No Wrong Notes

By Jeremy D. Morse, CEO, MHA of the Palm Beaches

When a young Miles Davis studied classical music at Julliard, he would visit the New York City jazz clubs at night and sit in with working musicians. At first, he found it difficult to improvise. Miles was accustomed to classical music’s highly structured and programmed forms, so he constantly worried about playing wrong notes. Finally, a seasoned professional explained to him that, in jazz, there’s no such thing as a wrong note.

In the classical genre, the music exists as a finished product created by its composer, and musicians play their parts as written.

In jazz, the musician becomes the composer.

When jazz players improvise, they interpret the music’s structures, reshape them, and create new ones together; any note played in jazz is the right one. Whether the musician intends to play inside the given content or go outside is a creative choice. Good jazz musicians know how to do both at the same time.

In jazz, so-called “wrong notes” transform what is given and lead the musicians and audiences to new experiences.

Supportive communities are like good jazz; everyone has something to contribute. Jazz improvisation can show us how to accept and work within limits and welcome different perspectives. Our community members at MHA bring alternative voices to the conversation. These voices deserve to be heard, and if we listen, they may lead us all to something new.

Jazz with Jeremy at Fern Street Clubhouse