Coming to a new way of thinking about our music

I once attended a workshop for teachers, and the instructor said something I had never thought about before:

“If you want to get to a new level, you have to come to a new way of thinking.”

Over the years, it’s gradually dawned on me that this is exactly what the greatest musicians do. They’ve come to a new way of thinking.

Here are a few examples:

Herbie Hancock: “Hmmm…. What if I leave the 3rd and 7th out of chord voicings?”

Beethoven: “Hmmm… What if I have a choir sing during my symphony?”

Mary Lou Williams: “Hmmm…. What if I embrace each new style of jazz as I go through my career?”

Keith Richards: “Hmmm…. What if I think rhythmically more like a pianist rather than a guitarist when I strum chords?”

Stravinsky: “Hmmm… What if I leave my famous style of composing behind and start writing miniature 12-tone pieces?”

Joni Mitchell: “Hmmm… What if I invented a new guitar tuning?”

J. S. Bach: “Hmmm… What if went to visit my son and tried out the new thing called a ‘piano?’”

Duke Ellington: “Hmmm.. What if I reverse some of the chords in a 12-blues progression?”

Scott Joplin: “Hmmm… What if I combine banjo and marching band music?”

Sting: “Hmmm… What if I put together a whole band of jazz musicians?”

Charles Mingus: “Hmmm… What if a musician started their own record label?”

Amanda Palmer: “Hmmm…What if I funded my career with donations from my fans, instead of charging for tickets?”

Let’s all ask ourselves how we currently think about music, our playing, and how we’re going to improve as musicians. And then… let’s come to a new way of thinking.

Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”

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