Performing

Posts about performing music, recitals, concerts. Topics could cover stage fright, how to have a good recital, etc.

While music is indeed a form of expressing one’s feelings, almost as if it was a language, there is another language that came from music as it’s melodies and rythm made their way into the body. The human body reacts to these sounds and rythm, and moves.

History teaches us that dancing was used or performed for many different reasons, but we are lead to believe that at first, dancing was used as a tool to comunicate with other people, which makes perfect sense due to the fact that before any language was spoken, people had to comunicate in some way, and dancing was one of them. There is also the fact that today, people who have good dancing skills, are usually very comfortable in social gatherings.

Of course, besides comunicating, it also helps with bonding, as it’s usually tied to celebrations, rituals and many other positive ocasions. Dancing was a very important part of rituals for Egyptians, Africans and Indians which involved a deep understanding about what was going on, meaning that dancing was not just a little thing, it had meaning.

Another use of dancing was for rituals, more specifically healing rituals.

Dancing as a Job

In an interview from jobshadow.com with Ksyn Cason, a professional dancer, she gives some insight into the life of a person that lives from dancing.

What do you like about what you do?

There isn’t one specific thing that I like about what I do. All I can say is that I love it as a whole. I love performing, so definitely one thing would have to be when I am on stage in front of thousands of people. It gives me the ultimate rush. I also love the traveling. I have been all over the world, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, Japan and still have so many places that I have yet to go. Lastly, I would have to say that I love what I do. It brings me joy to be able to tell people that I am actually living my dream. It is a blessing.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

A common misconception that people have about dancers would be that dance is a hobby and not an actual career. Just because it isn’t your everyday 9am – 5pm doesn’t mean that it is not a job. Our schedules are more like having a retail job. One day we can have rehearsals from 10am – 6pm and the next day be in rehearsal for 12 hours. The times when we are not getting paid to work we are training, so technically we are always working.  We get paid just like a person with a “regular” job, just not every week or bi weekly (Most agencies/clients have payment time frames outlined in their contracts which can range from 30 – 90 days). It’s just annoying when people do no take what we do for being an actual job. However, it is not necessarily a job that everyone will be successful in. Few people people make it so that is one thing that you must always keep in mind.

Benefits of Dancing

Dancing can be a job or it can be something you do for fun, but whether it’s one or the other, there are a few benefits we can enjoy from it.

It’s important to say that dancing is very beneficial when it comes to your health as it helps preventing heart and blood vessel diseases, and it also improves posture, a healthy weight, reduces stress and tension and it’s an exercise for your brain as there is some coordination and rythm to follow.

This last benefit is also a very interesting part for musicians, because dancing can actually improve the way you make music or even enjoy it more. There is something about your body letting loose and feel in sync with the music, not just playing but enjoying as if you were both the performer and the audience. On stage in many genres, this is one of the best ways to communicate with the audience, just like history has shown us, dancing helps develop a stronger connection.

So even if you are not a good dancer or you feel like it’s just not your thing, try at least to let loose a little and just think about the music.

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There comes a point in the journey of a musician when it’s not just about playing with an instrument and learning, there is a lot of trial and error, boring parts, persistence, necessary rest and a few more battles which sometimes can take a toll on creativity and the natural flow of composition and music making.

This burn-out can come in many forms but the most common is when music has become your job or a main objective in life, this makes the time for music very precious and makes us think as musicians that we have to make the most of it.

Burn-out is is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that is often caused by stress. It happens when you feel overwhelmed, drained and tired. In music this sort of attitude will take away your motivation and even make you doubt why you chose to be a musician in the first place.

In order to accomplish the general goal of a musician, there are some obstacles to overcome that can become very tiring and can potentially trigger this burn-out state.

The great Prog. Rock band Rush, experienced this at one point during their career, singer and bassist Geddy Lee said:

“Neil wasn’t too happy then, but neither was the rest of us, we were burned out on tour and not playing too well and not caring about it—that’s the worst. You just go on stage and do another show, but you’re not all there. It’s too much on automatic pilot.”

