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By Jeffrey Baumgartner

1. Listen to music by Johann Sebastian Bach.  If Bach doesn’t make you more creative, you should probably see your doctor.

2. Brainstorm.  If properly carried out, brainstorming can help you not only come up with sacks full of new ideas, but can help you decide which is best.

3. Always carry a small notebook and a pen or pencil around with you.  That way, if you are struck by an idea, you can quickly note it down.  Upon rereading your notes, you may discover about 90% of your ideas are daft.  Don’t worry, that’s normal.  What’s important are the 10% that are brilliant.

4. If you’re stuck for an idea, open a dictionary, randomly select a word and then try to formulate ideas incorporating this word.  You’d be surprised how well this works.  The concept is based on a simple but little known truth: freedom inhibits creativity.  There are nothing like restrictions to get you thinking.

5. Define your problem.  Grab a sheet of paper, electronic notebook, computer or whatever you use to make notes, and define your problem in detail.  You’ll probably find ideas positively spewing out once you’ve done this.

6. If you can’t think, go for a walk.  A change of atmosphere is good for you and gentle exercise helps shake up the brain cells.

7. Don’t watch TV.  Experiments performed by the JPB Creative Laboratory show that watching TV causes your brain to slowly trickle out your ears and/or nose.  It’s not pretty, but it happens.

8. Don’t do drugs.  People on drugs think they are creative.  To everyone else, they seem like people on drugs.

9. Read as much as you can about everything possible.  Books exercise your brain, provide inspiration and fill you with information that allows you to make creative connections easily.

10. Exercise your brain.  Brains, like bodies, need exercise to keep fit.  If you don’t exercise your brain, it will get flabby and useless.  Exercise your brain by reading a lot (see above), talking to clever people and disagreeing with people- arguing can be a terrific way to give your brain cells a workout.  But note, arguing about politics or film directors is good for you; bickering over who should clean the dishes is not.

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Today in 1901 the great jazz musician Louis Armstrong was born. I happen to be a fan of his music and what he brought to the music world. So, today I have collected some quotes both by him and about him. If you would like to see some links to some sites on Louis Armstrong, I have listed a few at the bottom of this post.

“Louis Armstrong is quite simply the most important person in American music. He is to 20th century music (I did not say jazz) what Einstein is to physics and the Wright Brothers are to travel.” –Jazz documentary producer Ken Burns

“What we play is life.” -Louis Armstrong

“What he does is real, and true, and honest, and simple, and even noble. Every time this man puts his trumpet to his lips, even if only to practice three notes, he does it with his whole soul.” -Leonard Bernstein

“If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.” -Louis Armstrong

“I think that Louis Armstrong loosened the world, helped people be able to say ‘Yeah,” and to walk with a little dip in their hip. Before Louis Armstrong, the world was definitely square, just like Christopher Columbus thought.” -South African trumpet legend Hugh Masekela

“My whole life, my whole soul, my whole spirit is to blow that horn…” -Louis Armstrong

“He’s the father of us all, regardless of style or how modern we get. His influence is inescapable. Some of the things he was doing in the 20’s and 30’s, people still haven’t dealt with.” -Nicholas Payton

“Never play a thing the same way twice.” -Louis Armstrong

“You can’t play anything on a horn that Louis hasn’t played.” -Miles Davis

“There is two kinds of music the good and the bad. I play the good kind.” -Louis Armstrong

“If you don’t like Louis Armstrong, you don’t know how to love.” -Mahalia Jackson

“The memory of things gone is important to a jazz musician.” -Louis Armstrong

“Louis Armstrong is the master of the jazz solo. He became the beacon, the light in the tower, that helped the rest of us navigate the tricky waters of jazz improvisation.” -Ellis Marsalis

“If it weren’t for him, there wouldn’t be any of us.” -Dizzy Gillespie

A few sites on Louis Armstrong:

The Louis Armstrong Tribute Site

What a Wonderful World Performance on YouTube

YouTube clip of Louis Armstrong playing in the film Paris Blues.

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