discipline and music

It’s almost a slogan that, to get anywhere in music, you have to discipline yourself. Of course it’s true, but I think we tend to confuse it with that quasi-military, “I WILL overcome, I WILL succeed” type of discipline, the one that pushes you past 20 or so pushups.

When we’re flirting with somebody we like, it’s incredible how positive we become. We’re positively anxious to say nothing offensive, scanning sentences to scrub the callouses from our talking. In fact, we’re disciplining our conversation, which makes us more attractive.

I think it’s this type of discipline that we’re closest to as musicians. We regiment our fingers not because we’re conquering the strings, not because we’re bodybuilding, but because we’re madly eager to please, to make a beautiful sound. It’s as though we’re flirting with life, through our instrument.

The caption for this snippet is from Baekdamsa monastery in South Korea. Balancing stones in this way is a marvellous practice of deliberate action, a similar kind of positive self-restraint.  

February 2017

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