Showing My Work

I have heard many musicians say that the best time of their life was music school. Music school (by which they mean college/conservatory) is where you are daily surrounded by like-minded students, practicing your craft, busy with nothing but music all day, with nothing else to worry about.

Hypothetically anyway.

I also had many high school teachers say that we should enjoy high school as much as we could, as it would be the best time of our lives.

That was definitely (and thankfully) not true.

And I take the idea of music school being the best time of my life as a challenge to prove it wrong. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy music school – I did, I had a wonderful time for both of my degrees. I discovered a lot about myself, learned a lot about music, and also learned a lot about many other things while I was procrastinating practicing by taking too many electives. It was wonderful. I love learning. But I certainly had other worries as well. There were some major personal upheavals, and a lot of financial instability. Nothing is ever completely good or completely bad.

I’m sure it’s no different with the next phase of my life, in which I attempt to start some sort of career, or at least build some sort of sustainable income.

But a part of me feels suddenly free. I am done my masters, with no plans for a DMA or a PhD, and I feel like I’m finally free to do whatever I want instead of what I need to do to work towards whatever degree comes next. I’ve learned my abilities and I’ve learned some of my current limits, and I want to explore and follow my curiosity. I want to hone new skills and return to old hobbies.

An old hobby that I want to hone as a new skill is writing. Since I just managed to set up a website, all by myself (pat on the back for that), and since it’s probably not discoverable by google quite yet and will have low traffic, why not work on honing my writing here?

I recently read the book ‘Show Your Work’ by Austin Kleon. I might tell you more about it later, but for now all you need to know is that it’s a short book, which is wise on the part of the author since there’s mostly one take-away lesson: to show your work. Something small every day. It doesn’t have to be good. So this is me, showing my work.

I’ve met many musicians who are hesitant to show their work-in-progress. Someone once told me it was brave of me to upload my graduation recital to Youtube, with the implication that it was brave to post something imperfect. Yet as Kleon and others have pointed out, if you wait until it’s perfect you’ll never share anything.

Lately I’ve been thinking more and more that the most important people in music are the amateurs. The people who do it just for the love of it, and who want to share because of how excited they are about it. Not because it’s perfect, not to show off, not to provide an aesthetic experience (whatever that may be), but just for the sheer fun and joy of it. I find that inspirational, even aspirational.

Of course part of the fun of it is getting better at things and showing that too, and that doesn’t happen without practice. So while this website is still young with no traffic, my worst writing (this) will go relatively unnoticed. And if I write a little bit every day, and get a little better every day, nobody will ever read this post (probably. Hopefully. I apologise if you do.). Good incentive to placate the inner classical musician in me and still show my work, isn’t it?

With any luck, until soon!

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