Learn From the Masters!

By Ron Rosenberg

The end of the year is generally a time for celebration as we get together with friends and family - many of whom travel great distances to be with the people most important to them.

There is also the usual Christmas music, with the same 15 or 20 songs being played in the stores over and over again in different variations. I honestly don't know how the people who work in these stores keep their sanity, since this music seems to start as early as October!

So to give you a break, let's switch to a different genre of music, and see what we can learn in the process.

We'll start with the song "Third Wind" from Pat Metheny's 1987 release, "Still Life (Talking)." In case you're not familiar with his work, a quick background is probably in order.

Pat Metheny is one of the best and most versatile jazz guitarists ever; he has an active career that spans five decades; and he's won 18 Grammy awards.

So let's start our "musical journey" today with a recording of "Third Wind." We're specifically interested in the guitar solo that runs from 1:37 to 3:10 on the following audio clip, which you can advance to, but feel free to enjoy as much of the song as you like!

We could spend an entire article talking about the artistry, precision, and intensity of this solo, but if we just accept at face value that it's really good, then we can move on to the first of three important lessons.

One of the best ways to learn jazz improvisation (or anything else, for that matter) is to commit to a deliberate study of the giants in your field who have come before you and paved the way for your own success.

A common learning technique for advanced musicians is to transcribe and learn solos by famous artists. So with the memory of the "original" still fresh in your mind, take a listen to this clip of French guitarist Francis Larue doing just that - playing Pat Metheny's solo - note for note:

Now for the second lesson. One of the key marketing concepts we teach is to look for samples outside your own business or profession. So even though this is a guitar solo, look what Benoît Sauvé, also from France, can do with the simple "recorder" - normally considered a child's instrument:

In all fairness, Benoît is probably the best in the world on this particular instrument, but still, he is able to cross over - bringing a guitar solo to the recorder.

The final lesson is this: in order to learn from the masters, you have to know who they are. One of my marketing mentors claimed to be able to stump 99% of the people by asking them to name the three or four people in their profession who were the "giants" in that particular field.

Far too many people charge forward without a clear understanding of what's already been accomplished in the past. Take this as a personal invitation to identify the leaders in your field and learn from these masters!