Monday, December 24, 2007

Life Lessons from Oscar Peterson: Tribute to a Jazz Man

Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, age 82, recently passed away and the details of his life offer many valuable lessons about growth, success and development.

Here's what I learned from reading about Oscar Peterson:

Humility counts: Despite his development into a world-class pianist, with "rapid-fast" keyboard hands, Peterson remained very modest, according to those who knew him best:

"He was very shy, very down to earth. You didn't know you were with a world musician by any means," said Hazel McCallion, a friend and the mayor of Mississauga, Ontario, a Toronto suburb where Peterson lived.

Other lessons that apply to finance, career development and personal growth:

  • Get an early start: Peterson learned the piano as a child. His older sister--Daisy-- provided early lessons. By the age of 14, he started to perform on the radio.

  • Set high standards: Reportedly, his father issued a challenge. His father's words: "You have to be the best, there is no second best." Oscar Peterson lived by that advice.
  • Maintain discipline: Peterson maintained a demanding traveling and recording tour schedule. He played with some of the top musicians in the industry.

  • Rebound from difficulties: Even after suffering a stroke during the 1990s, Peterson continued to perform. Despite his initial handicap, he continued to excel as a pianist: "Even with a weak left hand, critics said he outshone many pianists with two good ones," according to the Reuters report.

  • Keep the Faith: "When I started I had great belief, and there were quite a few bruises and disappointments along the way, but I never lost the belief," according to a quote from Reuters published in 1999.

  • Develop technical expertise. Peterson's technical mastery of the piano is legendary. He believed in developing a "musical vocabulary" through constant practice: "You learn to play the instrument so you have a musical vocabulary, and you practice to get your technique to the point you need to express yourself."

  • Give back to the community: Peterson was involved in many social causes and worked hard to get minorities better represented in Canadian advertisements.
This post is based on details from the article: Jazz piano legend Oscar Peterson dead at 82 from Reuters. Additional reading: Oscar Peterson, Virtuoso of Jazz, Dies at 82

Sharon Harvey Rosenberg is the author of The Frugal Duchess of South Beach:How to Live Well and Save Money... Anywhere!, which will be published in May of 2008 by DPL Press.
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1 comment:

Haydn Huckle said...

The world has lost the greatest jazz pianist of all time.
Haydn Huckle