Saturday, December 17, 2011

Making music

 I like to play the piano and sing. I am far from proficient in either area, but I am trying to improve. Having said that, I realized this week that there has been a subconscious, ongoing debate in my mind about my music for quite some time. The question is, whether my talents, limited as they are, are worth pursuing? I know that unless I dedicate significant time, effort, and possibly money, I will never have the true skill and creativity necessary to merit much attention or praise for them. Given my particular situation and current pursuits in life, these necessary dedications are not likely to happen. Why keep stumbling along with my imperfect, underdeveloped musical talents if I can never rise above mediocrity? Why keep going when I know so many other people who are much more advanced, much more able to express themselves through music than I am? When I think of my many friends, neighbors, and family members who can play piano so much better than I can, sometimes I hesitate to even touch the keys. When I hear people singing with voices they have striven to train and hone and perfect, sometimes I hesitate to open my mouth.

That is the one side of this argument--the devil's-advocate-side, if you will. Yes, the devil's advocate, because we all know what the correct answer to this question is. Of course I should not give up my talents. It would be wasteful, ungrateful, and--well--silly if I did.

I think this little debate has been left under my brain's radar for so long because that's where I usually put an end to this conversation. One side of my mind would ask the question, just as I have written it for you above. And then the other side of my mind would answer so smoothly and quickly, just as I have answered it here, that the matter was closed and pushed aside before I even noticed. But this time, it was different. This time I noticed, and I began thinking more about it. In my considerations, I discovered some new avenues of thought.

If we left all the singing, dancing, painting, sculpting, piano playing, acting, writing, and creating to the professionals, our lives would lose so much meaning. I believe we need this joy of creation because we, in an eternal sense, are meant to be creators. It is our nature--to stop creating would mean an end to much of our happiness. When I speak of creating and beauty, I do not only mean it in the traditional artistic sense. Creativity goes far beyond painting and dancing. It extends to every aspect of our lives: the homes we make, the children we birth, the friendships we forge, the careers we build. There is something about participating in the creation of beauty that gives an irreplaceable joy. The closer and more involved one is in the creation, the more joy and fulfillment we experience. Although my ability to play the piano is far below Jon Schmidt's, I gain far more joy in my imperfect attempts to make beautiful music than I ever would in listening to his albums every day.

It feels nice to conclude this ongoing debate. No, I will not become the next Jon Schmidt or Julie Andrews. But I will continue to make music because I now have a better understanding of why I need it in my life. Though my music is imperfect and full of limitations and mistakes, I will keep trying to improve it, one baby step at a time, gaining more and more joy with each song I play and each note I sing.

1 comment:

  1. I used to play the trombone, and sometimes I feel guilty that I don't play anymore, let alone own one. I used to take piano lessons from my Mom, and I can't believe that I never learned to play beyond the second of third book. I sometimes wonder if I would be any good as an artist or calligrapher, but I never take the time to try. Learn from my mistake; never stop pursuing the talents you enjoy. And besides, I love it when you perform; you sound like John Schmidt or Julie Andrews to me.