Better…Stronger…Faster

May 3, 2007

A recent show on the ESPN television network featured a roundtable discussion with several famous veteran football players from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.The conversation focused, among other topics, on the use of weights and training, and whether their widespread use made the players of today better than the players of yesteryear.One of the older players stated he simply did not believe that lifting weights and training made you a better football player.However, one of the younger vets suggested that, although you may not be a better football player mentally, it is very likely you would be a faster and stronger athlete with the use of weights and training and, therefore, a better player, overall. Could the same analogy be made regarding the use of technology in the field of music?Are we producing better jazz musicians today due to their access to technology products, including tuning, recording, and accompaniment devices, along with scoring, arranging, testing, and other software?

This question poses some thought-provoking ideas.With accompaniment software readily available, the young musician has access to accompaniment which was simply not as easily accessible or usable in the more primitive form of LPs or cassettes.Additionally, a student can now tune his or her instruments electronically, compose and arrange music on a laptop computer, take instrumental lessons online, upload videos of their performances to YouTube, and even record practice sessions in pristine digital sound – all with equipment that is widely accessible and fairly reasonable in cost.Simply having access to this equipment has tremendous benefits.Compared to the technology of a mere 20 years ago, rather than hearing themselves on a wobbly-sounding cassette recorder, a student can adjust their playing by hearing a more truthful rendering of their sound and playing on a handheld digital recorder.They can understand how to tune their instrument more effectively and train their ear to listen more carefully, and learn to solo with an ensemble – in the privacy of their living room.

Having the proper equipment for learning and performing should become a part of every student musician’s toolkit, just as athletes use the latest advances in exercise equipment to tone and strengthen their muscles.Though the latest technology may not make the jazz student a better player, if used properly, it certainly could help them reach their full potential more quickly and efficiently.

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