Last week we considered three areas of engagement and practice to help you work through the plunders and plateaus that may plague your pursuit of a career in music. The overarching concept is based on looking at your life as a piece of music or other art form in terms of movement, rhythms, patterns, shifts of focus, shadow and light.
We examined the areas of energize, socialize, and humorize (or humor-wise) as platforms for engagement, practice, and exploration to help you fight through the blues and cluttered stages of stagnation.
With the practice of “energize,” you were encouraged to have activities and music at your disposal to offset negative responses to disappointment, frustration, and the plateaus you’ll have to endure. The activity may also spark fresh ideas, new perspectives, new songs, new stylistic approaches, while enhancing image issues and overall fitness.
The practice of “socialize,” invited you to get out with others, including three people you will see at least once a week either as a group or one on one. You were encouraged to find a social haven and create a theme song or song sets to associate with each of your three contacts, along with a separate song for your chosen hangout. With “humorize,” you seek out resources for comic relief that can help rescue you from the blues or gloomy, self-destructive behavior.
So now it’s time to consider the final three areas of engagement or practice that will help you maintain optimal health through tough times of slow-motion, no-motion, and potentially negative emotional acting out.
The next area of focus is referred to as “improvise,” and it’s a variation on the childhood practice of make believe fused with the ageless convenient habit of making things up as you along.
With improvisation in theater, you take a situation and create a scene based on a setting, conflict, characters, objectives, and whatever else you’re given to build on.
For the purpose of pushing through tough times, improvise as it applies to this practice means making do or getting by with what you have at your disposal.
You still need structure to make this work, but the guidelines for this practice are very loose. One of the goals in each of these is to relieve stress and restore a positive sense of freedom and fun.
Make The Most Of What You Have
So the main objective for improvise is to create something you enjoy out of what you have at your disposal. Start the practice by calling up a few friends to invite them over for dinner. This is not to go out, but to stay in and entertain.
For the dinner, you have to make something out of what you have on hand. However, as part of the improvisation, you ask the friend or friends to bring over specific ingredients or items that they have on hand that they’d like to bring. The meal that’s served will be pulled together by what you and your friends have at your respective disposal.
But there is also an entertainment factor. Each person is to bring two songs to sing or play. You are to have two songs at your disposal as well. Once the guests arrive and the ingredients gathered, you work together as a team to pull the meal together.
After dinner, each guest is to perform the song they want to share the most. After the round of chosen songs is performed, the next objective is for everyone break up into groups of two and teach the other song to someone else. Of course, if it’s just you and another guest, it’ll be easy.
The point of this dinner activity is to literally make the most of something when there is little to work with, and to enjoy each others’ company as you have fun pulling things together.
Sharing your song validates your voice as a singer, songwriter, or performer; while teaching and learning a song stimulates creativity in a non-threatening, nurturing environment.
Spur Of The Moment
The improvise concept when applied to a full weekend invites you to engage in as many spontaneous activities as possible with a minimum amount of hassle and financial investment. Your goal is to do things in your home, neighborhood, or around the block that are spur-of-the-moment and gratifying for yourself and others. It could be something as simple as checking in on a neighbor and letting them hear your latest songs or ideas for your band.
Improvisation in any form reminds you that the positive potential for life exists even when the gigs aren’t happening or you feel stuck at a creative plateau or impasse. When you improvise, you stimulate creative juices, coping mechanisms, and will likely find yourself much more hopeful and encouraged about what’s coming up once things turn around.
The next practice, to “romanticize,” sounds sappy and sickening sweet and can be if you’re into that. But seriously, romanticize means to indulge time “figuratively” with an artist or group of artists that move you.
To begin, you are to treat yourself to time alone with a group of your favorite artists. You start by putting together a play list of music from four of your favorite singers, singer-songwriters, or bands.
You will then listen to the concert you create, in the intimate surrounding of your choice. You might decide to have a picnic in the local park and listen to the music on headphones. You might decide to go to the beach or sit out in your backyard underneath a starry sky.
The point is to choose your favorite music, arrange the pieces as you wish, choose a special setting, and indulge a favorite meal or snack and beverage. The goal is to pamper yourself as you honor those that inspire you.
After the concert, sit down and reflect on the impact each artist has on you. Make note of any pieces that you’ve written or composed that have been inspired by them, and note any of their material you’ve performed. Give thanks for their being a part of your artistic endeavor.
Be Peers With Heroes
In a future engagement where you “romanticize,” include your own original material or vocals in the play-set. After the concert experience is over, evaluate your part in the set and how your work stacks up by either holding its own, not quite measuring up, or even surpassing the performance of your favorite artists. This is a healthy, positive way to reaffirm your musical gifts.
It’s also recommended that you learn as much as you can about the challenges, setbacks, trials, and triumphs faced by the artists you’ve chosen. Let your imagination run wild as you look forward to the day when they will kick back and get pumped up by your gifts.
The third and final area of practice, that is to “spiritualize.” This is vital to your survival and staying power whether you’re slipping beneath rock bottom or hovering over heaven’s door.
Your spirit or sense of soul requires daily refreshment. It is that well from which you draw your faith in your gift, along with a sense of showing your gratitude by giving your very best to refine it and share it. It is the heart of belief that keeps a warm firelight shining deep down inside when things turn dark or downright frigid.
It is important to surround yourself with at least three friends that share a reverence for music, the arts, and creativity and also feed and support your love and respect for life.
The key thing to remember about any gift is that it wasn’t chosen, it was given. You make a choice to nurture, develop, strengthen, and share the gift. The receipt of your gift is transcended in the giving away. In other words, when you share your music, it becomes a unique gift for each individual listener or audience member.
Take Care Of Your Gift
Accept responsibility for your gift, care for it, nurture it, be grateful, and share it. Be part of a community that reinforces your views on “giftedness” so that when hard times come you’ll power through with patience, perseverance, and hopefully have a viable, profitable career as a singer, singer-songwriter, band member, or performer.
Remember when things are going tough, rough, or nowhere fast, you can choose to energize, socialize, humorize, improvise, romanticize, or spiritualize. We hope these six areas of activity will serve you well and help you weather the storms of disappointment. We aslo hope these practices have some measure in helping you take a stronger stand and beam a little brighter as you secure your unique place in the world of music.