How Friends Inform Music (July 1, 2017)

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So this was something I started thinking about a while ago and hit home rather recently after meeting up with and talking to some really close friends for the first time in a few months…how do our friends inform our music?  As musicians and music teachers we often get spoiled, our friends and our peers are built in to our work.  We see the same coworkers and fellow musicians day in and day out and we develop friendships with them, so when we get home at the end of the day, introvert, extrovert, or ambivert…we don’t tend to feel particularly lonely.

What happens when we get out of the microcosm that is school or an ensemble, though?  What happens when, all of a sudden we aren’t around “our people,” anymore?  It’s a massive change and not necessarily an easy one.  While it’s obviously possible (and I believe necessary) to have non-musical friends, they tend to be the people we develop the closest relationships with and when they aren’t two feet away from us in rehearsal anymore we get lonely for these specific individuals.

So what does that mean for our music and our performance?  I can only share my personal experiences, but, like I’ve said, I hope they help you.  We all have specific close bonds to people, frequently ones who live half way across the country…or the world.  We some times get lonely for these specific individuals, but is that a bad thing?

I read a quote from a runner once who stated that her motivation to get up and run every morning was to dedicate her runs to the people she cared about.  One run would be dedicated to her mom, one to her dad, one to her brother, etc.  It gave her the motivation and the drive to get through a twenty mile training run.

Missing the specific people with whom we are particularly close, can actually be really positive for that and less selfish reasons.  Sometimes that longing needs a medium to come out and music can be that perfect expression.  In a way, that sort of motivation is one of the sweetest dedications we can give to someone we love.  Like, “HEY! This is a part of my heart and soul and I’m playing for you today, ya’ big weirdo!”

The real fire of this idea of dedicating a practice session to someone you love often comes, I think, from when we get to see and talk to our good friends.  You probably all know the saying: “sometimes all the therapy you need is coffee with your best friend.”  Sometimes all the inspiration you need is a long talk with your best friends.  That can spur and inspire you to take a renewed interest in your art form.

That’s not to say we all languish away without these important people, but they definitely help motivate and inspire us, if only because we know, no matter how many heartbreaks we suffer, how many auditions we lose, and how many times we fall flat on our faces, they will support us and they will be our loudest cheering section when we succeed and reach our goals.  Of course we want to make these people proud (though, we don’t have to, they’re typically there without us needing to do anything), we love them and they love us, so we work and sometimes we put our friendships into our music.  Sometimes, that sort of love is what makes what we do worth it.

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