I was thinking about why we play music…. because it gives life meaning… purpose… joy… connection… It give us something to talk about, and concerts to go to like bugs attracted to shiny lights. Something to do. Something creative. Something of value, that we value. For us, that we can share. Plus, it’s cool. Rocking out is awesome!
Purpose and Identity:
Myles Kennedy, our local hero, said it perfectly: “I don’t want to say music saved me, but it gave me a purpose and helped me figure out who I was, and in that sense, it did save me.” That’s a strong statement. Music helped me figure out who I was (identity), and it continues to do that every day as I become someone new, and hopefully better for it (purpose). Creativity is rewarding in many ways that aren’t obvious at first, and this is one of them. Purpose and a sense of identity are pretty significant rewards! Of course, there must be a significant journey and a challenge for our hero, but that comes later in our story.
Identity and Connection:
Every good hero needs a mythology, and music gives our generation that. In a way, it tells us how to live our lives like mythology told the ancient heroes how to live. It tells us what tribes we belong to. The “rockers”, “metal heads”, “dead heads”, “bass heads”, “punkers”, you know what I mean. You can tell you’re going to have something to talk about by that “cool band” shirt they’ve got on. They must be cool. That’s one of my favorite things about musicians. The shared camaraderie. We have common experiences, and a common language, and that makes it easy to communicate and have fun. Connection. Music gives us connection. This is another way music rewards us that isn’t apparent at first.
Another way is how it makes the passing time light up with meaning and richness. Ask a live music lover about their all time favorite concert and you’ll get a taste. Add to that years and years of life loving the same songs passing by, and noting how your life changes in respect to the music. The music isn’t changing, but you are. This is the battle, and now you’re the hero. Time is passing, and you are growing older, and hopefully more mature, and the feelings you have when you listen to the songs are changing through the years because you are changing. The battle is the grinding years going by. Practice makes progress. Throughout that, you gain perspective on your feelings that’s hard to capture other ways. Music allows a symbolic richness that other forms of expression lack because of how the brain processes it. Emotions are triggered, and experiences transformed by those emotions. When you add time passing, it’s mind blowing. Seeing it expressed in video form helps, so now here’s Elton John!
Joy in Humility:
The thing that most struck me watching that video is how that happens to me all the time. (Not the crowds, but that would be fun!). I see my hands growing older, and younger playing the same songs over and over. I have favorites, that I’ve played for thirty years or more (experience). I still vividly remember learning them, and still feel the same joy. It’s more profound, and deeper, but the joy is the same. I have the first book where I felt like I was starting to play classical music well, and I often teach out of it now. Every time I open it I am transported back to being that child, that total beginner. It’s deeply humbling, because I can remember exactly how difficult it was, and exactly how much discipline it took to learn it. And I sucked. Humbling indeed, and that’s the reward and now I’m the hero. It’s perspective gained from experience, and it’s taught me to recognize how significant those small positive steps of forward motion are. It’s taught me to respect them, cherish them, and cheer for them! For me, that’s been a surprising reward and the end of my heroes journey that I didn’t expect.
Why am I even thinking about this? Because I enjoy music A LOT. I’ve wanted to know why I’m so interested in music, and so I’ve tried to learn about it. Why? Because I want to make the most of that desire and passion for music. Because I want to be able to share that passion for music with other people, because I want them to experience it too. Because it’s awesome!