Saturday, March 14, 2015

Your Growth As a Musician (returning or continuing musicians)

This begins a series of articles on continued growth as a musician; will address those who are already playing/studying and those who have returned to playing and studying.

Here's what my readers can look forward to...for starters:

  • facing/setting your own expectations
  • making progress
  • dealing with plateaus
  • keeping a journal
  • recording and reflection
An Overview-

If you are reading this you've experienced some frustrations in your musical progress. Most of us feel that we should play better or learn faster. Much of this comes from our listening to recordings, and even though we know these recordings are the result of many takes and/or much editing and, it must be said, years of practice and performance experience behind them, we still set our own personal bar against this unrealistic product. 
Comparing ourselves to others is unrealistic (even our peers) and unproductive. The most productive listening is to listen to learn, not to imitate.  Allow me an example from my own teaching -- I'll often ask students what is their favorite music and who is their favorite performer - both as a way of determining appropriate yet interesting repertoire and as confirmation of what I've been hearing, with respect to hero influences, in their playing.  My suggestion to them, and now to you is, "When you reach your goal of playing like [insert hero's name here], when a promoter considers hiring you vs. [hero] who do you think they'll or he/she?" "Okay then, so you can decide now to become someone with a unique voice in the world of music, the best you(!);  or, you can throw all of your efforts behind becoming a lesser [hero/heroine]."  And why wouldn't you want to be the best you.
I'll throw in one more of my aphorisms, one I find summarizes the process of musical learning as well as what I think is music learning's most valuable outcome:  "All the time you think you are making music, it is making you."  If we make ourselves open, aware and vulnerable to change this is what happens. It changes us, makes us better.  So, again I ask, why would we want to be a mini-me of our hero? Let's learn from all musicians, not by mere imitation, but with the goal of observing what we can incorporate into making ourselves. Be the best you!

Next... facing and setting your own expectations!

Happy Practicing!

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