Brilliant Boiler Move,
and once again we Play It Like It's Music
How’s your week going? Better than mine, I hope.
Because, accepting the award for…
“yes, I really did this…”
is yours truly!
You know the electric water boiler? Well yesterday I, bright and early, filled it with water, placed it on the stove, lit the flame under it and then went to lie down and wait for it to boil.
Not the “kettle”. The electric one.
For a moment I wondered why I wasn’t hearing the familiar rushing sound of wet electrons getting pushed around. Then I heard a crackling and suddenly smelled tar… Ooops, too late, the thing was dripping rubber all over the range. No chance at a rescue: I had just authored my stupidest move in years.
Sadly I have no picture for you of it here, because I was too embarrassed to take one.
But here’s where my brain might have been:
Polar Vortex, indeed.
Many of you wrote in after last week’s piece with words of encouragement, and I also got some wise feedback:
"Beautiful post my friend. The whys and wherefores of what we do as artists is the ultimate rabbit hole. So many layers, such a multifaceted process, musically, emotionally and socially. At the core of it all is our hearts and souls, without being true to that on some level (and it varies artist to artist) it’s just commerce. I already punch a clock and will (knock wood) continue to, working for the great nonprofit that I do... It allows me to provide for my family and gives me the freedom to immerse myself in more creative pursuits, when time and circumstance allows."
As ever, when you write back to me it’s like a beautiful light shining, and in this case I felt a pang of oh, maybe I shouldn’ta said it quite like that?
While I have faith that you all understand where my timeclock image came from in context, I hope not to have offended anyone with flippancy towards the work ethic we all depend on for dignity and survival.
I still promise to always write by the seat of my pants.
practical performance psychology: a pep talk
There are many layers through which we can pass while preparing a performance, and our level of preparation determines our safety in the act.
Not everyone feels they need safety, or will admit to it. Because "safety" is always a temporary condition anyway.
I am of the belief that the only way to feel safe is to be prepared. And I like to feel safe, so I prepare:
I keep my fingers fit.
I keep learning new music.
I keep writing, keep improvising.
I keep checking my attitude.
I make sure I'm rested, fed.
I sing every day.
I move my body...
There's a long list of those basics, but why? When the rent is too damn high and work is slow, why is it these things I choose to do in order to feel safe?
Because I know the alternative. I know what my life feels like without a song in it: murder and mayhem are never far off if I turn away from music.
So I maintain.
In reality, we can be called to perform at any time. In reality we perform all day long. Our duties, our relationships, our jobs. A musical "performance" is a job too, but for some reason we think we have to put it on a pedestal of some kind, a stage.
We save it for those moments when we can afford a ticket to the ballet, or when the weekend hits. But I have convinced myself otherwise, and there's no going back:
Music is not a peak experience of the pinnacle of expression. Music is the root, the core. The center of life.
Mystical and philosophical literature abounds from this point of view. But for some reason, most people I see and meet still consume their music like it's some kind of vice or delicacy.
They use it for a palliative, a propellant or a release.
Music can be all of those things, if you choose to see your life as apart from music. But what if you are actually a part OF music?
Then you might need much more of it. You may need to also select your music much more carefully.
No more chemicals in your water, so to speak. You might even find you need to participate in it. Make some. Do some.
But if we tell ourselves that our playing is for some kind of "performance" - even a small scale performance like Happy Birthday or trying to impress a crush - we can short circuit so fast. Constrict, compare, judge. We forget that music is actually something we are made of, regardless of whether we have "talent"
Talent is nothing but an invitation to hard work. Ability is merely the presence of skill.
But music is the very bed of our existence, beneath all the stories we might tell ourselves. You are safe to believe that you are made of music, and that beauty lives in your honest embrace of it. Regardless of form, style or positioning.
You were made to play.
Play your pain.
Play your hunger.
Play your love.
Play your longing.
Play your friendship.
Play your work.
Play your freedom.
Play because it's your right.
Play the truth.
Because life ain't a record.
A picture of the sunset is just a picture. Drink the water, then mix your cocktail.
The performance is in your mind only. It's already here. You woke up doing it.
You are it.
Beauty is yours when you take the pressure off.
Safety is yours when you choose to dare.
Sound is your gift and your deliverance.
I enthusiastically recommend the film “Three Identical Strangers”. It’s sticking with me for all the right reasons. I’ve been on a brotherhood kick, so the first half is an amazing rollercoaster for the heart. But this story has many more layers than that and turns into something quite thought provoking. At the least, it can be a great cleanse in between blockbusters:
AND FINALLY, I am happy to announce that there is a…..
New Episode of my show, “Play It Like It’s Music” out today:
My friend NewK (aka John Newcott) is this month’s guest on the Pod.
Like many, I first knew him as a marketing guy for Universal and Verve Forecast back in the 90s, but as happens with all first impressions, I later had to seriously expand the slot I’d originally allocated to him in my mind. The guy has a long history as a musician and composer as well as a deep love of the art which now, at long last, takes center stage in his life. NewK has been around the block and back, and in this episode of Play It Like It’s Music we get to hear some of his stories, as well as some great music.
Thank you for reading and subscribing.
I appreciate you more than you know, and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you: I’d love to know what you’re doing, how 2019 is shaping up etc. The list is currently of an intimate size, so hit reply and let’s dish.
Love your face,
If you appreciate my work, please share this email with a friend.
Check out the “Trevor Exter Playlist” on Spotify
Hear my show: "Play It Like It's Music"
Hire me to produce your podcast.
Get involved: visit Patreon