Musical Fast Track Lesson 2 – Put Yourself On a Mission

In the last lesson of “21 Great Ways to Become a Monster Jazz Musician” we talked about musical values. We talked about how making choices based on our values will focus our musical efforts and ensure an individual and original sound and approach, the goal of all jazz musicians. In this lesson we will talk about being “on a mission.”

Now that you have determined your values and what’s important to you musically, the next step is to create your mission statement. In a nut shell, this is the ultimate purpose and objective of your practicing, gigging, listening, studying and composing. This is a sentence that explains what you are aiming to accomplish.

Think about it this way: When NASA sends a shuttle on a “mission” to space, they have a reason for it. They don’t just say, “Hey, we’ve got nothing to do today, let’s send the shuttle up into space, for fun.” They send it up for a reason. They send it up to put a satellite into orbit, to repair the XYZ doo-hickey on the space station and to complete a particular experiment. Now, it seems ridiculous to send the space shuttle into orbit and spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours of work for no purpose–in other words, with no mission. So why would you want to spend thousands of hours practicing and thousands of dollars going to school and studying with no purpose for your music?

Write down your mission. Write down in words what it is you plan to accomplish with music. What is your main focus? Don’t rush this. Spend some time thinking about it. Writing down your mission or “major definite purpose” will have profound effects on your musical progress. Without a mission it’s as if you are on a road trip with no destination or reason in mind. This might sound like fun for awhile, but unless you are extremely lucky and the exception to the rule, you will end up nowhere. If you intend to make a major contribution to jazz and become a monster jazz musician, you must have a purpose and a mission.

Here’s a great exercise to help you get started on your mission statement: Write a eulogy for yourself. What would you want people to say about your music after you’re gone? What do you want to be remembered for? What will be your legacy? If you know the answers to these questions, you are in the minority and on the fast track to realizing your musical dreams.

Once you have crafted a mission statement, use it as a springboard. Refer to it when you are making your practice routines. Refer to it when you start a new musical project or even buy a new method book. Use it to help you make all of your music-related choices.

Action Step1: Write your own eulogy. How do you want to be remembered?

Action Step 2: Get a blank piece of paper. At the top write your new mission statement. Remember, this is the ultimate goal of your musical journey. Next, write your list of values. These will be your guides and signposts on your mission. Refer to the list of your favorite players from Lesson One if you need inspiration. You have now begun a strong foundation to support yourself on your way to success.

In our next lesson we’ll start to get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about deciding exactly what you want to learn and achieve with music. Until next time…