Random Links 207

Improvise like a Jazz Musician

I’ll pick four which jump at me …

…You don’t play alone: Too many people think about the great Jazz geniuses as exemplars of individualism: free minds striving for greatness. Here’s what Mingus would do when a soloist thought too highly of his own genius — he’d direct the band to stop playing, leaving the soloist hanging without any backup, looking like a fool. Improvisation is as much about the relationships between people as it is about our own self-expression; work with the input of those around you instead of trying to stand out against it.

Learn the rules so you can break them: It’s hard to explain what the difference between someone who doesn’t know the rules and someone who knows them and breaks them is — but we know it when we hear (or see) it.  Mingus learned to play in the highly structured environment of a classical ensemble; later, he studied the big band compositions of Duke Ellington.  There’s nothing sloppy or naive about his compositions, even when they break all the rules — Mingus knew the rules well enough to know why they had to be broken.

Use common structures in creative ways: Some of the best Jazz is based on popular music (e.g. Coltrane’s “Favorite Things”), folk tunes, and blues songs.  These common structures give musicians an “anchor” that imposes limits to work against (see above) but also gives them a set of stock material to throw in when they run out of ideas and need to figure out what to do next. If you ever get a chance to witness a real jam session, you’ll hear snatches of dozens of popular songs that musicians rely on to express certain ideas, give themselves time to think, and even get a laugh.  Don’t be afraid to throw in a cliche or borrow someone else’s phrase when you’re improvising — you might breathe new life into it and find yourself changing it into something else entirely.

When you make a mistake, keep playing: It’s not the mistakes that matter, it’s what you make out of them. It may well turn out that your “mistake” takes you in a whole new — and better — direction.”

 20 Questions to Help You Reflect the Past Year

I’ll give it a try and see what I get … 🙂 I think very often while we seek to dig into more in depth reflective questions, it’s easy to forget the simple ones!

 14 Tips For Resolutions That Stick in the New Year

I know I’m on a more “self-help” mode with these links … but then, there is some good common sense here 🙂

New Year, New You: How to Travel the World with (or without) Kids in 2008

My favorite phrase in one scan …

“If the thought of going from Nintendo to no Nintendo sends you into a panic attack, consider for a moment what kids actually need to be fulfilled and happy.

Although it may not be easy to believe, particularly with teenagers, your kids really want you. What they lose in DVD releases on sabbatical, they make up for with pure, unfettered time with you. Your time away can easily create and strengthen bonds with your children that will last a lifetime—all it takes is a little time.”

10 Questions to Ask Yourself to Regain Your Work-Life Balance

Let’s start with the symptoms …

You know you’re out of balance when…

  1. Your mail sits unopened for a week and you pay your bills late
  2. You think that the more plates you can spin, the more you can have it all
  3. You keep declining invitations with friends
  4. You can’t remember the last time you talked with your brother
  5. You forget appointments and blow off commitments (like working out, eating healthy)
  6. You stop writing your task lists for the week and fly by the seat of your pants
  7. You haven’t synched your PDA in weeks
  8. You don’t care if you’re not on track with your plan
  9. You can’t remember what’s in your plan
  10. You don’t answer your phone or you’re always on the phone”

Parents = Role Models

I’m quite excited to explore Faith Stepping Stones for BLC in 2008.

SimpleCarols Chord Charts & SimpleCarols On YouTube.

I’m keeping these for next year … 🙂 Thanks Dan!

Faith and Politics

a little bit of spice  to add flavor to this tame random links series!

Top 10 Posts of 2007

I’ve always had difficulty finding my own top 10, but reading what others list out is fun…

 What is a fundamentalist?

Interesting how I’m re-looking at this as well.

Top Ten signs you are a fundamentalist Christian

I wonder what would be the top 10 signs for a fundamentalist secularist, or Buddhist, or businessman, or capitalist, or  … fill in the blanks! 🙂


food for lunch?

“When we are certain we don’t feel the need to pay attention. Given that the world around us is always in flux, our certainty is an illusion.”

About Sivin Kit

man of one wife, father of four kids
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