Quincy Jones on Music – Just Start Playing

Most people who have achieved anything will tell you that greatness is just about getting started and plugging away. This interview segment from the Academy of Achievement with Quincy Jones is another testiment to that concept:

How did you learn to play in the first place?

Quincy Jones: “I just started playing. Just do it. Just blow in it and sound bad for about a year and then make it sound a little bit better, and you get a little band together, and then you get a few jobs. You take four guys that sound half bad, but if they’re 25 percent each, they can give 100 percent, you know? There were four guys, including Charlie Taylor and Buddy Catlett; we got together and we practiced every day.

I was writing this thing called “A Suite from the Four Winds,” and on the trumpet parts I put a little asterisk and said, “Play all B naturals a half step lower because it sounds funny if you play it B natural straight.” I didn’t know there was a key signature of a flat on the third line that would take care of all that. But, you know, you just learn step by step. Somebody finally said, “Idiot! You know there are key signatures. There’s one flat, two flats, three flats.” And, “Oh yeah, key signatures. That’s a great concept.” It’s 500 years old, right?”

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