Playing music is serious business. I think this is the logical conclusion from the Bobby McFerrin video in yesterday’s post.  McFerrin is showing us idea is that music is a powerful thing.  My thought right now is that music is in fact so powerful, so influential (in physics, emotions, etc), that perhaps we can/should view it as a weapon, rather than the typical perception of music as “entertainment.”  There are a number of ways that the weapon analogy for music is more helpful.

As far as I can tell, entertainment produces the same effect on my mind as a toy.  So, if I’m looking at music as entertainment, pretty soon the whole thing is just a glorified toy.  And nobody takes toys seriously.

BUT MUSIC IS NOT A TOY.  Toys don’t have deep impact on your emotions.  Toys don’t make you think about the world in a fresh way.  Toys don’t give you goose bumps.  On the negative, toys don’t make you feel awkward or intimidated or deeply sad.

No, music is not a toy… it is an art form.  And art, historically, is powerful.  Art affects people for both good and bad.  It can help them, and it can hurt them.  It can encourage them, and it can depress them.  Art can rejuvenate someone, but it can also break them down.  Toys don’t do any of this.

My point in all of this is to make clear that being a musician is something we should take seriously.  We, as musicians, are basically holding a huge and very sharp axe.  We could use it to cut the firewood we need in the winter, or a fireman could use it to chop down the door that has someone trapped in a burning building, or any number of other important and helpful tasks. But a dude recklessly swinging a sharp axe around can also inadvertently cut someone’s finger off.

When I sit down at my instrument I want to use it to help people, which means I have to pay attention and be careful.  I have to take things seriously.  THIS DOES NOT MEAN I DON’T HAVE FUN.  I would rather play my drums than do almost anything else in the world.  And this does not mean that I take MYSELF overly seriously either.  It’s not about me.  A musician playing music has the potential to connect with the audience in a very potent and transformative way.  That connection is what it’s all about.

So have fun… strive to connect with your audience in a way that benefits them… and don’t take yourself too seriously.  But take what you are doing very seriously.  Practice, prepare, focus… TRY HARD.  Remember that you are holding a powerful tool/weapon.

Because playing music is serious business.