New York is considered to be the home of some of the most hard working and skilled musicians around the world (when they are not busy touring) which is why it’s so common for aspiring artist to move here or live here for a chapter. After finishing my contract on “The Adventure of the Seas” and spending some time in Detroit, I’ve landed in the big apple and to say it’s affecting me is an understatement. The amount of skilled musicians is overwhelming and it’s a challenge not to feel like a tiny tiny fish in this dense ocean of musical mastery.
As a pattern seeking being I’m looking to find key themes that players here share; be it in their attitudes, their career paths or even their lifestyle choices. After being here for a mere eight days, I am surprised at how welcoming the community has been to me and how much I’ve already learned. Below I’ve outlined three keys themes I’ve taken away from my journey here so far in regards to being a master musician.
Interestingly these themes are common traits found in anyone I respect (regardless of occupation) and the person I hope to someday become.
Doing it for the right reasons
They are not doing it for money, fame, success, they are doing it for the music, the journey, the challenge, the experience. They are doing it because it’s where their curiosity has lead them, they are following their heart. I respect that so damn much. Being a creative in any field is generally not supported as much as we would like and it takes a lot of energy and persistence to gather the momentum needed to make something sustainable.
It’s really got me thinking about what my drive for music is and is pushing me to dig deeper.
Having “your own thing”
Now this may seem trivial as the consequence of existing means you inherently have “your own thing”, but the skill of being able to let go and authentically express your voice on your instrument is not as common as one would presume. The guys who are successfully doing this are creating real art – not some programmed mechanics internalised over time. This can either be for their own projects or when they’re hired so they can contribute “their thing” to someone else’s “thing”, so together they can make that “thing” an even better “thing”….get it?
It takes a lot of courage to truly trust your voice even when no one else does, and there are a lot of guys here that do that, and man are they really contributing – I’m hoping some magic will rub off on me…
Not trying too hard
This is a big theme in my life at the moment and it was really interesting hanging with Nate Wood when he brought up his latest approach to practice/performing being something a long the lines of “not trying at all”. For example he would not “try” to grip the stick, but simply cradle it. His prime goal is to just focus on listening, but also, not “try” to listen – just listen.
Of course we all go through these periods of trying to not try, and for those of you who have read Kenny Werner’s “Effortless Mastery” will understand the dilemma of trying to not try and inevitably…trying.
The point is this seems to be a life long journey, but what I’ve noticed is the players who tend to look and feel so comfortable on stage have clearly spent time working at this process – that is the process of letting go and being totally present in the moment.
For those of you who have questioned visiting New York to see the music and absorb the quality of musicianship, I say do it. Sure, it’s not cheap and the lifestyle is very fast paced, but the value of seeing these guys up close, getting to chat to them one on one and being brutally humbled, is immeasurable. Not to mention the pure experience of being forced to dig deeper as a musician, and a human being.
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