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My Intensive at the Stanford Jazz Festival

Six full days of music last week has me feeling so inspired and motivated! The Stanford Jazz Festival is currently in its 50th year and welcomes musicians both on faculty and students from all over the world to Palo Alto, California. I decided to apply for the adult jazz piano intensive as one of my teachers, Jeremy Siskind was leading the program. I was pleasantly surprised to meet so many phenomenal players along the week and I'm sharing with you three lessons that I think you can also benefit from.


Lessons from Patrice

Out of all of the lectures, jam sessions and masterclasses the session that encouraged me the most was given by one of my favorite musicians, Patrice Rushen. She gave a lecture on her life and career in music and how broad the genres spanned that she created. She spoke of living across the street from Etta James and getting to observe Earth, Wind & Fire in their infancy in her youth. She talked about how she didn't always love classical music but continued in piano lessons until she was a senior in high school. She reminisced on sometimes playing James Brown and Michael Jackson for her piano teacher instead of her Brahms and Mozart pieces. What her piano teacher told her parents was this---"You just need to get Patrice to her piano lesson and KEEP bringing her...I'll handle the rest." This struck me because I realized I had the same experience with my teachers and that ultimately what kept me playing. I didn't necessarily practice a whole lot when I was first learning but over time just the mere fact that I stuck with it made the difference. The teachers I studied with showed me music they enjoyed AND play music I like. That helped me cultivate and deepen my love of music.


Patrice talked about how regardless of what music your studying, it all informs the other.She also talked about how we go through different seasons of learning and study in music and to be mindful of that.

Miriam Morales & Patrice Rushen at the Stanford Jazz Festival in Palo Alto, California.


Lessons for My Fellow Adult Learners

Another encouraging element was that there were so many adults who attended the conference. They were computer engineers, lawyers, professors ranging from 25 years to 65 years and yet we all had made the time and space to be with music learning. We talked a time or two about the different responsibilities we have waiting for us back home and then said, "Let's get back to the music." If you're an adult learner of music, just remember that we have the gift of learning and playing the rest of our lives...there's really no deadline.

Adult Professionals making time for jazz music.


Jazz Pianists and the great pianist George Cables.


Luciana Souza & Dafnis Prieto Band on the opening night of the Stanford Jazz Festival.


Lessons from Live Music

I've said this before but there is really nothing better than attending live concerts given by different artists. There's always an element of improvisation and the energy of the audience and the band feeding one another. There was a concert from a stellar band every single night of the Festival. Yes it takes a little time and research but make this a part of your routine life even if its just once a month. I try to share good local concerts of a diverse blend in our newsletters so keep up with that.

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