Don’t Be A Classical Stiff, It’s All Jazz, Baby!

When I was 9 years old I started learning how to play the violin with the famous Suzuki Method. All violinists and other string players likely know and are familiar with this way of learning, roughly 10 books in the system to get you playing from beginner to advanced student. The only problem? You get trained as a “Classical Stiff”. You can read notes from a page, and you may be able to add in your own artistic interpretations, to put something technical off the edge and into some true artistry and beauty, but you won’t know a thing about how to improvise.

During college, I was faced with my inevitable lack of improvisation technique when I randomly spotted an opportunity to do a recording for a band and decided to try it. I went to their house/studio and was so nervous and on the spot, when they told me what key to play, I felt completely lost, unsure what to do. I listened to the song they wanted to add violin to and ending up playing just the melody. I got no value (read: money) out of the one time gig and eventually, they did send me their CD, but in retrospect, I have no idea why I even went. Maybe it was the challenge of trying something new! Even if I failed, you can hear the track of a violin playing over the exact melody an octave or two higher.

After college, I took “fiddle” lessons and learned folk and celtic tunes from a completely different method of listening by ear and playing back, like a game of Simon says. I slowly learned how to improv and loosen up a little to the thought of playing something completely on my own.

So what does this have to do with life and business, and all that jazz?

Life is an Improvisation

You can’t plan everything out just the way you want because not everything will go the way that you want it to and even if it did, there are still variables you can’t control like, for example, other people.

Try this. Instead of waiting for you to reach your own potential, as if it’s going to magically do so on its own, why not start creating it NOW? Life is happening NOW. Are you going to let those moments pass you by because of fear (like I did on that faithful day, choked by my inability to improv with violin, or afraid of sounding stupid) or start creating something beautiful?

What’s your super power? What’s your creative genius? How can you make that into your signature genius, one that you become known for, and that people flock to pay you?

Claim your genius. Own it. Express it. Let your greatness shine.

Like jazz, life is about melding the moments to create the best life now. There are no measures and notes to read, only what your mind can come up with. Will you create a masterpiece today and make your own music, or stop too soon, without the notes?

Life isn’t equipped with notes and a how-to manual. It’s all YOU. It’s now. It’s improv. It’s this moment. And the next. And the next. And the next. It’s all jazz, baby!

When you make a choice, you change the future. ~Deepak Chopra

Choose Your Genius

You have to get clear. You have to deliberately choose what you’d like to be known for. A vessel isn’t a complicated disarray of twists and turns and little crevices, it’s a straight pathway (i.e. a blood vessel) or a container. You are the container and the pathway. You are the vessel.

Ask yourself:
What do you want to be known for?
What #1 passion would you love to work on all day? How can this help people?
What legacy do you want to leave behind?
How can you inject more purpose to your brand? Something that can contribute to a bigger picture.
What goal(s) do you want to achieve?
What would your best lifestyle look like?

Your answers can help you discover and uncover what your true genius is and how you can consciously create your dream lifestyle and serve the world with your talents. Take the time to answer at least ONE question today and share them in the comments.

Invent. Then Reinvent.

Janet Brent

Janet is a graphic/web designer for indies in the holistic and creative arts. She is passionate about working with creative world changers and showing people how to march to their own beats. You can email her at to introduce yourself or work with her. If you enjoyed this, sign up for more updates. Twitter β€’ Facebook β€’ Google Plus

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  • Janet Brent (@JanetBrent)

    NEW at Purple Panda: Don’t Be A Classical Stiff, It’s All Jazz, Baby!

  • Benjamin

    Yo Janet… Sick metaphor.
    Here’s my legacy: I’d like to leave behind a legacy of a massive body of work based around the idea of helping Thoughtful people live better lives. I want 1000s of SICK videos to inspire thoughtful people for years to come… and this stereotype that shy, introverted people are weak or too sensitive to Ball Out Of Control will die… and more Thoughtful people will have an easier road to being their True Self

    • Janet

      nice! Love this! Especially being a shy kind of gal myself.. I used to be the kid hiding behind the couch during family gatherings so I wouldn’t get taped. Now I’m posting embarrassing videos on youtube! πŸ˜›

      I love how all of our missions are similar.. Inspiring people to be their true authentic self. Live a life on your terms, etc. But we all do it in our own unique ways and our own voice! Rock on!

