Mistake-n Jazz

The following is a response I wrote about the clip above after a  discussion relating the content of the video to ministry in a second semester systematic theology at Huntington University.

First by showing a little what jazz and improvisation is and even the statement “I can’t tell you what this is called or even where it is going.” To me it seems that when people first enter into community with one another, none of them really know where the journey is going to take them. I am sure you feel the same way each fall before you begin the Systematic 1 class. One can’t know where the students will take the class or to what levels of intensity each class will reach. As one embarks on the journey of becoming a community that person is not sure what they will discover about the world around them. It may become something familiar like the original piece of music did, or it may become something totally original.

Second they dealt with how jazz musicians deal with mistakes that is truly unique to jazz. Jazz musicians listen to what the other players are doing and follow accordingly. When a mistake is made, the listener can hardly tell. Many times in jazz sheet music, the musician is only given the notes to be played without giving any sort rhythm that tie down other forms of classical music. Mistakes are taken as opportunities to change what is going on. Much like how theology works. When we hear something that doesn’t sound quite right, we can take that moment to listen to what the person is saying and either adjust what we are playing, our beliefs, or attempt to show the other person where they are not quite right.

When we do attempt to “correct” something that we see is not right in our eyes, we need to make sure that we are not forcing our beliefs upon someone. In the video you could tell that this kind of thinking limited what everyone else did when the leader made the music all about what he wanted to do and at the intensity that he wanted to make it. However when he tried to bring the intensity back to that level by listening to everyone else, I’m not sure he really made it back to the original intensity level. When we lead, we need to keep our own agenda out of it. It is good to have an agenda, but compromises may need to be made in order for the music to flow freely between others. Someone in class said that the leader of the band seemed to be the “bridge” between the other members of the band leading them and taking from everywhere to produce a really good piece that I believe satisfied everyone in the end.

I also want to take a look at the original piece for a moment. I noticed that the leader played the main theme several times before others started to play with the theme and thus starting the variances. I feel that this could be related to a leader coming to a group meeting and laying out the basis for what was going to happen. The group then enters into a time of brain storming to see how a certain problem or event could take shape. By the end of the piece everyone has had a say and it may look nothing like what the original did, but it is something that everyone can agree on and really enjoy working on and being a part of. Unlike jazz however, it may take several times of an event taking place for the group to reach the point where everyone is proud of what they are doing.

The original piece eventually had to end. Like all programs or things that the church does there comes a point where a certain program may no longer be effective and need to close. As the leader of the band said they ended up playing a piece that they knew. With many jazz pieces, there is a cue in one of the parts that signal that it’s time to end the piece. This allows for the audience to applaud and see the fruit of what the group is doing and allows for evaluation of the program to see if it was worthy of repeating.

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