The way that many of us have been taught to think about learning music is like this:
- we function like computers
- if we get musical data input, and practice it enough, we should be able to play it back
- if we can’t play it back, it means we need to practice it more
This model has never really worked for me 100%. There’s much more to it than that.
The “person as computer” model does not acknowledge human beings’ complexity, depth,
taste, individuality and childhood & cultural experiences.
Looking back, my fingers have only found their way around my instrument with true confidence when music has really entered my “heart”, not just my head.
When there is a deep love for the music I work on techniques “reveal” themselves. It becomes an feeling of discovery and unfolding rather than a mental battle.
Conversely, if a musical style has NOT lit my soul up, my hands just cannot play it no matter how much I practice it.
Even if I understand music intellectually and practice it for long periods, it just never clicks if it has not truly entered my heart.
Have you ever had a frustrated practice session where you still can’t play something, wondering “am I stupid or do I lack talent? Why can’t I play this yet?”
If you are struggling technically the answer may not lie in “more practice”, it may mean that you are not being 100% authentic and true to YOUR nature.
This can be a relief, but also a deep challenge for you as well – because now you have to be extremely honest with yourself.
Here Are 5 tips on How To Re Connect With Your Musical Authenticity
Tip #1: Can You Sing What You Want to Play?
If you can’t sing it, it means you don’t really understand the musical message,
and you will not be able to play it well.
There is NO SUCH THING as “I hear it but I can’t sing it.”
If you can’t sing what you are trying to play, it is as if you are telling a story you don’t understand.
Tip #2: Put the Musical Idea First, Discover the Technique Second
With all music we have to go from the SOUND to the TECHNIQUE.
My composition teacher used to tell me “Always go from the SOUND to the PAPER.”
Same goes for playing an instrument.
It’s very easy to get fooled and start with technique and go in search of music. That is a backwards approach.
On a scientific level check out downward causation in Quantum Physics – i.e. Spirit coming down into Matter…cool stuff!
Tip #3: Focus on Your Rhythm Concept
This is THE core skill which we all have to work on – it’s an endless journey! Rhythm it is THE base concept, no matter what kind of music you play (yes, even classical!)
Your aim is to connect your body, head and time concept in a way that is based on natural laws. No matter what type of groove you play rhythm is THE flow of the music.
Don’ Use A Metronome! You are WAY better off going dancing in a disco and FEELING grove in your body rather than playing with a metronome.
Get your groove first, then allow the fingers to follow your body rhythm.
Tip #4: Embrace the Music and Culture You Grew up With
These are “musical messages” that you’ve absorbed into your body and being, that go far beyond “the notes.”
Of course check out new music…but the stuff you’ll sound great on and enjoy the most is that which has been digested by your heart & soul.
For example, when I play Beatles it just “feels right” because that’s what I grew up on. It does not feel separate from me, it’s a part of my life.
Tip #5: Don’t Succumb to Musical Peer Pressure
There are many styles of music out there…
In certain situations, it’s easy to feel that we SHOULD like what other people like, even when we don’t. Think of this as musical “peer pressure” 🙂
You can be open, acknowledge, respect and understand different styles and not love them. That’s ok!
The connection with one’s musical authenticity is a total alignment that happens inside the musician, regardless of musical style.
- As listeners, it is the “sweetness” we get when our favorite musicians play in an authentic state…it’s the message between the notes.
- As a performer, being “in alignment” with your authenticity is one of the greatest feelings life can give, and it’s one of the greatest gifts you can give others.
When you play authentically, your light will shine. You might not even realize how deeply you affect people by playing this way.
This is far more profound than a “perfectly practiced performance.”
Enjoy the journey!