I recently watched a documentary on a famous drum company. I may post about it in future but that's not what I'm going to discuss today. While watching the doc, the host/drummer, who obviously is a bit jet-lagged as the company he's visiting is in Europe, muses aloud if he has any "chops" left and if there's a possibility that one could use up owns allotment of technique for any one day. Now, it's readily apparent he's being facetious, but it did get me wondering about that manner of thinking. Is technique a limited resource? I don't think so. Once one develops a certain level of physical comfort with an instrument, that doesn't go away, unless one becomes physically or physiologically damaged because of some sort of trauma. At least that's what I believe. Okay, what about ideas? Is there a bank of ideas that one borrows from until your account is empty? I don't buy that either! Have you every listened to someone play and it seems like they never run out of things to say? To write? What causes that?
I think the answer, for me, is that it doesn't come from us. I really think there are higher creative forces, muses, whatever you want to call it, that send us information and guidance, in the moment, if we're open to it. Okay, this where all the atheists get annoyed at me and stop reading, but hear me out...
How do explain music, where it comes from, and the effect it has on us? I really feel it comes from something bigger than ourselves. I don't think we have to give it a name, read the bible, go to church or chant to receive this higher force's transmissions. ( Although if any of the former practices help you do that, by all means go for it. ) I think we just have to be open to it. We need to take the pressure off ourselves to create. To let go of the extremely egotistical idea that everything we do emanates from us. Instead, let's embrace the idea that we are a channel for this higher creative spirit, and work on preparing so that we can receive it's wisdom. How do we prepare? I believe there are a few ways.
1. Calm your mind
A big part of this process for me has been getting out of my own way. That means letting go of negative self talk and judgement, not only when I'm playing but in all aspects of my daily life. Any sort of meditative practice will help with this. There are many meditation videos online or Kenny Werner's great Effortless Mastery books and seminars are great resources. Don't worry if you're getting it right, just get started!
2. Practice your instrument
I think there's a tendency when there's discussion of higher creative forces to think the muse will visit you and present you with a brilliant idea even if you never spend any time with your instrument. Not so! You need to develop a relationship and get comfortable with whatever your physical conduit to the music is. You need to have a loose open mind and technique to receive whatever secrets the creative force is willing to whisper in your ear. Otherwise you won't be ready to hear it.
3. Build your creative appetites
When we're talking about music, this means LISTENING! LOTS AND LOTS OF IT! Listening to music of all styles, played by all instruments and vocals. Listening to the sounds of industry and nature, and finding music in that as well.
4. Be less attached to results
Be willing to accept whatever you hear in your improvisations and compositions. Don't worry if you think it's hip or not, just flow with it.
5. No matter what happens, love yourself unconditionally
And i mean unconditionally. Not "if I play well" or "If I write a tune that merits my affection". Nope. Being kind and gentle with yourself is a prerequisite to all creativity, as far as I'm concerned, and non-negotiable!
Usually, at this point, I usually post some music, but I think in this case, I'll issue a challenge instead. If you feel this post has helped you, or even got you thinking slightly differently, then please go play, write or draw, etc. If you're comfortable with it, please send me link to the results. If I get some responses, perhaps I'll share some of them in a future post.
Thanks for being here, and celebrate yourself TODAY!