Inspiring Quotes from Musicians and Artists

"No matter how complex the arrangement, chord changes, or time signature, jazz is still dance music for me. It's old and new, warm and cool. Certainly the most ancient rhythm is that steady, "inevitable" pulsation delivered by string bass and leavened by a ride cymbal pattern or brushes on a snare drum. When bass and drums lock in, a soloist may explore the unexpected rhythmically, harmonically, and melodically. Becoming a small democracy, we listen and allow, offering our ideas in real time. Even simple statements, when sincere, contribute to the collective effort to touch something ineffable, while our feet, your faithful rhythm section, stay on the ground."

~ drummer Kit Bailey (SJS Jazz Camp Faculty)

"I was pretty young when I realized that music involves more than just playing an instrument. It's really about cohesiveness and sharing. All my life I've felt obliged to try and teach anyone who would listen. I've always believed you don't truly know something yourself until you can take it from your mind and put it in someone else's. I also know that the only way we continue to live on this earth is by giving our talents to the younger generation"

~ bassist Milt Hinton

"Re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the rich fluency, not only in words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes, in every motion and joint in your body."

~ Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Constant Conversation

Who is the luckiest in this whole orchestra? The reed.
Its mouth touches your lips to learn music.
All reeds, sugarcane especially think only
of this chance. They sway in the canebrake,
free in the many ways they dance.

Without you the instruments would die.
One sits close beside you. Another takes a long kiss.
The tambourine begs, Touch my skin, so I can be myself.
Let me feel you enter each limb bone by bone,
that what died last night can be whole today.

Why live some soberer way and feel you ebbing out?
I won't do it.
Either give me enough wine or leave me alone,
now that I know how it is
to be with you in a constant conversation.

~ Rumi translated by Coleman Barks

"Teaching is not the filling of a pail. It's the light of a fire."

~ William Butler Yeats

"Art teaches nothing, except the significance of life."

~ Henry Miller

"Not everything is for everybody."

~ Cartoonist Robert Crumb

"Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire."

~ Gustav Mahler

"Music is an Open Sky"

~ Sonny Rollins

"I always thought jazz was like the trunk of a tree. After the tree has grown, many branches have spread out. They're all with different leaves and they all look beautiful. But at the end of the season, they fold back up and it's still the tree trunk."

~ Earl Hines, as told to Studs Terkel

"Jazz is the only music in which the same note can be played night after night but differently each time. It's the hidden things, the subconscious that lies in the body and lets you know: you feel this, you play this."

~ Ornette Coleman

"I think the main thing a musician would like to do is to give a picture to the listener of the many wonderful things he knows of and senses in the universe."

~ John Coltrane

"Swing is like being on a tight-rope or rollercoaster. It's like walking in space. It's like a souffle: It rises and rises and rises."

~ Marian McPartland

"Practice very slowly, progress very fast."

~ Nineteenth Century Composer Stephen Heller

"One must practice slowly, then slowly, and finally slowly."

~ Composer Saint Saëns

"When the heart weeps for what it has lost, the spirit laughs for what it has found."

~ Sufi saying

"For beauty is nothing but the beginning of a terror that we are still just able to endure."

~ Rilke

"Worry Later"

~ Title of a Monk composition

Click here for some great information on long tones.

Click here for some great quotes by Elvin Jones, the famous drummer.

"A great teacher is one who realizes that he himself is also a student and whose goal is not dictate the answers, but to stimulate his students creativity enough so that they go out and find the answers themselves."

~ Herbie Hancock

"To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse."

~ Jack Daney

"Flint must be an extremely wealthy town: I see that each of you bought two or three seats."

~ Victor Borge, playing to a half-filled house in Flint, Michigan

"Wagner's music is better than it sounds."

~ Mark Twain

"Jazz is too good for America."

~ Dizzy Gillespie

"Already too loud!"

~ Bruno Walter at his first rehearsal with an American orchestra, on seeing the players reaching for their instruments.

Hopi River Message

You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour.
And there are things to be considered:
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth. Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.
This could be a good time!
There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold onto the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart and they will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore,
Push off into the middle of the river.
Keep our eyes open and our heads above the water.
See who is in there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally.
Least of all, ourselves.
For the moment that we do,
Our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over.
Gather yourselves!
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we've been waiting for.
The Elders
Oraibi, Arizona
Hopi Nation

From Ansel Adams to a friend

"A strange thing happened to me today. I saw a big thundercloud move down from Half Dome. And it was so big and clear and brilliant that it made me see many things that were drifting around inside of me. Things that relate to those who are loved and those who are real friends. For the first time I know what love is, what friends are and what art should be.

Love is a seeking for a way of life, the way that cannot be followed alone, the resonance of all spiritual and physical things. Friendship is another form of love, more passive perhaps but full of the transmitting and acceptances of things like thunderclouds and grass and the clean granite of reality. Art is both love and friendship and understanding, the desire to give.

It is not charity which is the giving of things. It is more than kindness which is the giving of self. It is both the taking and giving of beauty, the turning out to the light of the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. It is a re-creation on another plane of the realities of the world, the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and man and of all the inter-relations of these."

~ Ansel Adams

The Seven Deadly Sins
by Mahatma Gandhi

1) Politics without principle
2) Wealth without work
3) Commerce without morality
4) Pleasure without conscience
5) Education without character
6) Science without humanity
7) Worship without sacrifice