How to Collaborate – Lessons From Jazz – Lesson #3 : Make Room

This is the third of a series of new posts that explain how you can apply the lessons of jazz to collaborate successfully.

Make Room

“Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.”
Chick Corea

Screen shot 2014-08-12 at 10.19.41 PM
Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke

A collaboration is a set of relationships and as in any relationship both parties need space.

When any one individual takes up too much space it squeezes out the others, ruining the collaboration.

In jazz, playing too much is considered a very immature state of musical development. It’s the type of thing that often happens when inexperienced players get together to jam. They play too long, too much or too loud. “Noodling” is what musicians call it.

How do you know if you’re talking too much? If you’re not doing a lot more listening than talking, then you are definitely talking too much. And if you always insist on doing things your way then you are probably ruining the collaboration.


When collaborating, make a conscious effort to make room for others. Not only by not saying too much, but by asking others for their opinions, listening to their suggestions, and exploring their ideas.



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