Mentoring – Passing On the Lessons of Music

Listening to the CD Last Train Home, a collection of duets by jazz guitarists Davy Mooney and John Pizzarelli, I’m struck once again by the unselfish manner in which musicians share their talents and knowledge of music with younger generations. Pizzarelli is more than 20 years older than Mooney, and the two actually met when Mooney entered a jazz guitar competition in which Pizzarelli was a judge.

With more than 40 feature albums and 140 as a contributor, Pizzarelli’s resume is impressive. It speaks volumes of the selflessness of Pizzarelli that he would lend his talents to this project with an “up and comer” such as Mooney, though I don’t want to suggest that Mooney’s talents are anything less than exceptional. It’s simply not something you’d always expect of a tenured professional – yet in music it happens all of the time.

Musicians are outstanding when it comes to sharing their expertise and grooming young talent. Ellis Marsalis, the father of the renowned jazz musicians and a great jazz pianist himself routinely allows young jazz artists to sit in with him during his regular Friday night gig and nurture their skills. I see and hear it all of the time with regard to the musicians I’ve met, followed, spoken to, and interviewed throughout my career.

Other professions should take note. In corporate settings and in other professions, it’s not always a given that talented tenured employees will openly share their knowledge and expertise. It’s generally a matter of fear and insecurity, yet it’s the greatest way to accelerate productivity.

They could learn a lesson from the music world.

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