I recently read a question that asked if formal musical training helped or hindered those who wanted to play Jazz, and there were an array of responses, but the one that caught my eye was that Jazz was learned by osmosis and not Theory… Is that True? This is something that has always bothered me. When I was younger I wanted to put my horn to my lips and have all the great notes just fall into place, but that seldom happened. Yeah, I sounded decent but I was limited in my growth and eventually quit playing for over a decade. Since returning, I have “studied” long and hard. Examined what the greats have done before and are currently doing around me. For me, osmosis did not yield the results I yearned for, but hard work has and is producing what will one day be a great musician in me. That’s my story, in brief, what about you?
As I read on, I caught another similar statement, “you can’t teach swing, you gotta feel it.” I had the great honor, in my youth, to study with an amazing teacher, Mr. Justin Diciocio (internationally recognized as one of the foremost jazz educators of our time). He was able to get a group of talented but not necessarily acclimated to Jazz, and make them swing like the Count Basie band. Yes, he taught us how to swing. Now, in truth, swing came pretty natural for me as an individual and I wasn’t taught the feel, but as a band, we would have been lost without his instruction. Have you ever seen anyone learn how to swing through instruction? Was it faulty instruction or that it just can’t be taught? What do you think?
Last Thought! I read that Thomas Edison said “Genius is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration” If this is true, then the above makes sense. You may feel it and you may grow by osmosis but that’s only 10%. If you don’t study and aren’t taught well and do not practice hard (the 90%), then you are unlikely to achieve the heights you dream of. #justmy2cents