Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Music in All of Us... (Part 1)

Peers and fellow bloggers of mine have often discussed the common threads that bind us together--beyond our interests in technology.

Today I want to tell a story about music, more specifically the ability to play an instrument. I have a theory that many of us SuperGeeks have played a musical instrument or two. For me, its drums. Specifically a 1989 Ludwig Rocker 5 piece in classic black with Zildjian cymbals. My set is not new, has scratches from its travels, and no electronics...but it has hours of memories. Jazz, fusion, rock...lots and lots of improv. Music was, and is, a great form of personal expression. Just as people are not born with the ability to write code and understand design patterns, so to are musicians required to learn and practice. Although my drum set is "how" I expressed myself, the real channel of this energy came from my teacher Mr. Noga. He took a wanna-be...taught him to read music, gave him some chops, and introduced him to the real meaning of jazz. As much as I am so appreciative of that gift, he knew he could not do it alone. In order to set the glue of my instruction I required two more steps:
(1) Play. Work with peer with skill. One of my fellow percussionists was on his way to college soon on a drum scholarship. He was good, real good. He practiced religiously and clearly had talent. I on the other hand, needed honing. This was how it was done. Mr. Noga gave me passes to the music room twice a day for 3 months. The first hour was for me to practice. The second was a jam session with my new mentor and two drum sets. He was intimidating. I crumbled the first few times I attempted to keep up with him. And then, after being significantly frustrated with his showmanship and lack of impress, I closed my eyes and exploded on the drums. I never thought I had it in me, but I finally opened up and became part of the music...and the confidence that comes with it. My peer somehow now vouged for me...I COULD play. Do not get me wrong, I was no Buddy Rich or Neil Pert...but I could keep up with my peers that had been playing for many years longer.
(2) Performance. I needed to take what I learned and apply it publicly for others to judge...and only then earn new confidence.

It is only recently that I learned the third step in music. The power of passing it on. My soon to be 5 year old son and 2 1/2 year old daughter love to play on my drums and see me play them. A great feeling comes from jamming and seeing children dance.

So what's the moral or points of the this personal story?
(1) There is amazing commonality in learning to play music and learning to play technology.
(2) Its not enough to learn your skill, you must work with peers to both perfect it and gain acceptance.
(3) You need to pass it on...give advice, provide documentation, teaching another your art.
(4) Above all? Practice. Make mistakes. Look forward to new mistakes everyday. Learn something new. I have nowhere near the chops I had when I was in high school...but I can still practice.

What do you play?

4 Comments:

Blogger Philip Hartman said...

I think you and are on a smiliar wavelength. I played French Horn all through high school and a couple of years in college. I was pretty decent. I was 2nd chair in the Tennessee All-State competition in 1976 as a junior in high school.

I made a similar point about playing a musical instrument as related to creative problem solving ability in my post at How to Become More Creative in Solving Problems

10:40:00 PM  
Blogger JT said...

Hi Phil,
Glad to hear there are others with an affinity for music.
I believe (and this is proven) as the neurons get trained to fire in our brains in repeatable patterns...it becomes increasingly difficult to think "out-of-box" and innovate. Music forces the brain and the body to respond differently...which allows the mind to grow.
Cheers and thanks for posting!
-JT

11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Philip Hartman said...

Interesting insight about the neurons getting locked into a pattern. If you have a favorite reference on this, I might like to read more.

9:33:00 AM  
Blogger JT said...

Hi Phil,
Consider the following:

http://www.ed.gov/pubs/RoadtoRead/part2.html

http://www.heartmathreport.com/index.php/C21/

http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/content2/Creativity_in_kids.html

http://www.bottomlineinnovation.com/

http://www.creativityatwork.com/

Please let me know new insight resonates!

-JT

10:58:00 AM  

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