Dwayne Burno: Tradition
GC: What advice do I give to young jazz students?
DB: I try to tell whatever students I come in contact with to never stop listen and learning. The moment you think you know it all is the point where you plateau. There is more than enough inspiration within the history, science, theories, sounds, knowledge and information of music to keep you busy forever. Keep going beyond. Learn tunes. Buy recordings. Buy sheet music. Learn the lyrics, forms, verses, melodies, changes, and harmonies of tunes correctly. Consistently, investigate; you hear a quote in someone's solo, ask where it comes from. Don't stop at the Real Book and take the changes to any tune as gospel.
I tell any young musicians that ask anything of me, to never stop listening. Investigate everything. Do your homework. Learn tunes, buy recordings, read and learn great and not so great artist's histories. Practice and develop things that put you atop the call list and separate you from the herd. Things like sight-reading, intonation, quality instrumental tone, sonic production and projection, and development of your ear so that you can hear and still perform if there is no music. Do the intangibles. Dress appropriately and correctly for your engagement. Take pride in your appearance. Respect yourself, your craft and your audience. Arrive early to work, which may require leaving earlier. Speak well which means courteously and without vulgarity or profanity. Know when to speak on and off the cuff and to whom you're speaking and judge whether it is time to speak in a professional or more relaxed manner. Remember, you are in business. You ultimately work for the persons or commercial entities that hire your services. They are not your friends. At the end of the day, they are more concerned with their job and their families than you and your job and family.
I recommend remaining respectful, courteous and professional when addressing those that employ you but I also recommend that you stand up for yourself and your band and accept nothing less than what is correct or fair and proper treatment. If you erode the face of professionalism with profanity, candor and off color commentary, you risk not being taken seriously when it's time to talk money. Do not drink alcohol until the gig is over; especially if you can't handle yourself well after one or more drinks. This you should know about yourself. Treat and take your music and work as seriously as you expect those in other serious professions and positions. Do you want a drunk or high airline pilot, heart or brain surgeon, train conductor, bus or livery driver?
I urge all young musicians to stay fit, spiritually, mentally, physically and musically. This has been what I personally discuss, especially with younger, black musicians. Knowing that we as an ethnic grouping experience more disease and illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke as a result of stress, dietary and lifestyle choices, and lack of exercise. I urge young musicians to engage in healthier eating, trying to eat at healthier times (like not eating after your gig then going to sleep), exercise which could be as involved as hitting the gym three or four times a week or simply walking a mile a day, getting the right amount of rest and sleep, eliminating salt and saturated fat from your diet, participating in a stress relieving activity like a yoga class. I helped one friend, a pianist, James Austin to do what it took to take the steps to get a handle on his blood pressure. This was through me detailing what my life and routine were when I was doing daily kidney dialysis over a meal. He called a couple of months after hearing what I said and thanked me because after hearing what I was going through, he knew he had to regain control of his health and proactively make sound and necessary adjustments in his behavior and choices.