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  • Music Mentors

    By Dendy Jarrett |

    Music Mentors

    Who helped you make better music?


    by Dendy Jarrett




    As you read about music gear and articles about how to make better music (at Harmony Central), stop and consider not just how much you don't know, but more importantly, how much you do know – because you may be selling yourself short as to how you can use your talents.


    Most of us have had someone, or multiple people, who has mentored us along our musical journey. If you love playing the blues, it would be hard to discount the influence of B.B. King or Stevie Ray Vaughan or a myriad other swampy blues guitarists. While not teachers in the traditional sense, these were "virtual music mentors" even before there was such a thing as “virtual.”


    I can look back and trace a line of the people who have mentored me. I grew up in a small town and we had the same band director from 4th grade through 12th grade. There really isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t recall something that Mr. Jim Mills taught me. And that mentoring carried over into everyday life. It wasn’t just a musical influence; it was life lessons, problem solving, leadership, tenacity, believing in oneself...the list could go on.


    You may think of yourself as a musician, but whether you're aware of it or not, you're also a music mentor. When you play with other musicians, you can't help but communicate what you've learned – while you learn from how others play their music.


    My Keep Music Alive article discussed how sharing music is what makes music immortal. Similarly, being a music mentor helps keep music alive as well. And it doesn’t matter if you're into renaissance period baroque or 1980s death metal—the notes are the same (but that’s another article for another day).


    There are so many ways you can be a music mentor: From sharing your music, helping a kid be inspired to play the guitar, volunteering with your child's band booster club, teaching lessons, and of course, posting on Harmony Central's forums.


    So, if you haven’t thought about mentoring lately, and this article reminded you of who mentored you, reach out to them and say thank you for the impact they had on your life. Then take the next step: pay it forward.


    PS: If someone was a mentor to you, please join the discussion at Harmony Central.


    PSS: If you haven't signed up for our bi-weekly e-zine, Make Better Music, please do so on the upper right corner of our home page.






    Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.


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    Brian Eno for his approach to music, music recording/production and the way he would get various musicians who didn't know each other to interact by creating imaginary scenarios, sonic approaches, and general philosophy.

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    It's a good article.


    Taking for granted what you can do, being your own worst critic and diminishing its worth to the audible isolation of 4 walls, the tendency is to remain isolated. While I have received compliments I tend to overtly show appreciation and then silently dismiss them as the kind gestures one gives to be nice. Rethinking it, I know I could assemble a lesson plan that could be simple enough to provide the clarity and mechanics of playing an entry level person could easily negotiate. Do I care enough to?


    I have a small M&P I visit to get strings and spend a couple minutes looking at their inventory of low-end guitars. Sometimes I might take something down and give it a quick run-through but most times I won't. And, there was usually one or more people who are obviously new to the instrument, showing the same enthusiasm I had when I was a rank beginner at the same age, placing chords and playing like noobs. I'd think to myself that one day, if they are ambitious, they will continue to learn and grow as musicians. I never did I think that I might play a role in that and I still don't.


    Self made and taught, I tend to broad brush that method as the best way to go. One thing is certain, if you want it bad enough and are willing to put forth the effort, you will achieve that goal and it doesn't include waiting around for someone to throw a few pearls of wisdom at you on some schedule convenient to all but you.


    The only genuine teacher is the one inside the student's desire to learn.


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