We hear the words “enjoy the process” so often these days that we sometimes begin to tune them out. Or we say “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know… enjoy the process” while we secretly think, “ I really just want to accomplish this and get it over with!”
But the truth is that life isn’t like that, and this is a good thing!
Take a good meal, for example. Would you REALLY want to experience the satisfaction of having finished a gourmet dinner without first having the pleasure of actually eating the food? No, of course not. (Semi-pun almost not intended!) Yes, we want to taste the food, not merely wake up having already eaten it.
And while we do want to be strong and in good shape, any athlete will tell us that it feels GOOD to move around a bit and exercise. Especially when we do it with our friends.
I’ve noticed a pattern that happens with me and the piano. As soon as I learn a new piece, I immediately want to learn another! Over time I’ve come to realize that I enjoy the “process” of learning a new piece even more than the satisfaction of having learned it. Or, if I’m playing a piece I’ve previously learned, I’m enjoying the process of playing it here, now, and in whatever situation I’m in.
I don’t even mind making musical mistakes, because I’m always in the midst of the process of striving to play the best I can. And if I make a mistake, this simply gives me the chance to get it right the next time.
This concept of enjoying the process recently came up with my Jazz Pianist’s Ultimate Guide To The Real Book. As you may or may not already know, I spent about two years writing this free online resource to give jazz pianists an overview, historical context, and some practice tips for each of the Real Book’s 400 tunes. Well, soon after I finally finished it I realized that some of the links to YouTube videos and related articles had become broken as YouTube channels became deleted or webpages disappeared.
At first I said to myself “Oh no! I did all that hard work and now I have to do some of it all over again!” But then I realized “This is a GREAT opportunity to briefly revisit all 400 songs and become inspired for a few days.” So I sat down and opened the first page, for Duke Ellington’s “African Flower.” I fixed a few broken links and was so energized that I sat down and played it on piano. I didn’t have the time to play all 400 tunes, but I did have a lot of fun listening to some great recordings along the way and reading some articles that I had forgotten about. Most of all, I came out of the experience a better musician.
Yes, enjoy the process. After all… we have no choice!
Here’s the Table of Contents. Just click on the name of a tune you’re interested in learning more about.
Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”
PS - If you've always wanted to play Wayne Shorter's great jazz tunes but found them to be a little too challenging or unusual, here's some inspiration on his classic tune Deluge. Enjoy!
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