The 7 Blind men and the Elephant

Seven blind men went out to describe what an elephant was like.

The first one bumped into the side of the beast and promptly declared that an elephant was like a wall.

Another grabbed a leg and said (disagreeing with the first) that in fact an elephant was like a tree trunk.

A third one grabbed the tail and said (implying that the other two were crazy) that an elephant is like a rope.

Anyway you get the gist of the story. The point here is that the only way to truly understand any complex subject is to look at it from as many different angles as possible.

There are many ways to learn music, and you should utilize as many of them as possible to get the most complete understanding possible.

Ways to learn:

1. Teachers

2. Friends & aquaintances

3. Books

4. Videos & other multimedia (including software)

5. Internet

6. LISTEN to recordings

7. Write, compose & improvise YOURSELF

In addition, don't just study your own instrument, transcribe horn & guitar solos. Figure out bass lines. You'll begin to look at music from an arranger's point of view.

Instead of saying to yourself "What should I do now that makes 'big ego ME' look great in the audiences eyes?" Rather ask yourself what is the most appropriate thing to do in this specific situation that gives the song and the arrangement exactly what it needs and works best for the entire ensemble together as a team!

Remember, knowing music doesn't just mean mastering your own instrument, it means taking into account the entire history of music and understanding deeply how all of the different instruments perform their function to make the "whole greater than the sum of its parts".

Otherwise, you're stumbling in the dark like one of the seven blind men.

Thanks to John G. Saxe for his poem "The Blind Men and the Elephant"

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copyright 2003 Jeff Brent

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