“It was very well played.
Now, try playing it in another way this time, just because you can.”
These are the words of Itzhak Perlmann, the greatest emperor of the 21st-century violin world, that I was repeatedly reminded of when I used to be in school.
I was pretty lucky with teachers who always trained students to think outside of the box and strive to take what they were doing up to the next levels (including my last teacher who shared the quote above with me frequently).
Whenever we as musicians create something out of the same source, it will, however, always come out somewhat better differently each time.
Why? Because music gives itself a countless number of possibilities to transform itself, and we WANT it to.
Simple as that.
Music is too emotionally involved for us to logicalize or rationalize it to know whether it’s better or not.
Think of it like cooking a cake.
Couldn’t you experiment with a different amount of sugar, milk, eggs or powders. Or adding a different fruit on top. Or a different combination of them. Or different amount of time baking it in the oven (although you could probably try to cook it exactly the same way every time if you wanted)?
I’m damn sure you could try out all sorts of things.
But of course, it’s your choice (at the end of the day) 🙂
Different, not “better”
We know this concept around here in our community.
All my teachers understand this and make sure that their students get it too.
So do I.
They were able to challenge the process of learning that was (and still is) so under-developed nowadays.
It’s like our “secret code”. It’s our language.
But if you take a look around you, how many do you see exercising this in their everyday-life?
And better yet, how many of them challenge themselves the way they make music even when it works out to their satisfaction?
The answer is: almost NONE.
Instead, they focus on things like: “Who makes bigger sound than me?”, “Who has better instrument than mine?”, “Who wears better dress/outfit on stage than I do?”
And they just keep comparing themselves and competing with others forever.
All the while the music is as dry as the Sahara.
I couldn’t be more fed up when I’m forced to watch everyone play Tschaikovsky concerto the same way all the time. (Is it just me??)
This is stupid.
Don’t compare or compete.
What do I think and do when I perform the same music for the 2nd time, 6542783rd time and so on?
Here’s how I re-frame it:
“Hmm…, this music is extremely interesting and profound. What is it really saying and what is it not saying? How many interpretations can I find of it? How unique does it get without contradicting the original thought of its composer?”
And then I come up with different possible ways for it to manifest itself.
The best part? When you make one small change, it will likely lead to another and suddenly everything will begin to change significantly because the proportion has changed over the course.
Unfortunately the society today doesn’t reward you for this thinking.
Most of them have some negative association with diversity and freak out with the idea of being different or unique.
It’s a world dominated by the social media and mainstream education system which conditions many families and friends to pressure everyone to go to the same school, to live in the same city or town, to think like everyone else and be “a good polite person” like everyone else.
About the 95% of the schools are like factories where all 500 students need to be the same white Toyota cars produced. (I’m truly sad that motivations of those really smart and talented ones are often killed by such nonsense)
Because of this, they think that change or difference is bad. And they’re afraid of anything or anyone changing.
I challenge you…
To want to do things differently.
To embrace the difference.
To astound the world with a unique brand of your creativity.
Because look, it’s that time of year again.
When people start making new claims.
When they start making a gigantic “to-do list”.
When they start looking for new trends or ideas.
All for wrongfully doing and being the same as everyone else and competing in the same race, with materialistic stuff like “numbers” being the only important judging factor of a person.
They miss out on the most primary thing of all – that is deep, unique emotional connection of the composer, the player and the audience.
Remember, it’s not about being/making it better.
It’s not about comparing yourself to others.
It’s about being grateful to what uniquity gives our life.
On that note, let’s crush this year, shall we? 🙂