Music is the vessel that unites humanity; its beauty has no limitations and its presence has the ability to reach the deepest corners of our hearts. One of the most powerful and long-lasting assignments appointed to musicians is to use their God-given abilities to create music with purpose: to uplift the human spirit, to promote creative ingenuity among listeners, and to facilitate students' artistic development. As educators, we are blessed with a mandate from above to nurture the future generation into becoming shining examples of character, and then release them into their assignment; provoking the hearts of humanity using the power of music.
FOR MUSICIANS: Very frequently, I get private messages from performing artists asking me the question, "How do I expand and develop my improvisation skills?" To the surprise of many, my responses are not what they would expect. This is my most recent response yet. I hope it helps you. Read below.
"That is a question that is far too deep to answer with mere sentences. However, I would suggest for you to first reflect, analyze, and determine what your mission is in life. That can ascertain how you go about learning and transmitting music through your instrument, for the sake of others. Second, I would suggest you to do intense listening complimented with thinking about all kinds of music, even music that you do not like; listen to instruments/music/voices you are unfamiliar or un-interested in to see and learn as many approaches as possible to music. Read biographies from artists and learn why they are using their music to impact people's lives - what is their incentive? Then ask yourself what is your incentive for learning and performing music? Doing so may allot you more conviction and influence through your musical expression and communication, so long as you reflect on yourself as an artist. Remember that to be an artist is not to seek self glorification. It is to serve and to minister to people, to meet a need in and ameliorate humanity. Third, I suggest you do intensive listening complimented with diligent practice and playing with your instrument and without your instrument using mental imagery techniques - also record yourself playing with audio or video recording devices. That way you can be critical about your playing, assess your areas of weakness, and refine with thoughtful consideration until you're playing reaches a blissful state of consciousness, where your expression is akin to the comfort level of your ability to speak and communicate to others through language; unconscious knowing (check out the theory of levels of awareness by Anthony Wellington, back up bassist for Victor Wooten)￼. Essentially, your aim should be to practice multidimensionally. You have to be true to yourself and you have to be truthful with yourself regarding where you are at as an artist. From there, you may only begin to walk a processing journey towards becoming a better musical artist and a better improviser. I hope that helps."
My Thought of the Day:
Regardless of what storms may come your way, stay bold and strong, pull through the burden, the storm will pass and the sunshine will soon appear. Pursue the dream and share it with those who encourage your dream to come to pass. Stay humble, Be grateful, and Always love!
Our second nomination, 17th Annual Latin GRAMMY® nominated album for Best Instrumental Album is Bruno Miranda's "Mosaico", an album I engineered, co-composed music, and participated as a multi-instrumentalist. We are still mind-blown by the news and are grateful to share the music with you. Imagine this: It all began when three brothers (Bruno Miranda, Jesse Pitts, and José Valentino) said, "Let's make a project that truly represents friendship and acceptance of one another as unique entities who come together for the homologous purpose of celebrating God's greatness and wonder through the power of music." We came, we saw, we realized, we applied action, and we applied Faith, Hope, and Love into this musical project. These are the same ingredients for our first nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album last year, José Valentino and The Latin Jazz Ensemble's "I Make You Want To Move."
Hence, I encourage anyone and everyone to pursue their vision. Dream with a plan, a purpose, and a destination. As a music business and music production professor at Lee University, I teach this manifesto to my students, and better yet, I get to demonstrate it to them in real-world contexts. They know that this accomplishment is the product of hard work, vision, passion, love, discipline, and dedication towards a dream. That being said, there is so much potential in each of the Lee University students I encounter. My Prayer: God, help lead me to maximize and blossom students' potential to become powerful and effective agents of the Gospel, using music as the medium for expressing your wonder and glory. Amen.
God bless you all! Shine on! Las Vegas, here we come!
"Imagery is a powerful communicative tool that has been utilized for millennia to express humanity’s deepest desires, ideas, and emotions. It is a subject that is both transparent in its ability to improve human perception and performance, and yet, mysterious in its unpredictable influence on people’s expressions and perceptions that are dependent on the context and medium in which people employ to express themselves. I encourage educators and performers to utilize imagery, in conjunction with technical instruction, for teaching aspiring performing artists strategies to remediate obstacles that impinge their learning, to enhance their musical expressivity, and to enrich their quality of life. Imagination is the root for which expression, creativity, and innovation spawn from. Let us never negate the power of imagery in educational contexts, for cultivating students’ ability to engage the imagination can liberate them to becoming expressive communicators of thought, especially through music." José Valentino Ruiz, PhD, excerpt from dissertation
The Effects of Technical and Imagery-Based Instruction on Aspiring Performing Artists' Acquisition of Learning Newly Composed Pieces and Improvisation and on Listeners' Perceived Expressivity.