A Musician is Fortunate to be a Musician…
With the holidays upon us I find myself looking back and taking stock in where I’ve been and where I am. As I ponder my good fortune at being a musician, I’m drawn to the question; What do musicians really want?
If you can sing in the shower or play a couple chords on a guitar or a ukulele, isn’t that enough. You know, some days, it is. Other days, I need to play for someone that’s listening. I need to think about the next instrument I’m going to get. I need to share with my students and question my teachers.
Being a musician goes long and deep and I’m nowhere near the end of it…
Music as an obsession
Music is not a terrible obsession, as obsessions go. I recall starting out in a room with the shades drawn and the door shut tight. I didn’t want to be interrupted and I didn’t want anyone to hear me. This seems a little crazy when so many modern guitar players talk about playing, as a way to meet girls. I certainly wanted to meet girls too…
I realized, early on, that I wanted everyone to see GREATNESS in my guitar playing. More than just ego I was driven to listen and play. I saw a cure for all my problems and adolescent insecurities, in becoming a great guitar player.
It was important that no one see the process, at least at first. I wanted to spring my greatness upon the world all at once. The longer it took to add new chords to my repertoire, the less I struggled with my lack of greatness. I started to see that music is a serious business and I needed to commit.
Boy meets guitar
After getting a guitar a wondrous metamorphosis took place. I had somewhere to belong; I was a guitar player. I obsessed on everything about guitar. I would go to Art Nicotera’s music shop and stare at the Gretsch, Tennessean hanging on the wall, dreaming about how much fun I was going to have, playing that guitar.
My brother always said that a Fender, Telecaster was the best guitar so I was going to have one of those with a Twin Reverb amp, to run it through… I found Guitar Player magazines in the school library and studied them, cover to cover.
I went to dances and stood in front of the guitar players, all night, to figure out how they played each song. After each dance, I sat up in my room, committing what I had seen and heard to memory.
I played in the morning. I played after school. I played during school. I wasn’t in the school band but I was in the music room, every chance I could dodge my classes. I didn’t have a social life, that didn’t include guitar.
I realized if I could sing I could get my friends, who had a band, to show me how to play. I agreed to sing in the band if they would let me play. I knew I would have do a good job singing, while I worked on being an adequate guitar player. So, I joined the school chorus and worked at it. I became obsessed with learning all I could about music and signed up for every music class that was offered in high school.
Music as salvation
I started out a lonely confused teenager and became a kid with a mission. That mission was music, heavy on the guitar. By high school I was playing for anyone who would listen. I pestered the music teachers to let me play my little singer-songwriter act between orchestra/chorus sets at the school concerts.
I had stage fright, but would take every opportunity to play. My friends and I started a band and booked the CYO dance and parties. We worked at being able to figure out what we were hearing on the radio. I swear, I had a spiritual experience the first time I sang for an audience, with that band.
Some friends, started a band called, “Real Live Jive” which stands for, “football players sing with music nerds and all hell breaks loose!” That was a fun, “take no prisoners” kind of band. (One day I may do a whole post on that experience…)
So, the kid with a mission, grew up to overcome his adolescence. The trials of growing up became the inspiration of song. Music can be a positive reaction to the chaos, violence, and uncertainty of the world around us. It celebrates the good times in our lives. Boredom is totally curable when you can play an instrument.
I tell students that the only reason everyone doesn’t play an instrument is because they can’t. We would all play together if we knew how…
Music As a life-style
Musicians make time to play. They will get together and make the best music they can, even if it’s not the best music. They are known to buy, sell, and trade all things, music. They will book a gig just to get out and play.
And what about my friends that don’t play an instrument? You will wait in line to get tickets to a concert. You will wake up early, the day tickets go on sale, to buy online before they sell out. I realize that music listening has become an online experience but we still look for the next release by our favorite artists.
Music is basic to humanity. I will take a step further and say that music is part of what makes people human. If you’ve been in love, you’ve listened to love songs. Maybe even sung a few…
Taj Mahal, “Lovin’ In My Baby’s Eyes”
Being human means hearing music in the wind and being moved to tears by a childs singing. To live the complete human experience, people need music. The more we enjoy and understand music, the more we enjoy our lives, in depth. (I invite you to read my post about understanding music.)
What do musicians want?
Musicians want to understand music, at a deep level. We want to learn more. We want to be surrounded by the tools of our craft. We want to talk to other musicians. We want our friends to love our music. We want everyone to love our music…
So let’s all go out and buy a new CD or even an LP, vinyl record! Let’s all go see a local artist and see a show at our favorite opera house. Let’s all get bumper stickers that say, “hug a musician…” It’s not music (or art) for art’s sake, it’s the humanitarian thing to do.
Musicians want to PLAY! and they want you to listen…
Are you a player or a listener?
Would you rather see a concert or go dancing?
Let me know, below…