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WYNTON MARSALIS: SOMEONE TO PLAY WITH


People are preoccupied with their own thoughts and interests. When we show interest and concern for another person’s interest or concern, it meets a deep need. People feel cared for and valued.


Wynton Marsalis is a recognized musician. He is invited to teach master classes. He goes from high school bands to the most prestigious music conservatories. The band sets up and he tells them to play something. He doesn’t say anything; he just listens. Typically, they will play a song that is four to five minutes long, but everybody solos too long and the song becomes eight to ten minutes. When they are through, he asks anybody to tell him what the first or second soloist played. One hundred percent of the time they cannot tell him, not 99.9% of the time but one hundred percent of the time! In 15 years no one has ever been able to tell him what the first or second soloist played.


So he asks them what they were doing? Were they interested in what this person was playing? Were they playing anything related to what this person was playing? Then he drives home the lesson that the choices they make in the band are the same choices they will make in society. You can be the greatest soloist in the world, but if you don’t have anybody to play with, you’re not going to sound good.


(National Club Luncheon, 11-21-95. From a sermon by Ed Sasnett, Friends, 8/11/2011)

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