Recently I read a post by Seth Godin about the “laboratory” vs the “factory” mentality and it really resonated with me.
Seth went on to encourage creativity in a laboratory / discovery / scientific spirit.
In the laboratory:
- we are dreamers
- we don’t know how things will turn out
- we don’t know or care if we can “sell” what we are making
- we may not even know what we will find
- we allow time to search
The lab is all about discovery and exploration.
In the factory:
- we are “task masters”
- we do what works, over and over so that
- we can sell more
- we tighten up the speed, efficiency and costs involved with producing our stuff
- we don’t waste time “searching” for a different way
The factory is about predictability and production.
Are you more of a lab musician or factory musician?
Might a “dip” to the other side do you & your music some good?
If music is a hobby, it’s easy to relax into the joy of discovery (the laboratory) as an escape from our other day to day drudgery. That’s great!
But the minute there’s a musical goal, maybe we want to record something or play in front of people, we try to make the music and ideas more concrete. We try to perfect and polish our creations (the factory). This has it’s place too.
If you are more of a dreamer…a music theory class or spending a week polishing a single song may do you some good.
If you are more of a task master…a walk in the woods humming melodies with no goal may do you some good.
Finding our inner balance between the “factory” and the “lab” can be a challenge.
Too often, I fall into being a “task master”. I quantify my entire days tasks and practice (not only music) with my to-do list of important items to do or practice. This leaves little room for joy.
Sometimes this leaves me in a very funky, non-creative mental zone. I can enjoy that I have gotten “tasks” accomplished, but there’s a missing feeling of “mystery, wonder and magic.”
To balance this out I recently spent an entire day playing (my very shabby) Bach on piano, singing blues and playing with recording software – just to feel human again.
The music on this “lab day” may never be heard by anyone (I hope!)….but that’s not the point. The point was to dream and not know what was going to happen.
Why am I telling you this?
Because it’s from your “musical dream laboratory” that you will find songs, grooves and solutions to long standing technical issues….and have your epiphanies and “aha” moments.
However…with no structure and practice, dreaming is a nebulous blog. I mean, blob.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Where do you lie on this scale (lab / factory, task master / dreamer), most of the time?
- What side could you and your music use more of – the “factory” or the “lab”?
- Over the past week, in which zone have you spent most of your time?
- Could you schedule ONE day this week of the side you have been “”leaving out”?