Exploring Being Wrong To Find Improvement

The errors of the great mind exceed in number those of the less vigorous one – William Stanley Jevons, Economist If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough. – John Coltrane, Jazz Saxophonist There is no musician in this world who has flawless technique, because there is no such thing as flawless technique. For […]

Transcending Your Skills To Improvise More Expressively

Learning to improvise music means learning to respond immediately to the stimuli of the moment (time feel, harmony, song form, other players, etc.) in such a way as to produce cogent, sincerely expressed music. There’s lots of reflexive activity going on here. Stuff seemingly below consciousness. If you ask many highly gifted and accomplished improvising […]

Learning To Trust Unlearning

Seven months ago my daughter Julia was born. One of the deepest joys in my life is watching her grow and develop. Of course that’s no surprise for anybody who has reared children. But what has surprised me is how much I’ve learned about movement and balance from observing her as she develops. And today […]

To Really Hear Your Sound, You First Have To Accept It

The other day when I arrived at the studio where I practice saxophone, I was told that I had to use a different room than the one I usually practice in. No big deal. The room I typically use is somewhat dead acoustically. I like practicing in it because it gives me brutally honest feedback […]

Listening Better By Consciously Ignoring

Recently I taught an introductory workshop in improvisation to a group of young (mostly high school and college age) musicians. All of the members of my class were primarily interpretive musicians (classically trained) and were already reasonably proficient players. All were quite excited and interested (if not a little nervous) about delving into the act […]