A Jazz Musicians' Guide to Living In The Universe

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You are the master of your destiny. If you want to be great, then be great. —Dom Minasi
I've been on Facebook for three years and many of my friends and colleagues have posted quotes from musicians and philosophers. I've decided to start writing my own quotes about what I have learned and experienced through the years. Since I've been a professional musician since 1957 and playing the guitar over 63 years, I have learned a few things. Some the hard way and some just through living. The years have given me some insights, which I would like to share with you, my All About Jazz readers.

You don't become a great player by practicing scales and arpeggios. You become a great player by playing and with as many great players as you can. It's the old way. You learn on the bandstand and most of all you listen.

I personally think to grow as a an improvising musician you need to constantly re-invent yourself.

Don't use the first set to warm up. Come ready to play and play like you mean it.

If you're going to put a group together make sure you pick musicians who are compatible with you, the other musicians and the music. Don't pick someone because they have a rep as a great player. Sometimes great players just don't fit in.

You are the master of your destiny. If you want to be great, then be great.

If you think of music as the job, please; change jobs!

Be honest in your music. It would be a disservice to you and your audience if you're not."

If you want to be on and ready, "introduce yourself to your instrument everyday."

The instrument doesn't play you, you play it!"

In free jazz, although there is no time signature, there is a kind of built-in swing. Just close your eyes and feel it.

The really good free players have a good understanding of harmony and theory. They can play on changes and in time.

Jazz is not just music it's a life.

Honor the artistry in you.

Putting yourself out there as a jazz recording artist takes confidence, courage and thick skin.

If you're going to teach, do it for the love of teaching and giving back.

Calling oneself a jazz musician is an honor. You owe it to yourself and others to dignify that title with respect, honor and truthfulness.

You can't call yourself a jazz musician if you haven't actually worked as a jazz musician.

Doesn't matter how much speed or technique you have; if it isn't musical it ain't worth nothing.

You may have a tremendous amount of musical knowledge, but if you don't have the ears to go with that knowledge, you will be lacking the most important element to your musicianship.

Reading isn't essential to be a great improviser, but it will make you a better musician.

Sometimes we as jazz musicians take ourselves too seriously. We sometimes forget that we need to enjoy ourselves and in doing that, it will translate to the listener and they in return will enjoy themselves too.

Treat your musical friends and bandmates the way you would want to be treated, with respect, honesty, loyalty and love.

Jazz stars aren't necessarily the best musicians, but probably the luckiest.

Emulate not imitate if you want to stand on your own.

Try to be a successful human being before you become a successful musician.

Taking chances in life as well as music is the way to go if you want to learn and grow

Racism and jazz don't mix. The forefathers of jazz were black and to be racist is absurd.

Being selfish about your knowledge is detrimental to giving back and sharing with younger inexperienced musicians.

Sometimes we as jazz musicians put too much pressure on ourselves to play well and the result is the opposite, which acts as a deterrent to what we want to achieve, which is to enjoy ourselves.

If you can't leave your ego at the door, don't go through the door.

No matter what's going on in your personal life, don't bring it on the bandstand.

The sound in your head and heart is reflected in your instrument and how you play it.

One absolute thing I have learned, "don't be so cocky, there's always someone better."

It's over sooner than you think, so don't waste time and give all you got.

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