Over his short life, Charlie Parker left an indelible mark on the genre of jazz. Parker’s musical genius changed both the performers’ approaches to, and the audiences’ expectations of the music.
Parker was frequently interviewed, and a surprising number of quotes have been attributed to him. This one in particular, I think is a valuable message for any students we might have. (And perhaps for ourselves as well.)
You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.
In this video of The Charlie Parker Quintet performing Donna Lee, you can see how Parker had his own message internalized.
There is no doubt about it, it takes an incredible amount of dedication, time, and yes, talent, to be able to pull this off. No, most of us will never play like Charlie Parker.
However, Parker’s message was a simple one: If we apply ourselves through practice, we will in time no longer have to think about what we’re doing. It will just come automatically. This is true no matter what we’re practicing, or what level we’re at.