I was thinking the other day about the most important activities for a developing jazz musician. I came up with a ranked list with jazz in mind, but it probably applies to any genre of music. My rankings are based on the imagined impact on my musicianship of removing each activity from my life.

Let me know below if you think I missed anything, or if you disagree with my rankings.

1. Experience
Go see live music! You could master everything else, but if you're not doing this, then you're missing something vital. This is the real experience. It is masters creating your chosen art form right before your eyes and ears. It is the most galvanizing thing you can do.

2. Listen
Familiarize yourself with the body of work you're trying to unlock. Listen to all the classic albums, everyone who ever influenced anyone you love, and push your ears to understand new sounds.

3. Interact
Share your development with other people. Jam at someone's house, perform, communicate. Embrace the social aspect of music.

4. Imitate
Transcribe ceaselessly. This is the best way to learn any technique. Learning how to play someone else's ideas helps you know how to play your own. Learning the reasons behind someone else's ideas helps you get the good ones into your head.

5. Create
Compose songs, melodies, licks, progressions. Improvise. Pursue what makes you unique. Build things with it.

6. Practice
This includes everything else: books, theory, rudiments, melodic/harmonic vocabulary, etc. Incidentally, most of my lifetime practice time has fallen in this final category. I'm a thinker. But now that I think about it, there are more important ingredients to my development.