inspiration

There are lots of myths and conversation surrounding what makes the first spark of creativity and inspiration, some say it’s a natural thing and others say it’s something you learn, however the truth is that there has never been a time when this was not an important subject.

The Mistery of Inspiration

muse inspiration

Human beings have been talking about this strange inspiration moment for centuries, and it goes as far as ancient greece were they talked about the muses. There were nine muses, each for one form of inspiration, but the most important in music was Euterpe.What’s interesting is that many of the muses shared musical instruments as symbols, meaning that music was very present in different forms of art, and display of emotions.

The word “Muse” is still used in that sense, as some unknown impulse that something or someone evokes in a person in order for them to create through different means.

Modern Muse

These days the inspiration musicians feel when they create something is still very misterious, and it’s very hard to get a grip on what makes it appear. It’s different for each musician, some may need a clear head and be calmed, others use anxiety and anger to fuel their music, and some believe there is something in common between every musician.

Jack White has some words for what inspiration is for him, and how it has changed since the beginning of his career. He believes that there is a side of inspiration that you must build through work and discipline.

Guy Garvey from Elbow said in an short interview with the guardian said:

The best advice I’ve ever had came about 20 years ago from Mano McLaughlin, one of Britain’s best songwriters. “The song is all,” he said, “Don’t worry about what the rest of the music sounds like: you have a responsibility to the song.” I found that really inspiring: it reminded me not to worry about whether a song sounds cool, or fits with everything we’ve done before – but just to let the song be what it is.

Usually bands have specific inspirations for each album but sometimes it’s just about letting the music be.

There are very interesting proposals in progressive rock for example, where inspiration took bands to extreme levels of performance and lyrics in order to express the feeling inspired by something in particular, for example: Supper’s Ready, which is a song from Genesis

The song was inspired by a night Peter Gabriel spent with his first wife, Jill, at her parents’ house. Gabriel believes Jill became possessed by a spirit, which gave him the starting point for a song about the battle between good and evil.

Gabriel said: “One of the first times that I felt as if I was really singing from my soul, almost like singing for my life.”

It’s very hard to understand when and how inspiration comes, and it’s certainly not something a few steps on the internet can get you, it’s something every musician has to live on his own. Maybe the best advice is to make music really be a part of your life by practicing, exploring new grounds and just look forward to playing everytime, eventually inspiration will come in different forms, when it does, it’s best to make the most of it.

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“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver,” Proverb 25:11. –Holy Bible

How true!

Here are 35 quotes in 5 categories to chew on, memorize, or frame for your music studio. Or if you’re like me, plaster them all over the house on sticky notes.

Some of them are good reminders. Others lift me up when I need it. They encourage me to be the best teacher of music students I can be. I enjoy others’ favorite quotes, or  ideas  about how to use them with students.

Your studio website is a great place to include a quote. Don’t have one? You get one when you use Music Teachers Helper!

Quotes to Facilitate Teaching

  1. “We’ve been given two ears and two eyes but only one tongue, so we should hear and see more than we speak.” –Greek proverb
  2. “I never teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” –Socrates
  3. “I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” –Albert Einstein
  4. “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” –Mark VanDoren
  5. “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” –William Butler Yeats
  6. “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” –William Ward
  7. “Spoon feeding, in the long run, teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.” –E. M. Forster
  8. “The greatest sign of success for a teacher…is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’” –Maria Montessori
  9. “You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.” –Clay P. Bedford
  10. “What a child digs for becomes his own possession.” –Charlotte Mason
  11. “Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best.” –Bob Talbert
  12. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” –Aristotle
  13. “I’m not a teacher, but an awakener.” –Robert Frost
  14. “Speak less. Listen more. Ask more.” –Robin Steinweg

Quotes on Caring and Kindness

  1. “Be a little kinder than you have to.” –E. Lockhart
  2. “Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.” –Plato
  3. “Everything you don’t know is something you can learn.” –Anonymous
  4. “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” –Aesop
  5. “The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.” –Anonymous

Quotes of Inspiration and Art

  1. “A great work of art is made out of a combination of obedience and liberty.” –Nadia Boulanger
  2. “If you cannot teach me to fly, teach me to sing.” –Sir James Barrie
  3. “Music is not hard. Climbing Mount Everest is hard. Music merely makes you think.” –Patti Coxwell
  4. “Conflict resolution is only a half-step away.” –Anonymous
  5. “Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.” –Plato

Quotes on Creativity

  1. “A painter paints on canvas. Musicians paint their pictures on silence.” –Leopold Stokowski
  2. “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” –Jack London
  3. “Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.” –Voltaire (for more on this subject–Steal Like an Artist )
  4. “Do not let the endless succession of small things crowd great ideals out of sight and out of mind.” –Charlotte Mason
  5. “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if you only try!” –Dr. Seuss

Quotes to Help the Musician-in-Progress

  1. “It isn’t where you came from, it’s where you’re going that counts.” –Ella Fitzgerald
  2. “Lemonade comes from lemons. Take that mistake and make something brilliant of it!” –Robin Steinweg
  3. “Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” –John Wooden
  4. “Young people can learn from my example that something can come from nothing. What I have become is the result of my hard efforts.” –Franz Joseph Haydn
  5. “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” –Napoleon Hill
  6. “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” –Salvadore Dali
  7. “Accentuate the positive.” –Harold Arlen
  8. “I’d far rather hear a student make music with mistakes than hear a perfect rendition of notes on a page.” –Robin Steinweg

What quotes inspire you? We’d love to hear them!

Music Teachers Helper

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Day 283 / 365 - SkillsI remember it as though it were yesterday. The song was called “Moonlight and Roses.” I hated that piece. I still do!

With tears streaming down my face, try as I might, I was getting nowhere. My mum patiently sat with me, trying to coax me to work through my frustration but to no avail.

Things just went from bad to worse. As my progress on the song deteriorated, frustration turned to anger. “I HATE this song!” “I HATE my music teacher!” “I want to QUIT my music lessons!” “I GIVE UP!” I screamed, red in the face, anger exploding from every fibre of my 8-year-old body.

What happened next was my mum’s worst and finest hour of parenting! In hindsight, she should have  [···]

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