Slow & Steady is the key to building a musical body of work

When it comes to building a body of musical work, Slow & Steady wins the race. When taking on a big project, we often become overwhelmed and give up, because the feeling of having to do it all at once is too painful to bear. But we don’t have to do it all at once. And, in fact, we can’t.

We can’t learn every classic rock song at once.

We can’t memorize every jazz standard in a day.

We can’t master every scale, chord voicing, and LH accompaniment pattern in a day either.

(And no, we can’t learn every Chopin Etude in one sitting either!)

Once we accept this, it becomes good news, because it means the the only way we’re going to climb the mountain is one step at a time. By placing one foot in front of the other, again and again and again and again. In other words, it’s “do-able.” Eminently “do-able!”

I’m finding this out for myself firsthand, by making a video for every single tune in The Real Book, in order. Now, there’s 400 jazz standards in the book, ad yes, it can seem overwhelming to think of them all at once. Fortunately for me, the very process of making each video slows me down, and I set the goal of only making one per week.

Sure, it will take me 8 years to finish the whole book, but that’s just the point, isn’t it? I’m not in a hurry, and I’ll get to live this project on a weekly basis for all that time, becoming newly inspired and energized each time I turn the page and greet a new tune.

And do you know what? What began as tune #1, and then tune #2, etc., has all of a sudden become tune #52! Yes, today I made a video for the tune “Call Me,” which is the 52nd tune in the book.

Call Me: Journey Through The Real Book #52 (featuring modal chord voicings)

The moral of the story is this: If I can do it, you can do it too. Open the Real Book and simply begin with the first tune you like. Start learning a Chopin Etude, with no regard for the others. Start practicing those scales, one per week until you’ve mastered all 12 major scales. And then go on to the minor scales, (literally) one step at a time.

The key to building a body of musical work is to go one step at a time, consistently. Then, before you realize it, you’ll look back and be amazed at how much you’ve accomplished!

Good luck!

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