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All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette...

October 2010

By Published: October 6, 2010
How good are you, Jose? Of course you can't judge yourself—like all jazz artists, you feel like a genius on your best days, an imposter on your worst. And you certainly won't get an unbiased opinion from family, friends, or bandmates. So here's the ticket: Since the people you're trying to serve are the listeners, why not ask them directly?

Here's what you do: At your next gig, after your first few tunes, ask the audience members to rate you on a scale of one to ten. They can shout out their numbers, or you can turn it into a party game by handing out Olympics-style judging cards. Either way, there will be lots of laughs and love, which will open the way for honest, heartfelt sharing.

With inhibitions lowered all around, you can to take it to the next stage: Soliciting individual critiques, going around the room in a circle. Then, adjusting your music to the suggestions, you can play a few more tunes—better, of course—then get the next round of feedback. And so on, through the night, until there simply is no question that you are, in fact, really good.

Do you see the beauty of this? Jazz artists are so often criticized for not caring about their listeners. Now, not only will you be tailoring your music to suit them, but you'll also be making them an integral part of the creative process. All while perfecting your art!

In the long run, grandiose as it may sound, this might just be the salvation of jazz, Jose. At the very least, in short order, you'll be able to beep, twit, poke, invite and e-blast with confidence.

Have a question for Mr. P.C.? Ask him.


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