In my conversation with jazz violinist, Zach Brock, we talk about his musical upbringing and how he straddles the line between classical training and improvisation, why vulnerability is the most important ingredient to being a great performing and why ‘play’, ‘being silly’, and ‘feeling joy’ in practicing is worthwhile.
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Learn more about the stuff we talk about in this episode here:
What it means to take risks and be vulnerable.
How Zach and I met at Mike Block String Camp and what how challenging and vulnerable that was for me.
How some classical musicians embody a sort of cultural musical superiority complex and how some can experience that as social violence.
How some people are socially and economically blocked from access to the upper echelons of classical music.
How it seemed like I was having a great time at Mike Block’s camp but was having “the worst time” because I was uncomfortable and being stretched creatively.
Why vulnerability is the most important thing PERIOD if you’re going to be a performing artist.
Why people want to see performers being open and vulnerable.
How vulnerability is a way to show that you don’t care what people think or say about you.
How vulnerability empowers the performer.
How the vulnerable performer gives permission to others to aspire to greatness because “this is in you, too.”
Jeff Buckley singing Dido’s Lament
How vulnerability amplifies our humanity.
Stuff Smith and Stephane Grapelli
How we can become more open-minded as we grow older and why we are necessarily more judgemental when we are aquiring information.
“Arts” versus “Crafts”: When are you being an “artist” and when are you being a “craftsperson” and why we need to be both.
Kid Logic: This American Life
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
How classical musicians can practice improvisation.
How improvisation connects you more immediately to your instrument and musical voice.
Facing the void when you first start improvising and why we need to wait and listen and allow for nothing to come back.
How improvising enables us to make musical choices with more authority.
Why you can’t think you’re a “schmuck” if your first improv attempts don’t sound like a “double fugue by Bach.”
Why being an improvisor is not profound.
Why we should trust our internal musical voice and trust that is it there.
Why the concept of “play” needs to come back into our own playing and how improvisation can do that for us.
Why enjoyment, experimentation, being silly and feeling joy in playing the violin is worthwhile.
The importance of finding creative partners.
How institutions are always the last to evolve and why we have to fight for change from the bottom up.
Noa Kageyama and Bulletproof Musician
Why we shouldn’t “give up and float just because we think it’s too late.”
The mental game of performing: why he thinks performers need to get serious about meditation.
How improvisation lights up different parts of our brains than classical playing.
The importance of mastering our minds.