Arts & Entertainment, Music

A Musical Life

Herbie Hancock

Lesson time 13:33 min

Herbie followed an unlikely path to jazz, and it’s been a wild ride ever since. His story serves as an inspiration and a testament to what you can accomplish when you let passion be your guide.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Learn From Your Collaborators • Always Be Inclusive • Life Fuels Creativity • Dealing With Insecurity • Recognize Your True Self


You know, for some of you, your biggest obstacle may be your ego. You have to watch out for that. As soon as you start putting yourself on some kind of pedestal against other people, you're in big trouble. So this idea of creating a hierarchy is very destructive to your creativity, and to your being as a human being. There's also a tendency, many times, for people in the arts to put arts on a pedestal, and everything else is kind of lower level, or any other job is lower level. That's wrong. That's not true. Every human being has value, and there is no hierarchy about this job is better than that one, or this is more high level. Forget that. We're talking about human beings manifesting themselves in ways that they can contribute to the happiness of others. That's everybody's responsibility, including yours. I like to work with people that have open minds, open hearts. I like to work with people that do listen. I like to work with people that don't let ego get in their way, people that are willing to try anything to make things happen, to move things forward. I like to work with the best musicians I can find because I want to learn. No matter how old I get, I want to continually be a student. In many, many ways, making the record I'm making now, I am a student. I'm listening to a lot of people who are much younger than I am and opening myself up to ideas that they are giving me, because I'm learning a lot, you know? You know who's winning because of this? Me. And hopefully I'm sharing some experiences with them that I've had from my own life. And the feedback they're giving me is that they're learning some things, too. So what I always like is a win-win situation. Just because you win at something doesn't mean someone else has to lose. I don't like that idea at all. And I don't believe in it at all. What I believe in is in every case, there are two winners, at least two winners. That's what I look for. That's what I try to create. That's the kind of world I want to live in, and I think that's the kind of world you want to live in too. When I have the opportunity to write a song with another musician, trust is one of the most important elements involved. But first is listening to what they have to say, even if the idea that they're saying sounds to me like, oh, that's not going to work. The next thing that happens in my mind is that if this idea came from this person, what kind of context could I put down that would make that idea work? I think-- well, certainly for me, that kind of attitude--it's the attitude that makes a huge difference, and that really works for me. It's the same idea. Wait, ponder, you know, try to find another way of looking at it. Try to find a way that's more inclusive, where even something that might be considered trash, you might be able to find another way to look at the trash and find a way to try to use it. The...

About the Instructor

Herbie Hancock's jazz career started in his family's living room, listening to his favorite records and trying to play along. Now, he's one of the most celebrated musicians in the world. Join Herbie at the piano as he shares his approach to improvisation, composition, and harmony. Gain access to 10+ original piano transcriptions, including 5 exclusive solo performances.

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Herbie Hancock

Learn to improvise, compose, and develop your own sound across 25 video lessons.

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