Ahh, live music. As it's being created with all of it's beauty and all of it's faults, unedited, for good or bad. Recorded music if amazing. To be able to catch lightning in a bottle and put a stopper on it. Then take that lightning and twist and turn it so the beauty of the bolt shines and the clap of the thunder is reproduced without any annoying lag or delay. Edited so that they are reproduced every time in shining glory for us to enjoy over and over again as many times as we wish. The joy of the moment is lost and robbed from the experience. The delay between light and sound, the surprise of the enormous crack as it washes over your bones. That's emotion to be savored because it will never happen again. The true experience can never be captured. "You had to be there, man."
Live music can be experienced in two ways. You can be in the audience and enjoy what is draped over you like fine silk or rough burlap. Creating an emotional reaction that will fall anywhere our mind will allow us to go. Happy, sad, scared, tense, funny or everywhere in-between and outside the lines.
Live music. To create! Holy cow. Me? Up in front of others? Some folks I know and others are, well…strangers. You want me to expose myself to the possibility of ridicule, hate, indifference? My emotions could be scraped raw if I don't receive positive reinforcement for my actions. What if I screw up?
Yes. That's what I want you to do.
That's cruel of you to ask such a thing. No, it's not. What about the possibility of applause (very likely because most people are generally nice) kind words, encouragement, to be told "That took the stuff I don't have, you couldn't get me up there." and an incredible rush of emotion before and during a performance that only those who have taken a step onto a stage will ever know. A palpable fear, that many have, before ever walking in front of even one person. To perform with your chosen instrument, the guitar, and one you may not have chosen but need to use, you voice, and for a moment in time lay it out there.
The three stages, before, during and after. Ask any performer and they will tell you of how distinct each stage is and how quickly they change. In the end there will be a rush of emotion that is addictive for many but present for all. If you have gone and taken the leap, the true leap and laid it all out and created and played with pure honesty and used everything you have to create your art, then you will find the truest response. It doesn't need to come from whoever saw or heard it but instead from your heart and mind and soul. That is when you will play your best. Wait, did you misunderstand me? Did I ever use the word perfect or mistake proof? No I did not. When you leap off the safe place and expose all of your soul through your music then mistakes are part of it. Perfection is for no one. At least I have never met a perfect person. If what you really gave was your soul through your music in the most honest way and straight from your brain to your fingers and tongue then it will reveal itself to anyone who was present. You cannot hide a true performance but you can see a walkthrough.
Wait, did you get the impression that there had to be bystanders? I am sorry if you got that impression but that's wrong. Make the call. Meet someone new who makes music. Then make the creative effort to play and collaborate together. You will find amazing knowledge when working with another and showing off what you know and learning some of what they know. Will it work out every time? Nope. Will you learn something every time you try it? Absolutely! You cannot escape it and it will allow you to hone your abilities and allow you to understand what it takes to make collaborations work. You still have to expose yourself and demonstrate your current skill level. That's an important concept.
Every time you collaborate or perform you can only bring to the table what you know and your current skill level to perform it. If others have higher or lower expectations then that's not your problem. Play what you can from the heart and the appreciation will come from your head. That is what's important. You performed, you learned and now it is time to take your next step on a never ending yellow brick road of music.
Live music tonight! To be experienced and then left to float on the wind and simply fade away. In a way that's a comfort and a loss but an experience none the less. So play. Play with others. Play in front of others. You will have fun.
Trust me. I'm a teacher.
by Robert Gundry