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I am a Los Angeles-based twentysomething. I have a profession, and I have a secret life in music, and this blog isn't about any of that. I like Blogger because I can't read what you're thinking.

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Wednesday, April 7   >>

YOU CAN LEARN A LOT FROM CECIL TAYLOR

You can learn a lot from Cecil Taylor, free jazz pioneer.



Get all the training you can get, whether traditional or unconventional. Then make your mark. And, when you're planning to make your mark, do it authentically.

More importantly, take bold, child-like risks. Re: "Childish Creativity"

----

I had a breakthrough moment in my private piano teaching the other day. This is an Oprah moment, so if you'd like to skip ahead, suck a nut and close this tab.

One of my students, Mel, wanted to learn a Taylor Swift song.

So I put all the surrounding sheet music aside and said, "Play it."

And she just looked at me like I was fucking high or something.

"Play it. You know the song. Figure it out."

And she continued staring at me. Then back at the piano. Then back at me. She was, like, terrified.

"Nothing bad is going to happen. Just play the piano. Anything. There's no sheet music. Just play."

Nothing.

"Okay. Do you draw?" I asked.

"Yeah."

"When someone gives you a bunch of white paper and a bunch of crayons, what do you do with them?"

"Draw stuff."

"Do you draw whatever you want?"

"Yes."

"Then imagine this piano's like a bunch of white paper and all these notes are crayons. Just play."

And she sort of did. Took a nudge, but, she kinda got there, though now just mildly terrified.

Breakthrough? Kids aren't encouraged enough to think outside of the pencil box. This is pretty tragic shit, folks.

----

A lot of musicians would probably agree that we're never always "on." But when you do get "on" it's like your body takes over your brain. You play crazy shit, wondering where the hell it came from, only to get a high off of it in a weird out-of-body experience for a brief second, and you strive every time you're on your instrument to get to that moment back again, knowing that a series of these moments is enough to make you go fucking ballistic about your craft, but in a good way.

Cecil Taylor must feel like this all the time.