I found a great phrase this morning in a book by Steve Chandler: “the voice of your spirit”. I like this Phrase. It zeros in on what I was trying to describe a while ago when I wrote to you about discovering your own voice by recording yourself and then listening to your own music.
When you listen to a recording of your music, you hear things that pass you by when you are in the middle of playing. You hear even more when you have a clear idea of why you are listening and what you are listening for.
There are two great ways to practice and listen to music: for technical progress, and for the spirit of the music. It helps to separate and exaggerate the differences between these two approaches to understand them and get the most out of them.
Let’s briefly talk about technical practice and then return to focusing on the spirit of music.
When you work on the technical aspects of your music, be strict, critical, tough, focused. Small very clear goals help a lot. So do metronomes, cause they keep you honest. When you record yourself while doing this kind of practice, you can compare where you were to where you are now, and hear progress. This will inspire you…
Listening for the voice of your spirit is a very different practice than using the critical listening skills you use when doing technical practice. You have to train yourself to listen for the voice of your spirit. It can feel weird and risky, uncomfortable. But don’t let this stop you: the voice of your spirit is the best part of your music – don’t miss out on it!
You have to turn off the inner critic. You have to be forgiving, open, kind. You may not hear much of a signal at first, but you will hear something….
Remember John Lee Hooker: “it’s in you and it gots to get out”…
The more you practice listening for the voice of your spirit, the more often you will hear it. This will make it easier for you to tune out the media circus around you and stay centered.
You will become a better musician. And a better version of who you are…
PS – if you have any good stories of discovering the voice of your spirit, I would love to hear them…. thanks!