Finding Life’s Jazz Standard
Every good jazz musician’s repertoire includes a set of songs known as jazz standards. A jazz standard is a song that is widely played, recorded, and listened to by musicians and listeners around the world. A big part of jazz is improvisation and jazz standards make improvising an easier task. The use of these standards allows musicians to be able to focus on creativity rather than having to think too much about the constraints of the basics song. As an added bonus, familiarizing with a standard allows musicians to be able to comfortably jam with any other musician that knows the same standard at a moment’s notice. So it is a great tool for musical collaboration as well!
Essentially, the structure of a standard provides the freedom for creativity. This is not just a fact of jazz but can also become a fact of life.
In life, it is important to set a foundation for yourself so that you can create from a level above the basics.
In doing this, the basics are now muscle memory and you can set yourself free to explore the possibilities of any given idea or task. After setting this foundation, practice how to verbalize what this life standard is. Verbalizing the level from which you are creating will allow you to communicate more clearly with team members and potential collaborators which in turn will lead to a sweeter harmony between everyone in the process.
Check out 3 steps that I took in order to set a standard that opened the door for freer creativity:
1. Master the basics
To create from a level above the basics, you can’t just know the basics, have to master the basics. Make the basics a part of your muscle memory by implementing the 10,000 hours rule which is the principle that in order to master something you need 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice.” Let it become second nature.
2. Find your go-to
When I was first learning jazz standards on the electric bass, my go-to standard was Autumn Leaves. Having a go-to gave me a level of comfort to create and improvise in any space because I knew I could rely on at least one standard that I was fully confident in. This applies to life also. Find your go-to atmosphere setter that will give you full confidence to begin creating anywhere you are. Know what gets your mind ready to go. For me, it’s throwing on my headphones and zoning out to a good working playlist!
3. Trust the process
As cliche as this phrase has become now, to me, the meaning will never get old. When you master the basics, find your go-to atmosphere setter, and are ready to create, all that’s left to do is trust your preparation and to trust the process. Let the creative juices flow and watch yourself naturally make it happen!