Why a musician?
This is a very basic but often overlooked question for a lot of people who consider pursuing music as a career or means of income. Without answering this question for yourself, you will find it hard to find focus and direction. Your chance for success will be much lower, and you will find it hard to get motivated for the hours of practice, promoting, performing, traveling, handshaking, recording, and other activities ahead of you. Most music fans, and some prospective musicians, may think that the answer is obvious. It's all about the fame, fortune, lifestyle, fans, and glory...right? Probably not, at least not for those who want to become musicians for the long haul. That being said, everyone has their own motivation regardless of its complexity or depth. The point of this exercise is not to decide what reasons are good or bad, but to explore our motives and discover what makes us tick as musicians. We have to be honest with ourselves and take a really good look at our feelings and feelings, values, and experiences. Here's what I came up with.
Is love Enough?
My first thing I thought about was my love of music. Music's always been part of my life, from school band to church choir to working at a pop radio station in my youth. I am a fan of pretty much all music. When I listen to music I am pulled in to all of its components. I listen to the story written in the lyrics, move to the rhythm, melody and harmonies, and feel how the structure of the song creates emotion. While the love of music may be a big factor, I realize it is not the reason that I wanted to be a musician. If this were the main factor, there would be a ton of music fans out there taking lessons and forming bands. As far as the way I listen to music, I think this is as much a result of being a musician as it is being a music lover.
"All the world's a stage!"
While mulling over this question, I realized that I've always had a desire to create and perform. Long before "air guitar" or karaoke, we would use household items at my grandmother's house to put on shows while playing old 45 records. Brooms were guitars, an old foot operated sewing machine was a keyboard, and a metal kitchen trash can with a pedal was a drum set. From middle school to college, I acted in live performances. I appeared in a Public Television production for The Great American Smoke Out. I acted in, directed, and edited a short film in a gifted program while in middle school. The list goes on and on. Until now, I had forgotten about a lot of these things. Looking back it's pretty obvious that I love to entertain. Ironically, I'm not very comfortable with attention that entertaining other people draws. This is true with a lot of artists and performers that I've spoken to over the years. It's more about engaging people than it is being in the spotlight. There's a rush in having people really get drawn into whatever it is that you are presenting and to have them believe you. There's a connectivity that you feel with people when they accept and receive whatever it is that you are presenting. Just like any form of communication, performance is a two-way street and needs to be received before it to be complete.
"How to Win Friends and Influence People"
Well not really, but wanting to have a positive influence on others does seem to play into my desire to be a musician. It just seems like the next logical step after getting people to engage with you. Or maybe getting people to engage is a logical method to influencing them. Either way, It seems that I've always had this trait or desire. As a leader in the military I had to influence and motivate soldiers. On the surface it may not seem very "artistic" but for me it was a very deep and personal thing. There were feelings, thoughts, ideas, and values that I tried to express, in a very personal way, to those I served with. I felt a huge responsibility to mentor and guide in a positive way that made life better for those around me. I did the same thing as a technical and customer service trainer. Even as a server in a restaurant I received the greatest satisfaction by providing a great experience to my customers. I'm not saying that I was the greatest at doing any of this, but it is what I tried to do and it's the reason I wanted to do a good job. With music I really want people to understand an idea, feel an emotion, or consider a point of view. In doing so, I want them to have richer life. It doesn't always have to be something really deep though. It can be as simple as letting people have a good time and enjoy themselves.
Welcome to the dark side.
Obviously music and art are not just about happy thoughts, it's not all rainbows and unicorns! Music allows us to express some of the darker things lurking inside us. For a performer it can be very therapeutic and provide us an outlet for our demons. If we can connect with others while expressing these thoughts and ideas, we can provide a release for them as well and be a positive influence. It lets us all relate to a common experience and hopefully we can see we're all in this together.
"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts"
It's impossible to narrow down what makes or drives our desire to be musician to just one thing! Even with all of my long winded pontification, I've barely scratched the surface of my personal experience in this post. I've also thought about experiences and influences that have led me to this path, as well as deeply personal thoughts and ideas that I probably wouldn't share anyhow. The point is I took my time to really look at why I want this life. It also gave me a way to decide if this is what I really want to do. I believe this is something everyone should do, not just musicians. It can be helpful with both professional and personal decisions. Without understanding what it is that is driving us, it's not going to be easy to develop goals. After all, goals are created to help us fulfill desires. So, I suppose we need to understand our desires in order to develop goals, Hmmm, maybe setting goals would be a good blog topic!
Until we meet again...
Thanks for stopping by and reading this post! I hope everyone can find something informative, thought provoking, or entertaining here at my blog. Please feel free to leave thoughts and comments in the comment section below, or you can email me at Jim@HippyJimMusic.com . Please subscribe by entering your email below or on the main blog page. That way you can get updates for the blog as well as follow my music. Also check out the Archive and Featured post to catch up if this is your first visit.
Until next time - Keep on Livin' the Dream