I had the privilege of hearing Wynton Marsalis deliver the keynote address at the Midwest Clinic this last December. He spoke for over an hour about the importance of music and it's educators. His heartfelt words were not only inspiring, but transformed my view of American music. Most notably,
Improvisation. As a musician I have always avoided it - unproductive, unpredictable, messy, and frightening. Wynton's words stopped me in my tracks:
"Improvisation is a pivotal pillar in the American Trinity of Fundamental Music Skills. It teaches self-acceptance and personal pride through developing your own unique sound. It teaches you to identify and investigate your own emotional identity through truthful self-analysis, contemplation, introspection, joy, love, sorrow, weakness, and pain. All through searching for something meaningful to play in our own language."
Inspiring, challenging words. No wonder Improv is so frightening to me. But look what I've been missing. So - this 2013 - I'm jumping in the pool. May I be brave enough to let it shape my music and my life.