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Sometimes you can’t help but take your work home with you.You don’t want to, it just sometimes happens that way. Sometimes it just permeates your thinking. Just pops in there. Out of nowhere. A little thought that inevitably becomes a whole bigger thought. A thought that leads you to write a blog about that time you went to a jazz cafe…

I’m a musician on the side of being in learning design, I’ve played and written songs for as long as I have been able to hold a guitar. I’m not saying I’m great at it… just that I do it. Not that this is massively relevant, but it gives a little context to the fact that music is a huge part of my life. My teacher friend? Not so much. Tone deaf, and musically ignorant doesn’t really cover it, and my love for jazz is as perplexing to her as thimble collecting is to me.  The inevitable ‘I just don’t get it…’ conversation popped up again recently, so I suggested we go see some real jazz, played live, by people who do get it.

‘Why is it just so random’ she asked. ‘Why is it never the same?’ ‘It’s just a bunch of people playing different things, all at the same time…’

To which I agreed, and then vehemently disagreed with her at the same time. This annoyed her more.

‘You see, jazz’ I started ‘is harmony and disjoint, it’s noise and symphony…’ I’d already lost her by this point. I drank a little more as I let the music wash over me. Then it came to me. Just like that. Pop!

‘Jazz follows very stringent rules, but it allows a great deal of freedom within those rules. It’s like the mind. An idea is only formed when a kaleidoscope of thoughts collide, it appears when connections are made and processed.’

I’d struck a chord.

‘Each member of the band holds and dictates a rhythm, each have a voice, each allows the other to speak. It’s mutually respecting, they encourage, almost tease and inspire the next member to voice their inspiration…’

I went further.

‘When a piece of jazz starts, it does so by laying the foundation for what it wants to be, it allows the players and the listener to adjust… it’s like…. a good piece of learning.’

It was at this point that a quote from Jazz Maestro, Miles Davis, came to mind. He had said “…it’s not just about the notes you play. It’s about the notes you don’t”. Great learning doesn’t set everything out for you. It allows the learner to make connections. It encourages the learner to learn. Where the thought that ideas ‘don’t just happen’, the same can be said about learning. If we allow ourselves to break through patterns, to accept that learning has to be teased, inspired and encouraged we can in turn noise to symphony.

I had a text a couple of days later from my friend. She had just bought her first jazz album; it was a Miles Davis compilation.

Sometimes it pays to be a little more… jazz.

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