Get lessons or coaching

I teach in Oregon City and online videochat. I work with all ages and levels and a variety of styles. I specialize in creative exploration, the psychology of music, and conscious music practices. Visit the lessons page to learn more.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Improvisation on Chapman Stick, thoughts on creativity

When I was young, I was thrilled by each lesson I learned, each discovery I made in the course of my musical development. When I found a new chord I liked or composed a piece of a melody, I thought it was the greatest thing ever. I was inspired to flesh out full compositions for each idea.

Eventually, I learned so many forms and tricks that I had far more ideas than time to work on them all. Then something shifted. I realized that I was able to easily come up with an infinite number of ideas and quickly. That awareness made each idea less special, and I was less motivated to develop them. My compositional output dropped, even as I became a more skilled musician.

At a more mature level, motivation comes from deeper purpose. Instead of working on ideas for their own sake, I consider particular goals such as expressing something or teaching a particular concept. Still, being more knowledge of all the possibilities, it is far more time-consuming to realize the ever-more-detailed ideas in my imagination.

I miss the pure, creative drive I used to have. I probably can't return to my childhood experience of seeing almost everything as novel; but I can just decide to sit down and create something with the limited time I have and learn to accept that it won't be perfect.

Here's a product of this effort, an impromptu improvisation on Chapman Stick:

This wasn't the most satisfying achievement, but it feels better to have done it than not. I still hope to find the optimal perspective and situation that will get me back to really enthusiastic inspiration. Perhaps I will find that in collaborative settings, in graduate school or elsewhere... But for now, I intend to keep making music where I am.