Music & The Mind: Transitioning from Thoughtlessness to Thoughtfulness.

So I'm in my third week of my Masters in Music at AIM and one thing I have definitely been challenged on is moving from being a session musician to a music artist; from playing in an un-thoughtful manner to a thoughtful one. It's not that I would say that I do not think when I play, but more so that often the music that I often get paid to do is for certain events where the music is not the centerpiece and I slip into not thinking it is of eternal importance that I prepare this to the best of my ability. Perhaps the music is for a wedding or a corporate event or perhaps it is another musician that takes center stage. I feel that this is where I have acquired this thoughtlessness.

Often in these kind of ensembles, you are playing the material of music together for the first time as you figure out which tunes you all know how to play. Often people come from different schools of music either being from a high standard of music education and proficiency to playing with musicians who were self taught and learned how to play music in bars and clubs. This leaves most musicians unsure of what the parameters are of the aims of playing the music.

This often has meant that when I have approached music, it hasn't been prepared or thought out as I would have liked it to have been thought out. Often people really like my playing, but I can honestly say that I have not taken care of all aspects of music.

What do I mean by that?

Say you're playing a jazz standard. You may know the melody and chord changes, but you have not carefully thought of what your introduction, what your ending or what the transitions will sound like from section to section. This is what I mean when I say that I have been playing in a thoughtless manner. I "know" the standard, but I have not focused on understanding and executing every single section which is what all great music requires.

Thoughtfulness in music is paramount in impacting people in an emotional way. Getting rid of gaps in musical knowledge helps that whole message remain strong throughout a performance. It is therefore of utmost importance that with every song you attempt that you don't simply glance over it, but you make a plan to nail the shit out of that tune!