This post was inspired by the following from Bob Lefsetz

1. Listen to a lot of records. A knowledge of music is the best education. Spend more time listening than posting on Facebook. The musicians of yore could play every lick on their favorite blues records, can you?

There are a million more jewel’s in Bob’s recent letter entitled “New Rules” but I wanted to focus in on that particular statement for the purposes of this post.

Last evening we posted a ton of D’Angelo covers on the FB page. It’s pretty evident that D’Angelo and all of his musical collaborators did their homework. I know I’m preaching to the choir here when I say this, but homework takes time. Lots and lots of time. At times you may become frustrated and feel like you are not able to complete the assignment. Sometimes it’s good to at that point just walk away and come back to the problem another day. Other times it just clicks.

I think what I am describing here the great ones have and will continue to wrestle with. It’s the concept that Clark Terry so eloquently laid out which is that in the development of true musicianship there are three stages: Imitation, Assimilation and Innovation.

So when the question is asked “Did you do your homework?” it really doesn’t have to be asked because it will show in the end product. Every great artist you know, knows hundreds of cover tunes note for note, lick for lick that’s what they practiced on while they were finding their own voice. They had their key influencers that are undeniable, yet they developed to the point that they have their own distinct voice as well. It’s not glamorous, but it’s oh so necessary because in the end those who complete their homework go to the head of the class.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.