July 17, 2024

I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do next with music.  I haven’t had a project going for a year or more now and I’ve learned some things in my time off.  First, I’m better with music.  This idea was first really articulated by my wife, but I’ve always kind of known about this for me.  Sometimes a thing needs to get said though, you know?  Music is grounding for me.  I feel better when I’m doing it.  I really do think I’m better with music.  Not that anything is really wrong beyond the kinds of things we all have wrong in our lives, but for me, life with music is just better.

This post is Part 1 of a series:

I haven’t had anything to work towards musically except the occasional short spurt of something.  So sometime I play just for the sake of playing, but this can be hard because it doesn’t really go anywhere.  What I’m saying is that I think I need a goal on the table to help be a driver.  I’ve struggled a lot with this idea… Why if music is so grounding, do I not just do it all the time?  Why is my spare time not filled with sitting around with a guitar?  What I’ve decided is that it has a lot to do with time and energy…and family responsibility too.  We all need to realize something; Physical energy and creative energy are related, but are essentially different things.  You can do things to maximize your body function and your brain function, but you also need to make room  to allow your creativity to kind of fall out.  Sometimes its less of a fall and more of a slow oozing.  The point is, it takes time to get in the creative space mentally.  For me I find an hour at the end of the day just isn’t my best time for creativity. I’m a father of two boys and a husband to one wife.   We have also chosen to live in Okotoks which means an hour long commute each way for work.  So time is short.  I’m not unique with this either.  It’s just kind of how the choices in our life have kind of left us.  And so I find myself in a phase of life where I need to be somewhat calculated about where I invest non-family and non-work time.  I just can’t spend all my time with music these days.  It’s a sad reality, but it is what it is.

Of course this is all about values and priorities too.  We can all change things, but it’s just really hard because when you start looking at things, you realize that many of your choices are connected to your values.  Many of your values are values because they are valuable to you.  (Deep, I know…)  So your life choices strongly associated with your values might not be things you are willing to change.

Back to music…

In my past when I first starting playing music, I’d say musicians play music.  Simple.  Many musicians starting out are young and therefore often have a less routine kind of life.  Because of this, young musicians can kind of have a play anywhere and everywhere approach.  They gather in garages and basements and open mic nights all over the world and just…do it.  They invest time heavily.  This was more my reality in my past as well and maybe I could do that now, but the outcome of this method is always hit and miss.  Yes, you keep your chops up this way, but it’s kind of like the musical equivalent of throwing a handful of pebbles at a target.  Some will hit.  Most wont.

What are the targets in my case?  Well there are three basic ones for most musicians; self-development, self-satisfaction, and the satisfaction of your audience.  Today I find that this play anywhere and everywhere approach is sometimes self-satisfying and sometimes not.  With my time limitations I’m not willing to randomly engage in musical things in the hope to find satisfaction because when it isn’t satisfying, for me it feels like being betrayed by a close friend.  It makes me feel like I have nothing.  I probably feel the lowest when I attempt a musical thing and feel like it’s a miss.  When life is dragging you down and you can’t go to what has always been your escape, it’s highly demotivating and depressing.

I have no audience right now, so I perhaps have an advantage in that I can sort of pick my audience by choosing the band and genre I get into.  That will in effect create an audience.  Unless maybe the band ends up being terrible and the genre indiscernible.  If this ends up being the case, I will continue having no audience!  🙂

As far as self-development goes, I want to get my chops back, but it would be good to also work away at the craft of music making.  I do see it as more of a craft.  I need to refine myself.  Not just in the area of technical ability, but also in area of song writing/choosing/arranging.  Actually, for me I’d say my refinement needs to be more in the area of song writing and arranging.  My technical refinement will come back with practice. Once it does, I’ll look more at taking the technical part to the next level.  I’ll say more about what I think song selection refinement looks like later.

So now I’m looking forward.  No hard plans.  No expectations.  What’s it going to be?  Not sure.  I have some leads; some options.  So what I’m going to do is attempt to create some structure for myself in which I will choose my next musical endeavor.  I write these posts mainly for the exercise of organizing my thinking.  Do I think it will help others?  I’m not sure.  I guess at very least you that choose to read it will get some insight into what goes on in my head these days.  So lets see where this goes.

You can expect two posts coming related to this topic over the next few days.  One will be about the mechanics of band selection and one will be on the mechanics of song selection.

This post is Part 1 of a series: