I know many musicians struggle with a common problem—they have a vision of where they want to go, motivation to practice today, but don’t know how to bridge the chasm.
I had the privilege of recording with drummer extraordinaire Phil Parisot this Spring. The quartet record Lingo is out today on OA2 Records. Listen to clips and order at Amazon or OA2 records. CD release show on December 26th at Tula’s in Seattle.
About the record:
For Seattle-based drummer/composer Phil Parisot, playing music is about coming home. With “Lingo,” he introduces a new quartet comprised of musicians he’s known for 20 years. The result is a dark and atmospheric sound that draws upon an array of influences, including Afro-Cuban, fusion, and symphonic, all molded seamlessly into a cohesive modern jazz package. In addition to presenting a number of original compositions, “Lingo” is enhanced by references to Hugh Masekela, Aaron Copland, Duke Ellington, and more. Joining Parisot is Steve Treseler on tenor and soprano saxophone, Dan Kramlich on piano and Fender Rhodes, and Michael Glynn on acoustic bass.
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
– Martin Luther King Jr.
There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.
– Leonard Cohen, 1934 – 2016
To follow up on my article, Forget 10,000 Hours of Delayed Gratification—Practice Flow, I want to share insight into the high-flow practices of two my favorite musicians.
Brenda Banks, my graduate school advisor at the University of Washington, interviewed me as part of a series featuring alumni with “alternative” careers. We discuss the origin of my blog, my experience in the UW jazz program, marketing, and my future plans. I also list my favorite resources for freelance musicians and teachers.
I just released a promo video and new website for the Game Symphony Workshop. Watch classically-trained musicians collaboratively create and perform original music.
The footage comes from an adult workshop at Seattle Pacific University and a workshop with a high school jazz band. Watch the high school students play entertaining creative games to break the ice and build community. Thanks to Karl Benitez for filming the workshops and producing the video.
In related news, I’m performing with the Seattle Soundpainting Ensemble on Thursday 11/10 at the Chapel in Wallingford at 8PM.
Reserve a free digital copy of my forthcoming book Creativity Triggers for Musicians. The practices and strategies will help you unlock and unblock your innate creativity.
This election is officially off the rails, so let me distract you with a couple videos.
You may remember the “jazz robot” videos from a few years ago. I just stumbled across the video I made in 2010. The material is mostly from real questions and comments from audience members—“That guy with the big cello was really getting into it.”
Yesterday, film composer Danny Elfman released a horror soundtrack to clips from the last debate, called Trump Stalks Hillary. Pretty terrifying.
Hang in there—only 24 more days.
Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.
– Sister Corita Kent and John Cage, “Ten Rules for Teachers and Students”
This is challenging practice because as artists, we are constantly assessing and judging our work.
Theater games help actors create new material and build trust. We can experience the same benefits from creative musical games.
Improvisation is the source of paralyzing fear and for many musicians, and community-building games help ease fears about the creative process. The novelty, unpredictability, and attainable challenges help drive our attention into the present moment.
Group activities engage everyone in the ensemble. The jazz education model of teaching improvisation puts musicians on the spot one at a time—musicians who aren’t playing tend to check out mentally, and many inexperienced soloists get freaked out when put on the spot.
Introduce Creative Practices
Games allow us to experience profound creative practices: experimentation, creative risks, and playing within self-imposed limitations. Although some of the icebreaker games are silly, the practices help us improvise and compose in other areas.
Creative games and activities are the foundation of the Game Symphony Workshop.
When refer to various activities of life as “games,” we do not mean to imply that these activities are frivolous or make no difference. . .Half the fun of playing games like baseball—or the kind that come in a box—is that they challenge us to adapt and hone our skills. . .Naming your activities as a game breaks their hold on you and puts you in charge. Just look carefully at the cover of the box, and if the rules do not light up your life, put it away, take out another one you like better, and play the new game wholeheartedly. Remember, it’s all invented.
Roz Zander, The Art of Possibility
Here are ten of my favorite games for musicians who may be new to improvisation: