Today’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge question/prompt is…
Q: Was there a conference or workshop you attended that was especially beneficial? Where was it? What did you learn?
A: Sadly, I haven’t been to any workshops or conferences all year. It’s been 2 yrs since I played SXSW, and 5 yrs since I attended the best workshop ever…
5 years ago
In 2004, I attended the Banff International Jazz and Creative Music Workshop at the gorgeous Banff Centre. I’ve always wanted to go back to this workshop. Every year I say “maybe next year.”
It happens every May, for 3 weeks, and I often tell people that I learned more about music in those 3 weeks than I did in all 3 years in (music) school.
I guess the stars were aligned that year – I had been out of school for a year, not playing as much as I wanted to, and most importantly…Bill Frisell was going to be there for one whole week! I had to go. I had to meet my hero.
Last night I went through my notes from the workshop. There’s still so much I can learn from those notes, not to mention the 16 mini-discs I recorded while I was there!
The real highlight for me was when I got to play, one-on-one, with Frisell. It was the best musical experience of my life. We played for about an hour and a half, my original tunes and some standards. And we talked. He gave me advice that I needed at that time. He said:
“don’t think that there’s anything you need to do before you can do your thing”
Basically – you’re ready. There’s always so much to learn, but you’re always ready.
When I came back home from the workshop, armed with this advice and encouragement from my hero, I booked my first gig as a band-leader, playing my original music.
Every once in a while, maybe a couple times each year, I’ll have an email exchange with Frisell. It keeps me motivated in a way unlike anything else – just being a blip on his radar.
I know that if I go back to this workshop, it will be a totally different experience. But maybe next year.