It began on a note of reticence. Yet it turned out to be an
unforgettable experience, one that answered a question I’ve always
wanted to ask.
After no less than a long challenging day, I frankly didn’t wish to
attend that guitar concert in LA, but my colleague insisted. Knowing
my interest in music, she suggested this would be one of those
“life-changing events.” “There is someone you just have to meet,” she
Despite the fact that I’m not what anyone would consider a “night”
person, I finally gave in. I’d soon be asleep anyway on a flight back
to Pennsylvania early the next morning.
By the time we arrived at the Beverly Wilshire, the concert was well
underway, the room was packed and the crowd was immersed in music.
Frankly I didn’t know what to expect, yet I was pleasantly surprised.
Each soloist demonstrated incredible brilliance through personal
styles ranging from jazz to classical. Their performances were
uniquely extraordinary, revealing technical proficiency that was
nothing short of astounding. The concert was far more than I
anticipated. I didn’t realize that before me were some of the
greatest guitarists in the world, individuals who have been revered by
those in the know.
Then the stage dimmed and a young man with a gentle smile sat before
us. The crowd immediately settled into eerie silence. They knew what
was coming. I didn’t.
He closed his eyes and began to caress and stroke an electric guitar
that seemed part of him. Gradually his expression built and exploded
with such extraordinary depth, dexterity and speed that one could not
follow his fingers which danced next to each other as a continuous
blur on the neck of his guitar. Each hand seemed to be executing a
separate and magnificent theme as the vibrations that emanated from
him through his instrument mesmerized everyone. The audience which
included many accomplished and well-known musicians were literally
dazed by a performance that was inexplicable on many levels – it
exceeded all expectations of human capability. The intense applause
and standing ovation brought images to mind of Mozart, Tchaikovsky,
Bernstein and Perlman screaming “Bravo” beside me.
Soon it was 2:00 am, the crowd had dissipated and the three of us sat
together in a corner of the hotel lounge. My body was exhausted, yet
my mind was racing. This young virtuoso was delighted to share some
heartfelt insights with us. Better yet, he was willing to answer the
question I’d always wanted to ask.
Having been brought up with music, I recognize different degrees of
proficiency. There are a few individuals who excel to such a degree
that music seems to flow from them or actually through them on an
ethereal level. This was my chance to speak with one such person.
My question was simple. Given the physical limitations of conscious
control and dexterity, how is it possible to make your extraordinary
He smiled a boyish grin and began to speak with a radiance and a
knowing that seemed to delight in the question itself. He proceeded
to explain one essential factor, the successful achievement of a state
of mind that would allow the music to flow from a person and an
instrument that had to become one.
He explained that his practice sessions begin by finding a comfortable
position, closing his eyes and meditating. He then listens to music
in his mind’s ear, and when it feels right, he draws the guitar toward
him into his space. If this happens prematurely, and it doesn’t feel
right, the guitar is gently moved away. In a similar stepwise
fashion, he touches it, caresses it’s form and hears the strings
vibrate before they are played. The young man progressively moves
back and forth through each successive step until the instrument
becomes an extension of his body, mind and spirit. Often 20-30
minutes is spent imagining, listening and feeling before the first
actual sound is played.
Once this stage is complete, he visualizes each hand in a different
way. One might be playing colors, another notes. Both are under
simultaneous, yet separate control. In fact, each finger is playing a
separate melody on each string! How does he keep track of the
sequences? Frankly, it just happens when his state of mind allows the
music to flow.
Actually, his complex execution is not altogether surprising once you
get to know him. This Princeton graduate is also an accomplished
computer programmer with a fascination for high level logic and
mathematics. Music is simply an extension of all that makes sense
In the wee hours of the morning when I caught a cab back to my hotel,
I couldn’t stop thinking about the man, his music and his embodiment
of harmony in mind, body and spirit. Yet most of all, I was
captivated by his gentle manner and his dedication to mankind. It
didn’t surprise me when he revealed his next musical endeavor.
Stanley Jordan is setting his sights on another path. He’s becoming a
One can only imagine the impact of sharing his gift with children –
inspiring them to allow the Light and the music to be revealed –
Mind Over Matter!
For more information about Stanley Jordan and his music, please check:
MD all rights reserved
Barry Bittman, MD is a neurologist, author, international speaker, inventor and researcher. He is the CEO and Director of the Mind-Body Wellness Center, 18201 Conneaut Lake Road in Meadville, phone (814) 724-1765, fax (814) 333-8662, www.mind-body.org.