If you are a musician, you would probably agree that studying music is a never-ending process. There is always something to improve. There is always new music to discover. It's a process that can be overwhelming. It's a path that is not necessarily going to take you to a concrete objective. There is no finish line. There is no end. Of course, there are goals that we accomplish along the way, but there is no end goal.
Studying music breaks with all the ideas of modern society, which focuses on productivity and immediacy 🙅♀️.
Let me explain myself better.
Productivity's culture seeks for everything we do to have an end product 🤑. Everything has to have a measurable material value. Otherwise, it would be useless. Side by side, immediacy appeals to the ability and will to satisfy ours needs or desires as quickly as possible, which does not involve time or effort 🏃♂️.
Before, to communicate with a friend in another country, you had to take the time to write a letter, send it, and wait weeks to receive an answer. Now, all you have to do is pick up your phone and call them.
I'm not going to dwell on the discussion if the old times were better or not. But, the way we live today has damaging effects on us, which we can neither deny nor ignore. There is nothing wrong with productivity in itself. The issue is that this idea has settled in all parts of our lives, public and private. There is a generalized belief that we should be productive even when we are resting. The problem with this is that the generation of goods (material, intellectual, etc.) has become the ultimate and most important goal. More than that, we have forgotten the importance of good living. Good living is enjoyment, happiness, being present, as opposed to being constantly worried about whether everything we are doing responds to a productive purpose and even feeling guilty about taking a nap when our body is overloaded and desperately asking for it 😞.
Concerning immediacy, it generates an erroneous idea of the value of things, which condemns us to total dissatisfaction. The things that fulfill us the most, the things that deeply gratify us, imply time, discipline, and commitment. Not so much for the final product. But for all the way we had to go through to get there 👣. The things we get without any effort can make us feel content, sure, but not fulfilled. And before long, we will be looking for another craving or desire to satiate. Consequently, we will always feel that nothing is or will be enough 😪.
Another problem with immediacy is that we create great expectations of what we would feel, and it never turns out to be what we expected. Thus, it is a condemnation of unhappiness. I am not saying that immediacy is wrong or bad. But, I think it is not right to seek it in all aspects of our life 💁♂️.
Let's say you can memorize all the rules for composing in one day, but that won't make you a great composer. A great composer needs to develop his sensitivity, have life experiences, have something interesting to share with the audience, etc.
I think that studying music goes against both of those things. Since it is not in itself a productive activity as such, nor does it enter into the scheme of immediacy. We know what it costs, in time and commitment, to improve as musicians!
So, studying music not only teaches us about music but brings us one of the greatest life lessons: enjoy the ride 🏄. Therein lies one of the great virtues associated with music education. Music is not only a beautiful art and form of expression, but it cultivates in the student's values like commitment, discipline, patience, etc.
It all sounds beautiful. Doesn't it?
We also have to be realistic. Studying music can be frustrating 😤.
I remember one day, back when I was studying violin. I was so tired and failing at playing Bach's Partita #2. That day I was unmotivated. The teacher I had at the time scolded me. I couldn't play the song right. And it seemed that it wasn't worth it to continue with music 😖.
I remember that day for two reasons. First, I was so frustrated that I bit my violin🙈. That violin, although I don't play it anymore, I still have it at home, and it has the marks of that bite 😅. Second, it made me think about why I was studying music. I have always had the habit of writing down what I am thinking, bringing order to my thoughts. Otherwise, my mind becomes chaotic, and I start feeling anxious. So, that day, as usual, I started writing. I concluded that I had to make sure I stayed motivated to keep on studying because music is what I love the most. Music is what makes me love life. I figured how I could make that happen and remain motivated. I strengthened those ideas over time, and today I want to share them with you, hoping that it will help you.
🕺Remember to have fun, always
Commit to yourself to take the time to have fun playing music. Even if it's five minutes a day.
Having a band is motivating to want to improve as a musician. In these times of social isolation, it can be a bit more complicated to have a band. However, with apps like Flat, you can connect and collaborate with musicians from all over the world. Also, I advise you to take time out of your studying time every day to jam and improvise.
🧘 Don't overdo it
It is imperative to build healthy relationships. And this includes the relationship we have with ourselves (our dreams, goals, habits, and profession). For a musician, discipline is vital, but you have to know how to set limits. It is worth more a good hour of study than many hours of reneging and studying badly. Quality more than quantity is the key.
Ideally, you should study every day. But, we are human. If one day you don't feel like studying, take your instrument and learn a song you like. Or you can listen to music you enjoy but always fill your days with music.
🤩 Award yourself
Recognizing your achievements is very important. No one knows what it has cost you and what it means to have accomplished what you have accomplished. Rewarding yourself is a form of self-conditioning, which makes us want to strive and remain committed.
📹 Record yourself
Record yourself from time to time playing or studying. Watch the videos a few months later, and you will see how much you have improved! It's very motivating to watch.
✍️ Establish goals every day
We build the path step by step. Another tip is to take a moment every morning and write down the goals you want to accomplish that day. They should be small and achievable. When the day ends, review what you wrote down in the morning. If you have achieved your goals, you will feel great. If you didn't accomplish them, ask yourself why you didn't do it, and commit to trying again tomorrow.
🍿 Watch live concerts
Watching our idols play is always a source of inspiration.
One of my favorite weekend plans is to invite some friends over or get together online to watch a live concert with a glass of wine. Besides the fact that it's fun, you learn a lot.
🤓 Read or watch films about music history
Creating an emotional connection with music is key to staying motivated to study. Learning about history, about the stories of the songs we are learning, and about the composers, creates a deeper connection to music. By doing this, you will stay interested and passionate about music.
That's all for today!
See you next time,