September 10th, 2019
Music as an expression of_
This is the first written post on my series dealing with musician’s injuries. Through this, I hope to reach those who might be struggling with similar issues. It’s important to mention that these thoughts are just my personal experience, so feel free to disagree. However, if you learn one thing out of all this, it's worth doing it.
But first, I have to get philosophical on this first one. I believe understanding this concept can truly free us as artistic beings.
There is a general social trend for people to identify much of themselves with what they do for a living. After all, our main activities shape a big bulk of our choices, the use of our time, the people that surround us and many other things. For musicians, it is common to hear phrases that gravitate around the idea of “music is my life”, or “I live for music”. While some might consider this proof of true dedication to the art, I strongly believe this mentality is unhealthy in the long run.
Hear me out - in an ideal world, we all get to pick what we want to do for the rest of our lives. We work hard, build goals and dreams. But life happens. Reality happens. And with that, accidents happen. What happens to your mental state if let’s say, suddenly you were not able to make music anymore?
My professor once told me something that took some time to click. In short, it was: “The arts exist as part of Humanities. Humanities represent expression. Music and the guitar are simply our means of expression”.
I cannot emphasize this enough. Music is a form of art. Art is a component of life. Your life does not equal music. You can choose to express amazing aspects of life through music. But just as well you could do it through movement, words, a canvas, or a motorcycle...! Life is infinitely more complex than the act of making music.
You also do not have to make music in order to enjoy music. Music does not have to leave your life. But ultimately, it is life itself that dictates the making of music, not the opposite. If more of us understood this, I believe far less tragedies would happen.
I was almost sure I would never play guitar again. Not at a performance level, at least. The thought terrified me: most everything I identified with until that moment had to some degree, a connection to the guitar. I was somehow sure this was the end, but the end of what exactly, I did not know. How could my life continue, when my life was only about music?
It took time to let go and understand, even with promising signs of recovery. In fact, it was the moment I let go of my desire for a life dedicated to music and started focusing on my connection to life itself that the healing process started to truly unfold!
I believe this is the key for building a healthy relationship to our instruments, and with that, music. Your soul lives to express naturally; at first without an instrument. A wizard only uses a wand to channel the energy that already lives inside, for lack of a better analogy. On one hand it is admirable that you chose to dedicate a large portion of your time perfecting the craft of making music. On the other it could be dangerous to justify your entire existence by it.
Music as an expression of life: the richer your life is, the bigger the inspiration pool music draws its source from. It is our multitude of experiences: gain, loss, grief, awe, sorrow, joy, solitude, passion, confusion, and love; that bring value to life and translate so beautifully into music.