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Philosophical Rant

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by drew_bassmore, Mar 20, 2009.

  1. drew_bassmore

    drew_bassmore Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2000
    San Francisco Bay Area
    An idea occurred to me when I considered why much of what I practice does not seem to appear in performance (at first).

    The idea is this: only 10% of what one practices actually manifests in one’s performance situations.

    Now, some could say, if that is the case then, wouldn’t everybody be playing with similar limitations? Bear with me on this one…

    I would speculate that the greater number of years experience one has doesn’t necessarily change the proportion, but the amount of what one can learn and master grows exponentially. What I mean to say is that even the most advanced players could potentially feel limited on one level or another in that the more they discover what there is to master, the greater the possibilities become.

    As a beginner to jazz DB, there are many physical and technical issues to grapple with at first. As those begin to come into focus, then one’s awareness of the vernacular and melodic concept of jazz begin to emerge, and so on and so on. It is the student who is expanding their awareness of increasingly advanced concepts that continue to seemingly remain out of reach- at least initially.

    The more one logs hours, the more their 10% expands, along with the other 90% that can appear elusive.

    I would liken it to something I recall from (I think) a Downbeat article I read recently, where Hank Jones at age 90 said something to the effect that he has a lot more music and exploration to do. Even with his great years of experience, he still felt that he had not been able to connect to the music at the level he wanted to (without mistakes and with complete stream of consciousness).

    This seems to support much of what I read other folks saying on these forums, in that learning and performing music has to be a passion, otherwise it could simply be a maddening and discouraging prospect for the faint of heart.

    My own personal observation is that it is difficult to gauge one’s progress without an experienced ear and years of evaluation. That is just one more reason a good teacher or mentor is critical.

    On the upside, the path to mastery is available to everyone. It just seems that the obstacles each individual may face are unique to their aptitude and even more important, attitude!
  2. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    IMO, the biggest problem for beginners (including myself) I think can be summed up in terms of imagination. To play jazz, you have kinda have to be able to "imagine" sounds and have the facility to play what we hear. That is the biggest obstacle. We don't naturally hear where a melodic minor scale would fit into a tune. We already have our hands full struggling to get the changes right and outlining the chords. And if we do manage to hear it, we have only the skills to execute a small percentage of it. As our musical mental skills build, I don't think our physical skills can keep up with it. So yeah, 10% sounds about right.

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