Composition

Composition is the first step when making music, and it’s usually not that frustrating, unless you find yourself stuck and no creativity comes from your mind. At this point many musicians sometimes go against this feeling directly only to find themselves with greater frustration and eventually feel burned out.

Recording

Recording music can be one of the longest most frustrating parts of music, not only because you have to perform the best way possible, but also all the technical things around it makes every detail a very particular weight to carry.

Support

Having people you care about support you in what you do is always important, this is no different when it comes to music. This sort of support can come in the form of family, friends and love interests.

Not only will the people around you make you stronger but also the people who listens to your music, as this will reinforce the fact that you are indeed making good music, and it’s not just support from people who loves you.

Money Making

It shouldn’t be that common for musicians to feel burned out right? it’s supposed to be something to feel happy, feel good no matter how much deep in the music industry you are as a musician, but in many cases today, music can be just about making money, and when art becomes a product everything else starts to fall apart.

Even in the early stages of a musicians project, there has to be a second source of income, so that music isn’t shackled by the basic needs, even though it may be able to cover them later on.

Make music because you love music.

The Life Outside Music Making

Getting obsessed with “getting things done” is often one of the biggest mistakes when it comes to preventing being burned out. Of course things have to get done, and more often than not you can’t decide to have all the time in the world, however, sometimes it’s necessary to take a break from music and just enjoy everything else.

Taking some time to practice something else, whether it is another art, a sport, or a hobby, will not just make you relax but also find inspiration for your music.

In the end music speaks about everything that happens in life, if a musician tries to make something from nothing without even a spark of inspiration from something that he lived, then nothing will come to life and he will most likely feel burned out.

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There is an idea that some musicians share that the instrument a musician plays is related to the player’s personality and attitude, or can even change it transforming the person just like a superhero changes when they put ther suits on. It changes depending on the person but it can go one way or the other. The fact is that there is a connection between playing an instrument and one’s personality.

From the composer’s point of view, the music that is being made is very different depending on the base instrument for the idea, for example, if you begin to play something from scratch with a violin, it will definitely convey very different feelings than if it was played with a piano.

From Guitar to Piano

Alex Turner playing the piano

Many musicians that begin with one instrument and then learn another one feel this difference. One example in modern rock is with Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys, who has composed his song singing with a guitar, but in their most recent album, he decided to go with a piano as the main instrument to compose the songs. He describes it as

“The guitar had lost its ability to give me ideas. Every time I sat with a guitar I was suspicious of where it was gonna go. I had a pretty good idea of what I might be which is completely contrary to what I felt when I sat at the piano.”

In an interview with Radio X’s John Kennedy Alex Turner talks about how picking up an instrument makes him become a certain character and how the piano is a different “hat” than the guitar, he says: “It is what they describe in dramatics as the mantle of the expert”. He says that he remembers when he first picked up the guitar, he knew what sort of role he would play even before actually playing the instrument, so in a way the instrument determined a lot of what he as a musician was going to be eventually.

Reveal a New You

It may seem like it doesn’t really matter but it actually makes sense. But not as obvious as it may seem. If the general idea of music is to communicate feelings to the people who listen, you need to find an instrument that understands you, what this means is that it is in sync with what you want to say, this doesn’t mean the instrument you play is determined by your personality, what it means is that you choose a type of language that suits your body and mind in a way that you can be who you want to be.

This is actually a rather beautiful idea, not only because it pushes you to do new things, but because an instrument represents the greek notion of “aletheia” which means “uncover” “to reveal” and that is what the instrument does, it doesn’t change you, it reveals a part of you through music.

In an article by Jesse Scheinin, from bayareaparent.com these is an example of this:

A lot of the musicians I know had similar experiences. Theo Meneau, a trumpet player from Marin, says that these programs provided him with a “social outlet that was missing in the school system.”

Theo was initially drawn to the flute, which was appropriate since he is a soft-spoken guy. But playing the loud, bright trumpet has made him more confident and “able to be myself,” he says, even when his surroundings aren’t inherently comfortable.

Aspiring musicians have to take their time and find the instrument that is able to say what they want to say, and be who they want to be, and no teacher can know that, it’s a very personal thing that comes from trial, error, and dedication, but most of all, it’s a very natural thing.

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