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Music Life: 01 - Creative and Everyday Can Co-Exist
By Brian Donovan - 04/14/2008 - 04:26 PM EDT

See, as a creative person, myself a musician, I've always seen my music AS my life instead of an incredibly enriching part OF my life.  It's challenging to balance my two sides: the creative side that can sit in a room all day, alone, writing music, and the rational side that reminds me of my needs to eat, pay bills, spend time with family and friends and even use the bathroom.  (Yes, many a day I had gotten out of bed, and entered my studio to record a quick idea, only to emerge, what I thought were minutes later, to find the sun had set, I was completely famished and in desperate need of the facilities.)

All of that is mere child's play though compared to the feeling you have when you know you've created something from nothing.  Something that can explain part of your soul.  But we can't lock ourselves in a room for eternity and create.  It's impossible.  Here's why: after a while, your inspiration will dwindle, and your creative spark will dry up.  Why?  Have you heard of art imitating life?  Well, believe me, that old adage is very real.  Yet some musicians will misinterpret their art AS their life as opposed to part OF it.

Now, when was the last time you wrote a killer tune?  For most of us, the muse came to visit right after we parted ways with out last boyfriend/girlfriend.  This makes sense.  All of a sudden, you've got an enormous amount of emotions welling up inside you and a heap o' free time left by their absence.  So, we sit down to write:

My girl has left me
And she don't even care
How I am feelin'
My life is now so bare

Okay, I'm sure we're all in agreement that these lyrics suck.  What now?!

What now? - Go live your life.  If you had read a book instead of sheddin' scales for hours, you'd now have more words and phrases in your head to choose from.  If you had gone to see a movie with your significant other, perhaps a line from that movie would inspire a better lyric.  (In fact, a little side note: if you had taken your partner to more movies in the first place, maybe they wouldn't have just kicked you to the curb.)

I can't tell you how many times I got an idea from an interesting sign, a line from a movie, or hearing a stranger speak about something that I had no prior interest in.  Are all these ideas good?  Absolutely not!  But allowing yourself to create crap, then giving yourself time to weed out bad ideas are 2 topics I'll touch on in the future.  Suffice it to say right now that you should be open to ideas from anywhere.  And you must go live your life in order to take in the multitude of those sources.

I very clearly remember one evening during music college.  A large group of us were all in our individual soundproof booths in the basement of the dorm: practicing, practicing, practicing.  You'd swear that a representative from Carnegie Hall was showing up in the morning to look for whoever held out the longest.  But what made this particular night memorable for me was the Resident Director.  Not a teacher, just an official dorm 'employee' who understood that it was friday night in Boston's Back Bay and we were all in our early 20's!  Ummm, Hello?  He opened up every single practice room door and told us all to go out for the night, he then shut off the electricity to the basement so none of us could see our sheet music.

So, should we really take time from our endless pursuit of capturing that perfect moment of creativity just to live our lives so we might fuel our creative fires?  YES!  No one wants to listen to a song about how you practice 8 hours a day.  Do you have to put down your axe once in a while to make that happen?  Unfortunately, yeah...

Next time, we'll look at ways to "be okay" with the idea that you're not practicing all the time.

Until then, appreciate the horizon...

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