Attention: You playing music is Not Important!
But for some, music becomes all encompassing and the most important thing in their life. It becomes all to important to play well, sound good, and be revered for their playing ability.
Now here’s the thing, music doesn’t matter.
There are many things much more important than music. Look, there are many things that are basic to life such as breathing, eating, drinking that matter far more than music.
Kenny Werner in his book, Effortless Mastery, uses the plastic bag over the head scenario to describe just how important breathing is than it is to consider music. Getting that next breath of air is a must, figuring out the correct style of jazz is not so important anymore.
Music is optional
I’m not going to go into a long dissertation on this, but the bottom line is that music is an optional vocation. Music is an extra, a gift of leisure if you will. It’s totally a voluntary effort.
That’s why it takes effort to engage and learn music. It’s easy to put off practicing and learning, because there are no real consequences.
So for those that are consumed with playing for others it’s going to be a tough and probably not much of an enjoyable road. For those of us that do it for the shear pleasure of self fulfillment there exists a much higher and loftier purpose.
What will be your Goal
So how does this all boil down? Well, you have to make two decisions if you’re going to play music and be successful at it. One is to engage in a voluntary pursuit and commit to it. The other is to do it for yourself and not for others.
I still struggle with what I want to do. Sure I enjoy playing for others, but I’ve learned that I can take it or leave it. Playing for myself is where I find the most satisfaction.
Do you ever notice that the real performers that you take pleasure in most are the ones that are enjoying what they are doing for themselves.
Take any one that has just played a fantastic solo, if you observe you will find that they are actually playing for themselves and you’re just along for the ride. And boy what a ride it usually turns out to be.
I promote that your goal should first and foremost be about achieving your desires. The rest will come as you advance your skill and playing ability.
Yes, I believe you have to learn theory and various songs and get lots of exposure to different types of music. It’s that process that allows you to gain skills of which you will then use to…
Create your own voice
I begun my journey into my own voice some time ago and don’t share it often with others. I still see myself experimenting with the knowledge I’ve gained over the years.
Lately, I’ve found myself expressing and experimenting more than ever. I’ll often go back to songs I’ve learned to tune up the fingers, ears, and rhythm. Then I’ll take the evening, with the lights out, and play the keyboard looking and hunting for my sound.
This is truly one of the benefits I’ve gained. If I ever played another note would it matter? Probably not, but for that empty place within myself.
My next test is to play my voice when others are around and see if they enjoy it as much as I do. I suppose the worst that could happen is they ask me play something “I know”.
Work toward learning all you can about music, but always remember it’s about you finding your voice in the end. You can achieve the technician status or you can shoot for more, it’s entirely up to you, because in the end it’s only yourself that you have to satisfy.