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What Should You Think About While Improvising?

POSTED ON July 20, 2017   |   One Comment
Playing what your hear? The chord changes? The melody? Listening to the band? Remembering licks you practiced? Nothing at all?

Finding the Zone

Some of the greatest improvisers describe a peak speak of non-thinking, known as being “in the zone” or a flow state. In a 2014 NPR interview, Sonny Rollins says, “When I play, what I try to do is to reach my subconscious level. I don’t want to overtly think about anything, because you can’t think and play at the same time — believe me, I’ve tried it. It goes by too fast.”

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Dissolve the Fear of Improvisation (Video)

POSTED ON March 27, 2017   |   Post A Comment

Fear and anxiety are the biggest roadblocks to creative music making. The good news is the right strategies can ease the most profound phobias.

“Portrait of Dizzy Gillespie” by William Gottlieb. Courtesy of The Library of Congress

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New Podcast Interview

POSTED ON March 03, 2017   |   Post A Comment
I had the pleasure of sitting down with my friend Karl Benitez and his co-host Trevor Pogue for an interview on their new podcast, Anxiety Club. These guys are really entertaining, and we discussed a host of topics:

  • The creative process
  • Why most classical musicians don’t improvise (although they used to)
  • My summer job painting fire hydrants
  • Who to take criticism from (spoiler alert: not many people)
  • Fear and leaning into discomfort
  • Earning a living as an artist
  • When to take a non-paying gig
  • Why I embrace a generous business model

(Warning, there are a few swears. And I was a bit over-caffeinated, so I was talking much faster than usual.)

Listen on SoundCloud or iTunes.

They even turned me into a couple infographics (achievement unlocked):
The sentence about quantity and quality is almost a direct quote from Adam Grant’s book Originals, so I can’t take credit.

Enjoy!

Listen on SoundCloud or iTunes.

– ST

Download a free copy of my new book, Creativity Triggers for Musicians. Join the Facebook group.

Creativity Triggers Facebook Group

POSTED ON February 19, 2017   |   Post A Comment

I created a Creativity Triggers for Musicians Facebook group to connect readers and creative musicians all over the world.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/creativitytriggers/

Of course, our most important connections are playing music together in real life. The value of a digital community is that we can:

– Connect with musicians across the globe
– Share music
– Ask and answer questions
– Find collaborators
– Share insight and resources

To create and perform great music, we need to connect with other people. Our creative practices are often stuffed into a practice room, isolating us from our peers. If we can break out of that sense of isolation, we can create more and connect with wider audiences.

– Kaley Lane Eaton, composer, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist

Download a free digital copy of my new book Creativity Triggers for Musicians. See you in the Facebook group.

– ST

 

Creativity Triggers for Musicians is Here!

POSTED ON February 03, 2017   |   Post A Comment

Download a free digital copy of my new book Creativity Triggers for Musicians.

The Big Idea

Creativity isn’t a mysterious or magical gift. It’s a practice.

The Promise

Creativity Triggers for Musicians will help you express your unused creativity, break through barriers, and create an abundance of original music.

The Content

– Eight creative practices that underpin idea generation in any creative discipline.

– Creativity Triggers: frameworks for improvisation that draw from creative practices. These are similar to improv theater games and creative writing prompts.

  1. Eight Creative Practices
  2. Creative Limitations
  3. Inner Hearing
  4. Drones
  5. Variations on a Theme
  6. Text Setting

Download the book + free bonuses.

Enjoy!
– ST

Reflection Questions for Improvisers

POSTED ON January 15, 2017   |   Post A Comment

Reflecting on our performances makes us stronger musicians and collaborators. You can ask and answer the following questions:

  • Immediately after playing
  • After listening to a recording
  • Letting weeks or months pass before listening to the recording

Listen and reflect with a detached and compassionate curiosity.


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Does Too Much Shedding Dampen Creativity?

POSTED ON December 03, 2016   |   Post A Comment

Q&A article this week. If you have any questions, write me at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

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Jerry Bergonzi’s Secret

POSTED ON November 04, 2016   |   Post A Comment

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.

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Jazz Robot Meets Fan

POSTED ON October 14, 2016   |   Post A Comment

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 thereonly 24 more days.

– ST

Why Only Is Better Than Best

POSTED ON August 08, 2016   |   2 Comments

Stop trying to beat everyone else. True success is creating work that no one else can replicate. Don’t aim to be the bestaim to be the only.

When you’re truly unmistakable, the competition becomes completely irrelevant. You’re not the best option, you’re the only option

– Srini Rao, Unmistakable: Why Only Is Better Than Best

Keith Jarrett doesn’t have any competition. If you want to hear Keith’s play live, there is no substitute for the man himself. Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Bill Frisell, Roy Hargrove, and Pat Metheny are have carved out their own categories. They are unmistakable.

Are these musicians objectively the “best” at what they do? It’s an irrelevant question. These renowned artists have stepped out of the world of measurement into a universe of possibility.

monk

Portrait of Thelonious Monk, Minton’s Playhouse 1947, Photo by William Gottlieb, courtesy of Library of Congress

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