  • Janet Brent (@JanetBrent)

    Don’t Be a Classical Stiff, It’s All Jazz, Baby!

  • Claire

    Good points.

    I also tried my hand at the violin when I was in my 20s (it was a childhood frustration), but after a few years, I stopped.

    Your question “What #1 passion would you love to work on all day?” is right on. Though I love the idea of me playing a perfect, soul-moving piece, I didn’t have enough passion to practice and practice and practice some more. It was the end result I was really after, not the process. And enjoying the process is so important when we’re talking about passion.

    Thankfully, I am now doing – and getting more clarified – on my writing passion. =)

    • Janet

      ah wow, didn’t know that. It definitely takes awhile to master and is not the easiest instrument to learn. I only went up to Suzuki book 4 or 5..

      Like you, my passion for playing music wasn’t as strong as other things, so I moved on to art and decided that’s what I was going to do. And then digital art / web design. I’m sure it will continue to evolve!

      Good luck on the clarity. It’s really half the battle!!

  • Janet Brent (@JanetBrent)

    Don’t Be a Classical Stiff, It’s All Jazz, Baby! // <—– Great for finding your purpose

  • Nica Mandigma | Virtual Assistant

    I feel like I’m on the first workshop of MAD OBS

    Tough questions: But I really want to be recognized as a World-Class virtual assistant who helped many Filipinos work as virtual assistants/online professionals. As far as injecting more purpose to my brand — I really feel that the words “To Serve” should be a guiding principle in my life and work because there’s really satisfaction in serving other people — clients, students, etc.

    • Janet

      hehehe I’m not sure if sounding like the OBS workshop was intentional. But I definitely took notes and put it in for blogspiration. πŸ˜‰ It’s just been a lot on my mind lately, obviously. Maybe partly because of the course too, but because I also want to get more into branding and see how I could become known as an ‘expert’.

      Not that I’m not. But you just have to build the case for it..

      Tough Qs, indeed, right?? I remember when I plugged/mentioned you on twitter with the delegate to elevate thing. She replied back and said “that is brilliant!” To Serve should definitely be in your website verbiage then.. sprinkled throughout your services, about, etc.

  • Nica Mandigma (@nicamandigma)

    Don’t Be A Classical Stiff, It’s All Jazz, Baby! | Purple Panda

  • David

    I hear you on the stiff bit. It’s tough to flex out a bit, but sometimes a beer or two can help lubricate the movements.

    As for the relation to the greater bits, it’s tougher. What do I want to be known for? What does get me excited and passionate? And something that won’t change right away? It’s tough. But worth the search.

    • Janet

      haha I’m laughing/smiling because you said lubricate the movements. πŸ˜€

      Definitely worth the search. Hope you uncover it. I don’t think it needs to be something that doesn’t change though. Purpose can evolve and change in time.. it’s whatever you want to be doing RIGHT now. Travel could be your purpose right now. Exploring the world and enriching yourself through culture. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something that serves others, I don’t think? Or something that turns a profit. Interesting to think about..

  • Jessica

    I had a similar experience with writing in school–it was so paint by numbers and I got really good at doing it “the right way.” When it came time to use writing to really express who I am and what I stand for, I floundered like crazy, wanting some sort of template to follow.

    As I’m learning to really sink into my own voice, things are definitely messier and I sometimes flail wildly, trying to communicate something without really knowing the words to use, but I’m finding my way, and (I think) reaching more people than I would by falling back on the old paint-by-numbers approach.

    Thanks for sharing this, Janet!

    • Janet

      oooh, great that you mention writing! I was just talking about this on another blog about purpose.. that I feel closer to my purpose and authentic self but still find it difficult to figure out my writing style and authentic voice!!

      It’s interesting how you say it’s the paint by numbers approach.. So true and great metaphor!

      So yes, I have a hard time finding my writing voice even on this blog.. The key, as in improv though, is always to “let go”.