Just play

Music college was a funny place for me. I was 24 entering while most were 18 and knew a lot more about music than I did. So at the same time as my mind was being blown by everything I was learning and all the people I was playing with, I was experiencing feelings of inferiority and self-doubt.

My teacher was amazing. He could play jazz in a way that made me simultaneously want to listen forever and never want to even try and play again.

It was sometimes hard to enjoy the most amazing gigs because all I could do was think of was my own playing and wonder if I would ever be able to do what the musicians on stage were doing.

Musicians are a funny breed. I have seen people mentally freeze on a tune they would usually eat up just because someone they looked up to had walked into the gig.

Oscar Peterson had these same feelings when Art Tatum entered the room. Billy Joel freely admits to wishing he could do more with his left hand. And as a musician, because your playing is often tied up in your feelings of self-worth, any criticism or perceived inadequacy can hurt all the more.

It hit me when I met my piano teacher from college again, several years later. We had a few pints and a chat and he told me about the the way he felt about other players who he percieved to play better piano than he did….it was the same as I felt about him!

No matter who you are, there will always be someone who you believe plays your instrument better than you do, as well as someone who you believe plays it not as well. It doesn’t mean they are better/worse people, it just reflects the fact that they have probably put more/less time into it than you have, or have learnt in ways that you haven’t.

Just play. Life’s too short for the rest.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.