Thanks Bo Adams for Tweeting me a link to the Harvard Business Review Idea Cast interview with management professor and jazz musician Frank Barrett, talking about his book “Yes to the Mess”. It is a great 20-minute piece and I encourage you to listen to it. I won’t repeat all of his wonderful images and metaphors about playing jazz that resonate with us as leaders and as educators, but here are a few ideas and questions that burst to mind when, once again ,I think about jazz and the learning experience:
- As a leader, do you want to lead a marching band, direct a concert orchestra, or play with a bunch of accomplished jazz musicians? What different goals, experiences, and processes!
- Jazz is messy, never the same tune twice, each time an original experience. Shouldn’t this be the goal of a teacher, even if she or he has taught the same subject for 25 years?
- The world is messy and unscripted. Why do we teach metaphorical marches when the world is vastly more attuned to the skills of jazz.
- Jazz, blues, and rock all rely on syncopation, that offbeat or missed beat that our mind expects to hear in standard 2/4 or 4/4 time. In creating that missed beat, is not the composer or musician leaving a short gap that we, the listener, fill? Is this not the creative gap that we seek to fill with experiential learning?
- Rhythm and key often changes during jazz pieces. The world does not keep a steady beat; neither do our students. Should we not attune our learning to this reality, changing rhythm and key as needed to more accurately reflect our world and the need of the individual student?
- Leading in a jazz environment is Management 2.0: distributed leaders all exploring, designing, and creating aligned with an overall theme, but not constrained by the fear of missing a note, reprisal from the boss, or failing to deliver a predetermined note in time and space.
This seems so closely aligned with the post and discussion I kicked off with the concept of rhythm and frequency the other day. Plenty more, but this is where I hand off the lead to you, to learn, follow, and collaborate…!