A Gypsy Jazz Conversation With Myself: The Interview

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Who is Nuno Marinho, after all? Nuno is a guitarist, composer, Portuguese Gypsy Jazz promoter, researcher, journalist, pedagogue, NBA-Chess-Cosmos lover… and Peaceful Warrior.

My new mantra is: I just want you to be happy 🙂

I can only hope the effort I’ve invested in world-class contents may bring you joy and fulfillment. Thank you for your support, appreciation and respect.

1 – What have inspired you to start playing music? Tell us about your influences and what was going on around you at the time.

I started listening to my older sister’s cassettes. Back then Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana and Metallica really made an impact on me, especially Slash’s ability to make the guitar sing so strongly.

It was the 90’s, the world was a different place, an era of social mutation, people were affirming their rights, their feelings, their wants and needs. We were heading towards the Technological Era. Music books were rare so we needed to search and share them and the closest we could get to a guitar was by looking at them on the only local store in town.

Looking back at my teens the Rock and Roll lifestyle and what it represented – the Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll thing – mixed with Mr. Miyagi’s Karate Masterful teachings and the possibility of time travelling in a DeLorean at 88 miles per hour completely sparkled my imagination.

I started playing with my left hand broken. I was at a friend’s house and I still had the casket on my arm. I had the opportunity to pick it up and a few months later, when I turned 14 years old, my mom bought me a Classical Guitar.

Right away I felt this was going to be a lifetime experience.

www.nunomarinho.bandcamp.com

2 – What motivated you to keep practicing?

My practice days only started in 2006 when I moved from Coimbra to Lisbon. I was 25 years old and a graduated lawyer with a very promising criminal carer ahead of me.

My main motivation was to be a better musician, to understand music, to study harmony and to meet people and form bands. I always had the tendency to write songs. It came natural to me. Also teaching was something I really liked so it all made sense.

I felt there could be so many possibilities to play music that I just needed to understand them all. That’s my biggest motivation: to accomplish musical mastery.

3 – What were the biggest challenges you have faced in order to progress in your practice, performance and musical career?

Prejudice, misunderstandings, impairments, apathy and incompetence in the music business were (still are) very hard for me to handle. I used to think I didn’t quit my stable life as an attorney for “this”.

It’s hard to feel the pressure to catch up the lost years. It can wear you down and in the end you’re not building healthy and respectful relationships with the musicians and pub owners.

Growing apart from a harmful community takes its toll. But we’re always learning and Peace eventually settles in.

4 – Do you remember your practice process when you started playing? How much did it change through the years?

Looking back it is pretty clear to me that the biggest missing part of my musical progress was the lack of a practice process. How to study? What is the process? How to accomplish goals? How to develop and grow skills?

This has made me dedicate my life to pursuing the best methods and practices to develop creative musical habits. The process has grown hugely and it is a constant working process based on measurements, experience and lots of practice.

5 – Tell us about your routines. How does a regular day in your life looks like? 

Since I teach a lot (guitar, music for kids, music for grown ups, English class, Pilates and Yoga class) and perform in the afternoon or in the evening, my days hardly look the same. I’m being able to keep some level of consistency, which I find very important to keep me on track. Unconsciously and intriguingly the clock keeps me sharp. Check this out:

09:09h – Wake up, read the news, have breakfast, personal hygiene (which always includes meditation after brushing my teeth).

10:10h – Start practicing (two “Pomodoros”, 25minutes each with a 5 minute break)

11:11h – Take a break, resume my daily mental exercises (chess puzzles included) and take care of any appointments for the day (rehearsals, classes, repertoires, etc)

12:12h – Keep practicing (two more “Pomodoros”, 25minutes each with a 5 minute break)

13:13h – Lunch break

14:14h – Back to practice mode (back to my Pomodor Technique 😉 )

15:15 – Short breathing break and time to prepare leaving home

16:16h – Look at the clock and say to myself: “I got to go to school, my students are waiting… 5 more minutes… Ten minute latter I’m still with the guitar on my hand 🙂

17:17h – Prepare to end the kids class and start preparing my individual students classes.

18:18h – Go to the gig.

19:19h – Intermission and resume the gig.

20:20h – Go home, have dinner with my wife and catch up.

21:21h – Time to shift the brain to neutral a little bit.

22:22h – Listening to music… Mindfuly (paying attention to detail)

23:23h – NBA time

24:24h – The 25th hour 😉 

6 – How do you balance work and rest? How long are your working sessions and pauses? 

I’ve been devoting these last years on the Maximizing Performance Process and particularly over the most productive strategies to be on the edge of one’s abilities.

Thus, I schedule a 4-hour mindful practice, usually divided in 4 hours (25 minute + 5 minute break each hour = 8 Pomodoros), every day, except weekends. Now I find break time extremely important in order to rejuvenate the creative flow. 

7 – What do you value the most in the music/musicians you love to listen? What key ingredients you love to hear when listening to some new album, musician or student?

Through the years I’ve come to realize that what knocks me out of my feet is the element of surprise. The spontaneity, the novelty, and the passion on interpretation can really capture my attention even when I’m distracted doing something else while music is playing in the background.

Also structure is very important to me. A sense of direction, as opposed to random ideas glued together. The music has to tell a story, has to have some drama, some intensity, some unexpected twists of faith. If it’s unpredictable, beautiful, heartfelt and passionate it will definitely catch my ears.

8 – Do you meditate?

I don’t know if I ever meditate or if I never stopped meditating. Any kind of practice or activity that pulls you towards a more focused, clear or mindful state is meditation.

Recently I’ve been investigating on the subject and I consider it to be as fundamental as personal hygiene. This is, certainly, something I’d wanted to had started sooner.

9 – What would you consider to be the most important advice, quote or reference someone ever gave to you?

I love quotes 🙂 I keep several journals of quotes from the masters and some of my own also. An original one I particularly like is this:

“If you don’t follow a Master become one.”

You know that a torch will light up quickly by the help of a flaming one. Nowadays the Internet gets you free access to whatever you think of but is still hard to personally connect with a real Master. And if that’s a meaningful thing to you – to excel, to create opportunities and to strengthen your talents, then there is no other way then to build your own level of Mastery. 

www.nunomarinhomusic.wix.com/jazz

10 – What would you like to be acknowledged for? What’s the most important aspect of your life’s journey that you’d like people to remember?

Relentless strive for mastery, righteousness and a warrior’s strength on his convictions. No human is flawless but you have your whole life to overcome your limitations.

If people remember me as a good-humoured, helpful, friendly, caregiver, relentless, hard-working, focused, driven and kind human being, then I know my life was serviceable or inspiring.

11 – What would be the record, the musician or the song that you would always refer in a conversation to Django?

I would offer him my albums. I think he would appreciate my ballads for the heartfelt character that he always put to his songs.

Regarding musicians I had to show him Biréli Lagrène for his excellence, Robin Nolan for the impact that his work had on me over the years and Pat Metheny for being one of the greatest musicians ever.

To pick a song is usually a hard task but I would definitely choose “The Truth Will Always Be” by Pat Metheny. The title says it all!

12 – What would you say to Django if you had the chance to meet him?  You are my Master and I’m your disciple. Please teach me 🙂

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