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Stanley Jordan Interview With Gabrielle Reilly 

Typically I start my interview with a paragraph introducing my guest.   However, since there is no way to accurately describe the genius and the connection to divinity when Stanley Jordan plays, I've included footage of Stanley playing for you to experience for yourself...  before you go on to read about Stanley's soulful musical and life insights in our interview together.  If you listen to Stanley's music first, his words may form a more magnificent vibration that resonates in your soul and inspires your being.

Gabrielle Reilly:  Do you have any advice for people with a dream in their heart?

Stanley Jordan:  The heart energy provides the passion and the drive to achieve an ultimate goal. The body energy provides the ability to actually manifest, to bring into being that which your heart desires. The mind energy is the organizing principle through which your action in the world can be targeted to achieve the desired result. All these energies are important, but notice that it begins with, and is given meaning by, the energy of the heart. That's why I chose to emphasize the heart energy on my album "State of Nature" I felt the message would be most effective that way.


Gabrielle Reilly:  Are you as excited to play today as you were 20 years ago?


Stanley Jordan:  Yes, in fact it's even better now. I still have all the excitement but without most of the frustration of trying too hard. I've learned that when I take some of the pressure off, I learn more, I progress farther. I've learned to save my emotions for the music itself, rather than getting sidetracked into the ego drama of worrying about how well I'm doing (well, let's say I'm 90% there!).




Gabrielle Reilly:  What is music therapy and where/how is it used?

Stanley Jordan:  Music therapy is a way of using music to achieve health outcomes.

Usually it involves making music, but it may involve simply listening.

There is also a therapeutic relationship in which the trained therapist guides the interaction and chooses the activities so as to maximize the benefits of the music for the patient. Musical activities can help the body in many ways. Music can help people to process their emotions, it can be a good organizer for people with cognitive deficits, and it can help with spiritual issues such as addictions.


Gabrielle Reilly:  What has been your favorite career highlight?

Stanley Jordan:  One recent experience that was very rewarding: This past summer I played for the first time in Armenia, sponsored by the US Embassy. At the end of the show I thanked the Embassy and the audience erupted in applause. That felt really good!


Gabrielle Reilly:  At what age did you start playing & how much did you practice?

Stanley Jordan:  I started playing piano and composing around age 5. I started taking piano lessons at age 7, and I started guitar at 11. It's hard to measure practice time in hours because it was my supreme passion and I was involved in music one way or another 24-7. During high school I started practicing in a more organized fashion for about 5 hours/day. I made a lot of advances during that time.


Gabrielle Reilly:  Did your parents make you practice or did you consistently want to?

Stanley Jordan:  I always loved to play, but I didn't always want to stick to my lessons.  Sometimes my Mom had to remind me to get back to it.  These days, when I need to prepare for a gig or a studio session, I can still hear her voice gently reminding me to focus.


Gabrielle Reilly:  What teaching method did you grow up with (Suzuki, Alfred Bastian etc)?

Stanley Jordan:  My first lessons were a standard graded method approach on piano.

On guitar, I had two jazz teachers, one who gave a more structured approach and the other who was more of a playing partner who taught me things so I could keep up with him. I got the most practical knowledge from this informal approach.

The Classical world has a rich and well-entrenched pedagogical system but for jazz, which is newer, the methods are still being refined.  When I teach, I use a whole spectrum of approaches from structured to free form, depending on the needs and goals of the student. I feel that the full-spectrum approach is the key to mastering jazz.


Gabrielle Reilly:  What advice would you give parents who are trying to encourage children to play music?

Stanley Jordan:  The most important thing is to cultivate their love of music.

Discipline is important too, but they have to know why they're practicing.

For practicing the best approach would be to insist on at least 1/2 hour/day. But that can be difficult in today's complex world. If they can't stick with that, at least encourage them to practice every day, even if the lesson is sometimes shorter.

I like to start with fun stuff, especially with the younger kids, to cultivate their motivation. I also try to cultivate their creativity through improvisation. Kids have no fear of spontaneity, but adults may have more barriers.


Gabrielle Reilly:  What part of your job do you love the most?

Stanley Jordan:  I like to joy of being caught up in the musical inspiration of the moment. After all the hassles of traveling, setting up, etc. those transcendent moments make it all worthwhile.


Gabrielle Reilly:  You have an incredibly unique way of playing. How did you evolve into playing two guitars and your two handed tapping method?

Stanley Jordan:  I started out on piano. After taking up the guitar I think I was still influenced by piano. I like the expressive possibilities of the guitar and the "orchestral" possibilities of the piano. The two-hand "touch technique" that I use now on guitar is an attempt to combine the two.

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