Happy 2014! I just realized that with the new semester off to an already-hectic pace, I have neglected catapulting my thoughts out there into the wild blue web. Over the New Year I read a thought-provoking book by Seth Godin: Linchpin. The same author of Purple Cow and other interesting reads, Godin emphasizes what is at the heart of what keeps me passionate about being a music educator: everyone's an artist.
In a time when most people are afraid of investing in what connects them passionately to life for fear of going a more practical route, his message rings clear. Art requires emotional labor. Although emotional labor is a commodity readily available to all people, the spending and investing of it is carefully monitored out of fear and lack of value. Besides emotional labor, it takes the investment of and in one's self to create art.
Godin defines art as "a personal gift that changes the recipient." I love that continuum, that powerful cause-and-effect: someone is called to create art, which then somehow changes someone. Actually, the crux of the act of creating art is to connect with someone, to offer a gift. The recipient could be the artist, but in its truest form, the recipient is someone else.
As musicians, that principle should influence everything we do. Why do we earn degrees? To get jobs or to lead passionate, fulfilling lives in which we effect change? If the object of our game is to earn money, does what we create cease to be art? I'm not for a second implying that we should "give away" art, or that art does not merit the respect of fair compensation. I am, however, celebrating the tenet of "selflessness." This invites a release of the tension of needing to play perfectly or making the next round at the audition. Moreover, it sustains transformative art that makes a difference. Can you imagine considering that the next time you're practicing?
So we're all artists...and we can be in everything we do, if we just make the investment of emotional labor. Musicians are ahead of the game which society is now discovering! How differently would you play/teach/sing if you considered that what you were about to create would influence someone else?