Imagine that you are a professional soccer player. What steps would you take to make sure you played consistently at your prime without injury? You’d make sure your body was in shape. In order to have the right fuel for your body, you would monitor what you ate and make sure to eat healthily. To prevent injury, you would warm up before every single work out or game. You would also stretch before and after you played religiously. Part of your maintaining your health would likely include taking vitamins and supplements to ensure that your body had what it needed to be strong and replenish itself. If you wanted to build muscle and recover from training, you would want to sleep as much as possible. You would take breaks in between exercises and you would take days off so as not to overdo it. If you didn’t take all of these steps? You would get injured. You would be tired. You would not be primed to heal. If you didn’t warm up, you might pull a muscle. If you didn’t stretch after a workout, you would be sore. If you didn’t take time off, you would overdo it and injure yourself.
What do musicians do? We use our arms for hours on end. To be at our prime, we not only need to prepare physically, but mentally. We must have our body primed correctly for this type of muscle use, and we must take certain precautions to avoid injury, just like an athlete.
Get the point? If you are a musician, then YOU ARE AN ATHLETE.
For years now, I have struggled with the fact that competition is often a large part of the music business. But it took me until now that it has absolutely NOTHING to do with music itself, unless you make it that way. One thing I absolutely hate is when people play music in order to impress people. You know what it usually ends up sounding like? Like a bunch of immature crap. Take a soccer player for instance (soccer happens to be one of my other loves). The greatest players are fully capable of using all the tricks in the book, but they only use them when necessary. They are team players, meaning they do what is best for the team, rather than doing a bunch of moves to get the crowd going and going for goal themselves even if a better opportunity exists for another player. Music is just like soccer. You have to play what is best for the music, not what is best for yourself. The mature musician saves his tricks for the right moment rather than spewing them all over the place to get a reaction from the crowd. Too many musicians end up being the immature soccer player! How does this all relate to competition? Well, the reason people turn into show-offs is because they feel competitive! Forget competition when you’re playing music. That’s NOT EVEN CLOSE to what your music should be about. Play music to evoke emotion. Play music to send a message. Play music because you LOVE PLAYING MUSIC.