I have been thinking a lot more lately about music. As well I have been practicing a lot more. I have been thinking about music practice and songwriting and how much of a discipline it truly its. Before music school I used to have this idea in my head that songwriting was all about inspiration. You had to wait for those moments when the song just “comes” to you. I have found this not to be true. As my guitar teacher Mark Hildderbrand puts it “Often you have go chase creativity.” Yes we have to work for that song. Creativity is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Songwriting requires a lot of thought, input from others, playing around with the chords and melodies and patience. I have learned that songwriting is a journey. I am not going to become a great songwriter and seasoned musician overnight. It requires work and dedication. I requires trying, working, failing and trying working and failing all over again.
Last night I had my songwriting class at school. This is a class where we are writing songs, performing them in front of the class and getting input from the class mates and teacher. With shaking hands I played my songs for the class. They didn’t sound as great as they did in my head. My guitar playing is a choppy and off the beat as I play some chords I don’t usually play. I stand there and graciously accept constructive criticism from the class and instructor. My songs my brain children, my creations and are picked apart. This is not my favourite part about music and songwriting but I’m learning it is essential. We need other people in our songwriting journey. Sometimes we need to face the truth that we are not as great as we think we are. We need constructive criticism so that we can grow and become better.
After class I felt a little discouraged. I felt like “Man 10 plus years of playing the guitar and I’m still not that great.” I also think to myself that I should have it by now. I should after over 10 years be a much better musician than I am. I wallow in a cloud of self pity of my transit ride back home from school. You know what, who cares if I’m not the best. Who cares if 10 plus years have gone by and I’ve made slower progress than a lot of other people. I still have many years ahead of me to get it right. Self pity you suck!! But as artists we can get like this. We need to be gentle with ourselves. I have written before that in order to be a good artist we must first have the courage to be a bad artist. This is very freeing for me. It’s ok to suck for a while so that eventually I can be awesome. This inspires me to not give up!
I love the quote pictured above. Sometimes there just are no words only music and only a song. Music transcends barriers and reaches into the very core of one’s being. That’s my goal I want to become so good that my music reaches people’s very centre. I am a unique person with a unique voice and a unique message to share with the world. And you my friends are unique in your own way too. So let your originality shine and be your best self. Listen or play some of your favourite music today.