Learning to make music starts with mechanics. A piano is just a load of buttons, to start with everyone simply learns which order and combinations to press them in. All instruments (including the voice) can be thought of in these terms and many people never make it past this stage, which is fine. Like a juggler or a fast touch typist they have developed a motor skill that gives them satisfaction and is often very impressive to watch (like those guitarists on youtube that can play 10 notes a second).
But in my opinion they are not truly making music. Making music is about a communal experience, it is a form of communication and true musicians are always expressing something.
This may be the solo artist communicating with their audience or something more complex like a band. Making music as a group requires the musician to listen to the other members and respond appropriately to express whatever the song has to say.
Many young ambitious musicians want to learn how to play everything there is to play on their instrument, to master every technique. Their true musicianship arrives when they learn when not to play, it is the silence between the notes that really allow the message to be heard (try telling that to a lead guitarist in middle of a noodling session though)
Obviously this is a skill that comes in very handy in non musical communication as well, conversations normally don’t go so well if everyone talks at the same time!
But the wonderful thing about music is that it can be used to express something that it is impossible to put into words. We are an animal that has prospered by living and working together and I think that music taps into that need that we have for communal experiences, it is a really deep part of what we are. Music offers itself brilliantly for this purpose because it can circumvent language, gender, race, culture and any of the other things that separate us.
And so to the question for this post: what did music teach you, give you, or allow you to do or overcome?
I look forward to reading your responses!
Till next time
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