Wes Montgomery biography. He is possibly the most legendary jazz guitarist ever lived. However, he did most of the things “wrong”! He started playing guitar at the age of 19! And he played with only one finger on his right hand- thumb! I am remembering how my teacher in the school always was telling me how to use the pick and what are the right fingers to use while playing! But I was never the best student as I was always stubborn as hell! And I kept using finger nails instead of the pick for my right hand. (Don’t get me wrong! I tell these things to my students too! But I always add the information about Wes and others. I always mention that the choice is in their own hands, as long as they can make it work! I am talking about grown ups! Kids are normally a different story as they need to be told how to do things the best way.) Wes is only one of many examples of course. Thelonius Monk is actually the first one who comes to my mind when I think of musicians who sounds different than others. But most of the biggest names in the jazz history have their own voices! They wouldn’t become names otherwise.
Here is David Binneys Interview I liked when checked it out in the past. He talks ” the real talk”. He speaks about importance of creating your own voice. He talks about reality of being a jazz musician and many more things. So check it out!
Good points there. Especially about doing things wrong..
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Love your philosophy of learning from the greats, but also creating your own voice. Because there is only one you 🙂