I suck at jazz, and that’s exactly why I’m qualified to teach it

This is the fifth email I’ve written today.

I sat down and said “I’m going to write five emails all in one go.”

I don’t know if I’ll send it. I don’t know if I’ll send any of them. Maybe you’ve already read some of them, or maybe I haven’t even sent them.

I’m writing these as a practice. I want to get better at writing emails. So, I’m practicing it.

I posted a video of some jazz improv the other day in a Facebook group. I’m a total beginner at jazz improv, so I’m sure it sucked.

Predictably, I got some responses from jazz teachers:

  • “I will say this very plainly and matter-of-factly: you absolutely COULD NOT play along with jazz pros if you played like that. No way, not a chance.”

  • “there are plenty of high schoolers and even some middle schoolers who would earn a higher score on a jazz piano adjudication, compared with this sample you’ve given us.”

  • “That’s demeaning to over a hundred years worth of dedicated innovative musical artists. Trashing their entire life’s work as if saying that all they’ve ever done is aimless meandering and meaningless noodles.”

This is why people are afraid to try new things.

But, here’s the thing: if you look past those responses, there’s a whole new vista of possibilities. A completely open highway where they are simply incapable of hurting you.

As a “bad jazz pianist”, I have so much more power than I did as “a pianist who can’t play jazz”.

For example, I can now teach people how to play even when they’re afraid to because they think they suck. Couldn’t do that before, because I didn’t have personal experience.

Yeah, the jazz teachers might not like it, but so what? They’re not my customers.

You are.

(when you’re ready to change how you look at music, this is where you should start.)

—Michael

P.S. Let’s take a vote. Will I send this email?

About the author 

Michael Korman

Meditation teacher. I help people integrate their minds and bodies so they can learn skills like piano, drawing, writing, etc.

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