Pianist Aaron Goldberg ’91 was a Gold Fund Visiting Artist
The difference between a good jazz musician and a great one comes down to one thing, award-winning jazz pianist AARON GOLDBERG ’91 told students: “It’s the ability to play and listen at the same time at a really high level.
“It’s an experience you can only have by playing with other people,” he said during a webinar supported by the Melissa Dilworth Gold Visiting Artists fund. “The best jazz musicians can hear everything that’s going on around them and react and interact in the moment. The most important thing you can do to develop that skill is to play with your friends and concentrate more on what they’re doing than what you’re doing.”
Goldberg fell in love with jazz as a Milton freshman. As a classically trained pianist, he had never explored improvisation before he enrolled in Music Department faculty member Bob Sinicrope’s jazz class. The summer “reading” was an introductory cassette of jazz, which Goldberg listened to incessantly.
“I never imagined when I started at Milton that I would become a professional musician,” he said. “As far as I was concerned, I was more interest- ed in sports than music; playing piano was just one of the things I did. Mr. Sinicrope’s first-year jazz class changed my life.”
Learning to listen to jazz was like learning language as a baby, Goldberg said. “It was all that listening that actually turned me into a jazz musician without realizing I was becoming a jazz musician. By falling in love with jazz and listening to it over and over again, I was learn- ing this new language by ear.”
Following his talk, which he opened by playing the John Coltrane ballad “Lonnie’s Lament” live, Goldberg answered questions from students about developing a style, improvising melodies, his path to becoming a professional musician, and why he still pushes himself.
The MELISSA DILWORTH GOLD ’61 Visiting Artists Fund was established in 1992 to support the arts department bringing a nationally recognized artist to the campus each year.