We’ve all been there. A frustrating practice session where nothing seems to go right. Not wanting to even think about your instrument after a long day. Feeling doubt and wondering why you even bother anymore. Losing an audition. And a million other reasons being a musician ain’t for the weak.
So why do it?
Hopefully, you still enjoy playing your instrument. It can be so easy to get caught up in the details, competition, and drudgery that being a musician entails. Take a few moments each day to remind yourself what you love about your instrument. Or maybe you don’t love it anymore – life is too short to pursue activities that don’t make you happy. Granted, being a musician isn’t always sparkles, roses, and applause, but you should be able to find some sort of enjoyment most of the time.
Make some time each day to include your musical happiness. For me, one of my musical “guilty pleasure” is solo repertoire. I could spend hours playing through different clarinet solos and browsing online music retailers looking for new titles to add to my collection. So I make time each day to listen to or read through new pieces. If you like jazz, make some time for jazz. If you like playing duets, get some friends together and have a duet jam! Find musical happiness every day. Applaud yourself for your musical accomplishments. Don’t be too hard on yourself. After all, we are just musicians. We aren’t curing cancer or stopping wars, but I like to think we can change the world in our own little way. If you can bring a smile to even one person’s face, your job as a musician is accomplished. It’s not about getting every single note perfect (although that won’t stop me from trying!), but making a musical impression is what it’s all about.
I’m going to get serious for a second here. It’s been exactly one week since the terrorist attacks here in Paris. I had just finished a not-so-stellar practice session. I was working on the Francaix Concerto for a performance this weekend, and I was frustrated at a few technical passages I just couldn’t seem to get. That’s when I got a text from a friend back in the States saying that there was a shooting in Paris (at Le Petit Cambodge). Everyone knows what happened after that. I stayed up all night with my new-found friends scouring the Internet for news and updates and making sure all our friends in Paris were accounted for. The entire time, I kept thinking how ridiculous it was for me to be worried about a piece of music as I watched the horror unfurl through Paris. And that reminder has stood close by in the week since the attacks. It’s just music. That doesn’t mean it’s insignificant, but we shouldn’t take it too seriously.
Bottom line: always remember why you’re doing what you do. Find happiness in ordinary moments. Have fun with music again. Find joy in the music. Play from the heart. Share your musical happiness with others.