Listen carefully…Can you hear that? Underneath the thoughts about your credit card bill and next Tuesday’s dinner plans. Past the anxiety about that upcoming job interview and the frustration with your painfully slow progress in the practice room. A faint murmur bubbling up in your subconscious. A voice trying to break through the noise of your everyday life. I’m talking about your creative voice!
The same inner voice that you’ve had since you were a child…
The one that daydreamed. That saw things differently and wasn’t embarrassed to be original. The voice that’s honest and heartfelt and out to discover new possibility.
Take it or leave it, this creative voice is the key to coming into your own as a musician.
More than technique, a shiny new instrument, or even years of schooling it’s the one thing that makes you unique.
And that’s exactly why you need to start listening to it…
Hey listen up!
We’ve all got an inner voice.
The only problem is that not everyone hears it.
Some people just ignore it, some are afraid of risking it, and some let the voice get drowned out by the details of daily life. However, for the ones that take a plunge into the unknown and trust their intuition the possibilities are endless.
This creative voice is what led Beethoven to his 5th symphony, it’s the impulse that made Miles Davis keep searching for new sounds, and the calling that pushed Coltrane to make A Love Supreme.
These creative individuals learned to listen to their inner voice, to nurture it and follow it. From a little spark came a relentless drive to create something new and a desire to share something personal.
And the same should be true of you.
You may not be a professional musician and you may be just starting out on your musical journey, but the fact is music is part of your life. There is something calling you to pick up an instrument, to perform in front of an audience, and to create something all your own.
Don’t let this voice get silenced by fear or frustration and don’t let it get squashed down by the routine of everyday life. Here’s how…
Begin with the things that make you excited
Are you forcing yourself to learn tunes that you hate?
Are you reducing the possibility of improvisation to a few scales and music theory rules?
Are you settling for the same old gigs over and over again?
The first step in freeing your creativity is removing the things that are stifling it. You need to connect with the reason you were drawn to music in the first place.
The sounds of your favorite records, the creative spark of improvisation and collaboration, a melody and chord progression that makes you sing…
Every time you pick up your instrument you should feel a rush of excitement and possibility. Music should inspire this creative spark.
Because really, why else would you want to play music??
When you’re connected to this inner voice you’ll know it. You’ll be filled with inspiration and meaning, and this is where the magic happens. And if it’s not right, that little voice will let you know too.
Along the way, it’s inevitable that you’ll find yourself in the middle of a tough practice session or long project. Instead of losing hope or giving up in frustration, take a moment to remember why you’re doing it. Visualize the end result in your mind and see yourself performing on stage.
Reconnect with that excitement and purpose and keep pushing ahead.
Quiet the voice of criticism
In creative pursuits it’s not outside pressures that we have to worry about, it’s ourselves.
Like it or not, you are your own worst enemy. Try something creative and you’ll encounter an internal voice that will criticize your every move.
“Ahh that solo sucked!”
“Don’t mess up. Don’t play the wrong notes. What if I mess up on stage?”
“My compositions just aren’t good enough…”
Overcoming this internal struggle is one of the main barriers to your creative potential. Because to create in the moment you need to let ideas develop freely, without judgement or consequence.
“When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as “rootless and stemless.” We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don’t condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.” ~The Inner Game of Tennis
Treat your creative ideas like a seed that you’ve planted.
Sure they don’t look like much now, but nurture them and patiently let them grow.
You must resist the urge to criticize yourself and to compare yourself to other people. Your solo may not sound like the ones on your favorite records, your compositions may not stand up to the classics, and you may take longer than most to learn the basics.
But be patient and give yourself time to develop without judgement. Because if you give into this criticism the truth is you’ll run the risk of never creating anything or trying anything new.
Remember, creativity isn’t only for music…
Your creative voice is vital to musical or artistic pursuits.
But that’s not all it’s good for….
Your inner voice will help you in your professional life, your personal life, and anything else you set your mind to.
When you connect with the source of your creativity it’ll make you happier. It will help you find solutions to problems and it will show you how to persevere and be successful. You’ll have a purpose that begins inside of yourself rather than from an outside source.
Remember, humans aren’t made on an assembly line. We all have something to offer, a unique perspective that’s entirely our own. Musicians, scientists, entrepreneurs, designers, writers, teachers… Creativity is the impulse that leads to the creation of great things.
And it all starts with a little voice that’s telling you to be different. A voice that doesn’t want to follow instructions and is looking for a new way to approach the same old things.
Your creative voice is begging you to improvise, you just have to listen.