Open your… whatever… senses

Ellery Eskelin writes:

Having recently listened to interviews with Joe Henderson and Gary Bartz about how they teach/taught, I’ve been emphasizing the aural approach in lessons more and more. Students have been learning Lester Young solos off the recordings strictly by ear, and memorizing them on their instrument with nothing written down. I’ve also been teaching them how to figure out the chords and harmonies to tunes this way as well.

It seems like such a simple thing, but “the ear” seems to be an undervalued asset in jazz education generally. Learning with the ears alone integrates every aspect of the music and music-making all at once, and serves for a more profound and much longer lasting impact. I can see lights flashing on in their minds as the beauties of these solos reveal themselves in a way that the student has never experienced before. And in speaking with them afterwards, I realize that their eyes are opened to the world in new ways as the ramifications of how this music was created begin to sink in. Hearing a developing musician come in and play these solos to me along with the recordings is such a beautiful experience that it lifts my spirits for days!

Jimmy Heath says:

“People listen to music in different ways. Most of the people in the world listen with their bodies, so the body’s got an ear. And then the heart’s got an ear. And the mind’s got an ear. A lot of people hear the whole complete thing. When you’re musically inclined, people listen scientifically: ‘Oh, what he did, he played a thirteenth, ninth, all that stuff.’ But some people just sit around, and the beat goes and they just start movin.’ They’re listenin’ with their body, and they don’t care what kind of chord you play. ‘What kind of chord? What’s a chord?’ They don’t even know what a chord is! And as a romantic person, I hear with my heart. Benny Powell used to say, ‘That music touched me where I live.’ I like that phrase. Inside his heart.”

Are there equivalents for eyes? Body/heart/mind seem more useful than melody/harmony/rhythm for analogies.

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