Ed Wilson: Lessons from Glenn Miller

I just finished reading an old book I found at our public library: “Glenn Miller and His Orchestra” by George T. Simon. It was an excellent read … although it did not have a happy ending (he died in a plane crash on his way to Paris). Glenn Miller was born into a poor family but at an early age he developed an insatiable desire to succeed. He became extremely competitive and simply had to be the best at everything he did—whether it was playing baseball, or learning to play the violin he never settled for second place.

The interesting thing about his story, is that Glenn Miller was not a particularly talented musician, he was merely adequate. But he made up for his lack of ability with drive, determination, and refusal to settle for mediocrity. In the end, he invented what has become known as the “Glen Miller Sound” in which the melody of a song is repeated through the use of a special combination of woodwinds.

Glenn Miller's lasting contribution came through his orchestra, and his unique arrangements of songs.  Because of his drive and determination he was the consummate organizer. His rehearsals were prodigious, but the Glenn Miller Orchestra evolved into a well oiled machine that was able to enter a recording studio in the morning, and depart in the afternoon having completed 8 successful takes. Contrast this with the months of studio time it takes the average rock band  of today.

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