Dear New Orleans, Meet Tibet.

“Without depending on tradition, we cannot do anything. So until we become enlightened, we cannot reject faith that depends on tradition. In order to communicate, it is always necessary to deal with…tradition. But if we rely on it with rigid attachment, then through our clinging we are trapped by tradition”. – Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

Until we are master musicians: masters of our own instrument(s), a particular style or era, a musical culture – we have no skill – we cannot do anything. Until we become musical masters, we can’t reject tradition – and we can’t branch away from it. It’s our starting point. We’re musical seeds, watered by tradition, sprouting, growing – shined down upon by the musicians we revere until we reach our potential. And yet (as in New Orleans), “if we rely it with rigid attachment, then through our clinging we are trapped by our tradition”.

That’s the distinction between those who thrive and stay, and those who thrive and climb out.

Tibetan Buddhism has a patent structure from beginning to end. They have a map – they don’t get lost. Musically, so many young musicians are lost. It’s why I believe so strongly in Irvin Mayfields’ current undertaking – his road to Carnegie Hall tour. Although as with every Mayfield project this one has an array of agendas, one involves creating a patent structure from beginning to end. It involves a flow chart of how young musicians can perform their way out of the tradition while still revering it: a step by step guide from point A of picking up that horn for the first time to stepping on stage at Carnegie. The idea, of course, isn’t that every young musician can follow the path. The idea is to show them that aforementioned distinction: simply that they have the choice, and the power to make it happen.

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One comment

  1. I’m tempted to copy the first two paragraphs and post them at my workdesk. (Surely you wouldn’t mind?) In terms of scholarship, wisdom, and personal instinct, it’s been a long time since I’ve read something that resonated so deeply with me.

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