Talking to a friend of mine who was bemoaning the state of acoustic music. He maintains that the bar has been lowered and that people don’t really celebrate excellence anymore, they celebrate whatever is familiar and will not challenge them emotionally or intellectually. He says that they don’t want to think and that my trying to say something to actually impact the world is a waste of time.
Yes it was quite a cheerful conversation, but it got me to thinking.
When I do this thing I do: write songs, practice, book gigs, slave over recordings, record my shows and critique them so that I can be better next time; who am I doing this for?
I know that I make my living doing this, so I ‘m certainly doing it partially for the money. But the fact of the matter is, if I just wanted money I could go into banking or the stock market or lawyering. Something that focuses just on that one thing—making money.
My deal is I would like to make money doing what it is I do, but that’s not why I do it.
Am I practicing and taking lessons to be a better player so more folks will come to my shows; so that I’ll make more money; so that people will like me better?
I do this because this is what I’ve chosen to do with my life. And once that choice is made, I want to be the best at it that I can be. And that’s because doing the best you can at anything gives you a sense of satisfaction, self worth and accomplishment.
So in the end, I’m writing the best songs I know how; practicing as much as I do; slaving over the recordings; booking myself and my duet shows for one person only…myself.
Between basic expertise and phenomenal virtuosity is a vast area. And that vast area cannot truly be recognized by the general audience.
I have worked hard enough and I’m musical enough to know that musicians appreciate what I do. They know what it takes to get to where ever it is I am.
But I am not a virtuoso, so all I can do is to keep practicing and performing and getting better and better at it, all the while never arriving at that place of satisfaction.
The old adage is true.
The more you learn the more you realize how much there still is to learn.
Ignorance is bliss.
If you don’t believe me, just look at the smile on the face of so very many performers these days.
They don’t know how great they aren’t.
Maybe that’s true of all of us?