A big shift in how we think about our musical idols

At some point in my life it occurred to me that we often think about our musical idols in a backwards way.

Here’s the big shift:

Instead of thinking “Keith Jarrett can improvise great music for an hour straight because he’s great,” it’s really “Keith Jarrett is great because he repeatedly puts himself in the position of having to improvise an entire concert before a live audience.”

And instead of thinking “Herbie Hancock is able to take artistic risks because he’s good enough to pull it off,” it’s really “Herbie Hancock is a great artist because he takes artistic risks.”

Do you see the shift? There are lots of incredibly talented pianists who never developed their talents like Keith and Herbie have. Our musical idols are great because of what they have done with their talent, not the other way around.

If you want to become a great pianist, do what your musical idols have done. It’s what made them great and it’s what will make you great as well.

Enjoy the journey and “let the music flow!”

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2 thoughts on “A big shift in how we think about our musical idols”

  1. I had a similar thought last night. I was out at a trad concert (Irish traditional music) and I was thinking: Wow, these kids are all so talented! But then I thought about it and mentally switched that to: Wow, these kids are all so skilled! They’ve obviously put in a lot of time and work at their music.
    That made me feel that I can do it too, if I’m willing to put in the time and effort.

    • I agree, Sharon – that’s exactly it. You and I are talented too. It’s just a question of pursuing our musical interests and developing this talent. I’m glad you came to this in relation to the concert, since it helps us to enjoy the music more fully.


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