When I was about to go off to college I had no clue what I wanted to major in.....or at least I thought that was true. I knew what I was good at
. I could do the verbal thing pretty well. I was good at picking up foreign languages, my english scores were right at the top of the pile, I was great at history......and oh yeah, there's this music thing. Let's forget the fact that I was conflicted about choosing music because my music teach at the time basically told me I couldn't hack it.....my academic teachers didn't get the music thing. I mean, I had options
, so why would I want to throw my life in with the artistic people of the world. The question was always, "Why would you want to do that?"
Have you ever asked yourself that? As musicians, we have extraordinary demands placed on us day after day after day. Little chance of steady work, incredible competition, always pushing for a "perfect" performance, practicing 5-8 hours a day, getting the amount of sleep in a week that most people get in a night, alienation from the rest of society (hey.....we live
in liminal space)......I mean, what really drives us to do it?
Most musicians I know, can't live doing anything else. That doesn't mean to say that they aren't capable
of doing something else (probably the most common fallacy about those in our profession is that we don't have any other skills......stupid biology majors), instead it means that they can't live with the thought of spending less than a lifetime plugged into this art form. Personally I think we're wired differently. Most people like music, but I can't always explain to my friends in other fields that there's a sense of profound joy and ultimate connection when you create
music. Even though without recording equipment ours is the most impermanent of all of the art forms, there's a indefinable (possibly emotional) permanence about making music that I can't describe. I don't understand it when people talk about their job not being who they are. I am a musician
. I create an experience for people that moves them, and that affect stays with them (if I've done my job correctly) and makes an impact on their lives, even if they can't express that impact in words. From Dharmonia's post, Gary Snyder write, "Art takes nothing from the world; it is a gift and an exchange. It leaves the world nourished." O'Shaughnessy writes:
- We are the music makers,
- And we are the dreamers of dreams,
- Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
- And sitting by desolate streams;—
- World-losers and world-forsakers,
- On whom the pale moon gleams:
- Yet we are the movers and shakers
- Of the world for ever, it seems.
As often as I can, I tell my students that they are important and powerful, that they have the ability and responsibility to affect responsible change in the world through our art. What we do matters, even if Western culture doesn't always recognize it.
We put up with the insanity that is a musician's life, because that's what we have to do in order to make music
"Let the beauty we love be what we do."
Peace, Love, and Tunes,
Labels: music, Perspective