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Ask Your self “This Query” As a substitute Of “That Query” For Optimum Satisfaction

selective focus photography of piano keys
Picture by Steve Johnson on

“A person’s a genius only for wanting like himself.”

-Thelonious Monk

After I first fell in love with the concept of taking part in music, it was as a result of I needed to play jazz. And the factor that impressed me essentially the most about my favourite jazz musicians was how authentically they expressed themselves. It was like you would “see” who they have been as human beings just by listening to the sounds they have been making. Typically you knew simply by they manner they performed a single be aware.

I needed that magic greater than something I’d ever needed earlier than in my younger life. I needed to have the ability to let one thing deep inside me come out to indicate the world who I used to be, they manner my jazz heroes did.

So I started severe research of the flute and the saxophone. I practiced diligently and thoughtfully, actually placing within the effort and time.

But it surely wasn’t lengthy into my research when my motivation started to remodel. It shifted from the idealized notion of “what I needed to do”, as to whether or not what I used to be doing was “good” or “dangerous”, “proper” or “mistaken”, and many others.

In fact that is regular, and it made sense on the time. I actually needed to study to specific myself, and there should be a single, appropriate manner to take action (or so my younger thoughts thought).

The up aspect of this shift was that I turned conscious of all of the issues I needed to handle so as to have the ability to develop the abilities I wanted to specific myself.

However because the years handed, some unintended penalties got here together with this emphasis on searching for what was good or dangerous, or proper or mistaken, in my taking part in. Briefly, I’d misplaced contact with that authentic, lovely motivation for why I needed to play within the first place.

I’d misplaced contact with the magic.

There was not a single factor that I did as musician that felt unique (or deeply related) to me. My sound was nice and full, my approach strong, I may improvise fairly skillfully in a wide range of types.

However there was nothing in what I performed that felt prefer it was that very same “me” that needed to play music within the first place these years earlier than.

It was a unusually unsatisfying feeling. On the one hand I used to be taking part in “fairly nicely”, getting gigs and taking part in in a wide range of ensembles. Alternatively, I didn’t actually like (or dislike, for that matter) a lot of what I performed.

Then one thing shifted in my perspective. It started as I contemplated a relatively odd, hypothetical query that got here to thoughts one wet afternoon as I sat in my apply room:

“How would my taking part in change from this level onward if I knew no person however ‘me’ would ever hear ‘me’ once more?”

I spent a very long time with this query, meditating on it day by day for a lot of weeks. I started to journal fairly meticulously about my ideas. Nice particulars started to emerge in my journaling about my conception of sound, about aesthetics in improvisation (particularly phrasing, and silence), about expanded sonic potentialities and methods on saxophone, and extra.

My creativeness got here to life! I turned enthusiastic about how I used to be pondering this query, and was enormously impressed to apply in a very new manner.

To at the present time, I’m profoundly grateful for asking that query. As a result of that’s the query I wanted to ask to be able to deliver myself again to my authentic motivation to play music, these years in the past. To deliver myself again to the magic.

And it has been that “authentic motivation” that retains me so endlessly engaged in my course of as a musician, and in my development as a human being.

In essence, what occurred was a change in a primary query about assessing myself and my wants as a musician.

As a substitute of asking myself the query,

“Is that this good?” (or “dangerous”, because the case could also be), about something that needed to do with my taking part in, musical conception, and many others.,

I started to ask myself as a substitute,

“Is that this what I would like?”

Now, you is perhaps pondering that these are the identical factor. However the distinction in the way you may proceed, relying on which of those questions you ask your self, could be large.

And for positive there may be overlap. A wealthy, versatile and resonant sound is a “good” factor, and it may also be “one thing I would like”.

However after I go to “what I would like” as a suggestion, I flip to an intrinsic set of values to information me towards a wealthy, versatile and resonant sound. I begin pondering and imagining issues extra particularly, with nice consideration to element.

A “wealthy, versatile and resonant” sound present itself in an infinite number of colours and voices. And when it’s my voice, my creativeness…nicely, it simply turns into clear and deeply satisfying to expertise and to specific.

You see, one of many potential drawbacks of the “good/dangerous” query is that it too sometimes comes from an extrinsic set of values, from issues outdoors of the creativeness and want of the artist.

In my expertise educating the Alexander Approach to younger, rising performing artists (of a wide range of disciplines), this evaluation of “good” can typically include a scarcity of readability and particulars.

“I simply acknowledge ‘good’ after I hear it”, just isn’t a very constructive conception. Aimless and meandering, at greatest.

And the evaluation of “dangerous” with these similar artists can also be too typically missing in helpful data and particulars.

After I might help them to vary the inquiry from “good/dangerous” to “need/don’t need”, they can seamlessly merge good technical qualities with genuine self expression. It’s win/win.

So give your self an opportunity to consider these two questions. Discover them within the apply room with love and real curiosity. Hold them in thoughts if you’re listening to music you actually love, too.

Enable your self, as Thelonious Monk stated, to “seem like your self”. This lovely world we reside in wants your voice.


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