“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist”.

A few years ago, Kenny Werner was the head piano tutor on the Sligo Jazz Project.

To begin his first masterclass of the week, he asked each student to play something for him. We varied hugely in age, ability and taste, but each overcame an element of stage fright to perform in front of Mr. Werner and our peers.

One guy got up and played something beautiful. I’m guessing it was his composition, possibly improvised on the spot, full of emotion and passion. Mr. Werner wasn’t impressed however.

He had spotted that this guy was full of heart, soul and brilliantly able to express it, but didn’t know any of the basics of jazz piano. He was operating entirely from instinct, and while this got him so far, Kenny called him out on it and told him to spend the week learning as much as possible about jazz harmony, because if he could apply that knowledge to his already well-developed sense of improvisation and expression, it would benefit him and his playing greatly.

I was reminded of this story when I read a quote (see title of today’s blog) from Pablo Picasso today – thanks Tim Ferriss. Enough said.



One thought on ““Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist”.

  1. Well said. The grandest building would crumble without a solid foundation. No matter what we do in life the basics are incredibly important.

    Liked by 1 person

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