I’ve lived in Brazil now for 5 years. When I came here I spoke virtually no Portuguese whatsoever. Hello, please and thank you was about it. Obviously to make my self understood I had to learn, very quickly. After a year or so I could hold a conversation quite well and although my vocabulary wasn’t huge I could get across what I wanted to say. Now, I’m pretty much fluent. I have a slight accent and occasionally I might say something very correct but not how locals would say it. Interestingly, as I mostly speak Portuguese these days, my English isn’t what it used to be. How silly I hear you cry, but it’s true. I just don’t use it as much and make silly little mistakes in grammar or end up using simpler words. But the fact is, having lived within the Brazilian language and culture, I now speak and behave, in both countries and languages, with much more passion than ever before. I’ve experienced much more than I had previously, so I look at things differently: I approach situations and problems with another viewpoint. I may not speak the English language as perfectly as I did, but I get my message across far clearer than I used to.
Can you see the analogy to jazz?
You may speak fluently in one language of jazz, but imagine if you travel a bit outside your world? Learned different languages and cultures, old and new. When you come back to your original home, you will, hopefully, have changed and grown. Maybe you won’t speak perfectly within your first language, maybe you’ll sound a bit foreign now and again. But I guarantee that you’ll get your message across clearer than ever before. And isn’t that all we’re trying to do? To get our stories heard and be understood?