The difficulty of being “musical”

I’m gonna lay this out there first:

Being musical is not hard.

So…why do you think it’s hard? You think it’s hard because you were told it’s hard.

Think back to early experiences when you first realized that being musical was hard:

  • Maybe you had a music teacher who told you that you weren’t being musical.

  • Maybe you listened to a recording of yourself playing and thought it didn’t sound musical.

  • Maybe you heard a musician you admire say that being musical is hard and then you assumed you couldn’t do it without having the experience they have.

What would happen if you questioned all of this?

The music teacher who told you that you weren’t being musical: what if they were in a bad mood that day? What if they just didn’t like your idea of how music should sound? What if you were distracted by something and it affected your playing and they interpreted it as “you weren’t being musical”?

The recording of yourself you listened to: what if you were in a bad mood while listening to it?

The great musician who said being musical takes years of experience: what if they’re only talking about their level of musicality at their current age? What if, when they were 9 years old, they also played musically (but musically for a 9-year-old)?

Are you sure the problem is that you weren’t being musical? Are you sure playing musically is difficult?

So…what’s the deal? Why does it seem hard?

Try to look at this separately from everything anyone else might say about your playing. Also, try to look at it separately from anything you might say about your own playing.

You’re all way too biased.

If you can listen to music and you can feel yourself respond to it, if you understand it, if it moves you, then you’re musical enough. You don’t need more than that.

The trick is to allow that to come through while you play.

You’re already doing it. You just need to stop doing the other stuff.



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