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Herbie Hancock’s MasterClass: Speak Like a Guru

In his MasterClass tutorial series, Herbie Hancock offers lessons of the human spirit

Herbie Hancock - photo c/o MasterClass
Herbie Hancock (photo c/o MasterClass)

Among the topics that Herbie Hancock promises to cover in the intro to his MasterClass series is “one’s own ability to develop one’s own sound.” Though there are plenty of vital tips and techniques to be found in the 25-lesson online video tutorial, don’t expect the iconic pianist-composer to hand you your voice.

“That can’t be taught,” Hancock, 77, admitted over the phone from his hotel room in Norway. “You have to do that. You don’t get that from somebody else. But it can be encouraged, and what can be taught, perhaps, are pitfalls that pull you away from finding your own voice. Most of us learn in the beginning by being a copycat. But if you stay there and only become good at copying somebody else, you’re not really finding answers for why you exist. Every person is unique, and if you’re really serious about music and you don’t find your own way of expression, then you’ve failed in defining who you are.”

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Originally Published

Shaun Brady

Shaun Brady is a Philadelphia-based journalist who covers jazz along with an eclectic array of arts, culture, and travel. Brady contributes regularly to the Philadelphia Inquirer and JazzTimes and Jazziz magazines, with subjects ranging from legendary artists to underground experimentalists. His byline has appeared in DownBeat, Metro, NPR Music, and The A.V. Club, among other outlets. He studied filmmaking at Columbia College Chicago and continues to spend too much time in the dark.