Esquire.com recently featured a wonderful article by basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabaar: 20 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was 30.
Among the 20 tidbits of wisdom is this: Play the piano.
I took lessons as a kid but, like a lot of kids, didn’t stick with them. Maybe I felt too much pressure. After all, my father had gone to the Julliard School of Music and regularly jammed with some great jazz musicians. Looking back, I think playing piano would have given me a closer connection with my dad as well as given me another artistic outlet to better express myself.
How many people do you know who have the same regret?
Maybe you’re one of them?
I run into it all the time. People who, upon finding out I’m a musician, tell me that they “used to” take lessons on some instrument or another. Most of the time, they’ll go on to tell me that they wish they had kept up with it.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping anyone from picking it back up, at any age. Kareem was in his mid-fifties when he figured that out:
In 2002, I finally started to play and got pretty good at it. Not good enough that at parties people would chant for me to play “Piano Man,” but good enough that I could read music and feel closer to my dad.
And that, folks, is how a champion handles regret: By doing something about it.
…the swingers of golf clubs that is.
Once again, I’ll be accompanying (on piano) vocalist Kristine Mylls during the “Dinner and Auction” portion of the 28th Annual Music City Golf Tournament, benefiting the Ronald McDonald House of Nashville.
The dinner takes place at LP Field the evening before the actual golfing. In addition to the music, it always promises some great food, plenty of drinks, and tables of interesting silent auction items. Plus the view of downtown Nashville from LP Field’s club level is tough to beat!
There’s still time to register, and if you’re not a golfer you can even purchase tickets to just the dinner. See you there!
I’m a huge fan of MOOCs (massive, open, online courses). So I’m especially excited about the handful of classes being offered for free on Coursera by one of my alma maters, Berklee College of Music.
The Introduction to Improvisation course, taught by legendary vibraphonist Gary Burton, looks particularly interesting. Improvisation is a valuable and rewarding skill, regardless of what style of music you typically play. If you’re a musician who currently doesn’t do much of it, this course should be right up your alley. Of course, there’s always something more to learn in the world of music, so I’d expect that those of you who are already experienced improvisers will still pick up a thing or two. (I’m also curious to see Burton’s approach to presenting a subject that isn’t always easy to teach.)
The course opens
Monday, April 22nd. I’m enrolled… maybe I’ll see you there!
Did I mention that it’s free?
UPDATE: The launch of the course has been delayed one week to Monday, April 29th.
They’ve just announced the workshop line-up for this year’s Leavenworth International Accordion Festival in June, and it looks pretty good!
I try to keep up with the news of the various conferences and festivals that pop up each year, even though I have yet to attend any of them. Leavenworth has always been at the top of my list because it just seems like so much laid-back fun. Heck, I’m a sucker for faux Bavarian villages, so I’d probably visit Leavenworth even without an accordion festival.
One of these years, when I have the dollars in the travel budget and the courage to fly commercial with an accordion, I’ll make it out there. (Something tells me the former will be easier to come up with than the latter.)
Main street, Leavenworth. Photo by David Morgan-Mar, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
NPR’s article on last month’s passing of the great Van Cliburn retells the story of how the pianist gained his initial fame at 23 by winning the inaugural International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958.
This was huge.
If you think accordions are just good for polkas, check out the bookings page. I’ve added a list of just some of the songs I typically play on accordion gigs.
It’s a good illustration of the many styles possible on accordion–French waltzes, Italian tarantellas, Broadway hits, Beatles classics, Argentinian tangos… you name it!
The Listen page has now been upgraded to feature a snappy “jukebox” style player for some of my piano recordings. (This is another reason why I love SoundCloud. It makes that sort of thing very easy to do.)
And yes, accordion clips are in the works…
The new year brings a complete redesign of my website — the biggest overhaul since I launched www.jeffjetton.com way back in 1996.
And while I still play plenty of piano, the focus of the site now is on accordion, an instrument I’ve found myself drawn to playing more and more over the years. (But more on that later!)