Who are we? Why does it matter?
(NOTICE: Read last blog before this to have a better understanding)
We all have a reason we started an art, a craft, a career choice. We all have our own experiences, and we all have our own opinions and views on life, Art, ourselves, respect, and the list goes on and on. It’s just who we are. So let me tell you a little story about how i got into music.
So my mom is a pianist. She grew up with loving parents whom introduced her to music at a young age. She grew to appreciate it, love it and now she teaches piano at a music academy here in Ottawa. At the age of i say around eleven, she brought me to one of the academies in Abu Dhabi, and had me wait for her to finish teaching before we went back home, (who needs babysitters am i right?), but the point is that this is where i first heard (surprisingly) the playing of a Violin. I have never been introduced to classical music let alone music before this time in my life (does the theme song to Teletubbies count?). I didn’t think anything of it to be completely honest. My mom always loved the Violin and she encouraged me to give it a go. I actually said no. We ended up moving to Ottawa the next year and in middle school i had to play an instrument and weirdly enough….. I chose the Violin. The rest is history. I got into an arts program in high school, switched to the Viola in grade 12, auditioned for schools, got in, and now i’m here in my home studio talking to you living a life filled with happiness and love for what i get to practice and comprehend everyday of my life.
The reason i tell this story is because, we all have a history. We all have a reason we do what we do, we all fell in love with our career for a reason and we all take pride in our lives for a reason. Now for me personally, music has always been (as i’m sure millions of people can agree on) a way of self expression. Growing up playing guitar in bands I’ve been introduced to lyric writing,(this conveys emotions through words), then studio recording: (this conveys emotions through the understanding of balance within sound through EQ and Compression etc etc), and now classical music : the conveying of feeling through phrases, timbre, dynamics, repertoire and overall sound approach.
Now, we have all been through some sort of experience that made us feel upset, or a lone, or depressed. A lot of people turn to some form of art (not playing, just watching or listening) to change how they feel. This usually changes your current state. Why? Well, without going into explaining the Cerebellum, the Amygdala and Hippocampus (parts of the brain affected by this, that's a post for another day) this is what i call “Sharing one’s world”: connecting with people through similar feelings and viewpoints.
I have a friend who absolutely adores music. Her actual playing isn’t as advanced as she so thinks. In second year university you are required to play in a jury (kind of like an exam), and after that jury the judge's tell you if you are “good enough” to get into the performance program or if you need to apply for education, musicology, theory history etc etc. As you can probably tell, this can get stressful if you are late to the game. So we were talking about it/seeing how to approach practicing to prepare for it, and this concept of showing who you are came up (she is by far one of the main reasons i decided to get into this research and writing so thank you to her for giving me this wake up call).
I said something like this:
“Imagine i don’t know who you are. We meet for the first time with you on stage, holding your viola, bow on the string and sheet music infront of you. Now you play. Automatically things come to mind: how you stand, are you smiling? Do you love what you do? Are you nervous? Are you proving something? Why? Are you confident? Who are you”? Etc etc
The last one was the main one.
Who are you?
Subconsciously we are made (again, however you like to take that word is up to you) to react, to influence, to think, to feel, and to act on. Now throughout all of our lives we have reacted to situations, we have influenced people and have been influenced by people, we have thought about ourselves and others, and we have acted through our feelings. All this makes up who we are. That is our world. Every time you interact with someone, this world opens up just a little bit, things fire out and are sucked into the receiver’s world, which in the end influences them and forms some sort of connection between the both of you.
Now, since we have all had our experiences, we all do and feel little things that are relatable with others, David J. Liviten explains this in “Your brain on music” (another good book).. When we think of our parents who went through the process of making us we remember the fact that our DNA and genes are made up of 50% from each parent. At the end of the day two different people made an individual, both being DIFFERENT people with their own way of life and habits and together made something new. Both are caregivers and both are people. Just like if you have a green apple and a red apple, at the end of the day they are both apples. They both have the foundation of being apples. This is called “Categorization”. Now i say this because when it comes sharing your musical ability and musical passion and viewpoints; we all have our own “DNA”. We all perform, think and feel slightly different from one another, that’s just what makes us human. We are all living people with the same foundation: we all breathe, think, react, feel, smell, see, touch the same way (of course there’s the exception of some disabilities ). All this categorizes us into the category of “human”. Now since we are all human we aren’t all identical as far as our DNA as we know, and that means we all have something different to share, and we all have similar viewpoints on little things in our life (as mentioned earlier). That is the gist of how connecting with someone works! You share a part of you that may be similar with someone else, they see it/feel it, connect to it and that creates some sort of bond.
Now when we play or perform, we show all of this, nerves can constrict this sometimes and make it harder to let the feelings come out to people’s disposal. It can make us seem (as the performer) “UN talented” or “UN musical”. Nerves usually constrict our playing ability, which constricts our technique, which constricts how we play, making everything just crash down and the end result is never the same. Now as this is a definite issue with performers (that's a blog for another day) the intent is still there. Just like the the dancing of the little ten year old girl, the intent was still there.
Now of course we all get nervous and we all have things going on in our lives that can validate any sort of response or thought process that change our playing or approach to performing, but at the end of the day the intent is still there. You still have things in your world that make you who you are, practice a craft, and something that made you connect with that specific craft earlier in your life sometimes even at the age of 3 or 4.
Now i’d really like to go deep into the science behind playing and loving music at a young age compared to older people, as well as how brain development affects our approach, as well as some more Genetics involved in how we play and act and respond the way we do. Music influences everything we do, and it correlates to every part of our being. This can involve: our spiritual side, our Physical appearance, our mental state, our emotional response to things and especially our way of life.
I'm also in the process of creating a mind map showing, visually, the connections between social interaction, social practices with music performing and music interaction. It’s all the same in the end, but it is insanely complex to understand yet so simple.
Hope you enjoyed this blog, I’ll see you guys in the next one!