You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail. ~ Charlie Parker
[Portrait of Charlie Parker, Three Deuces, New York, N.Y., ca. Aug. 1947] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)
You need to learn your craft. You need to spend time on honing your skills. You cannot expect to get success handed out to you without working your socks off. There is no instant gratification – if that’s what you expect, you might be in for a massive disappointment.
Have you ever met one of these artists who are never ready to step out there though? Who always “need to learn more”? Who still need to put a few finishing touches to whatever they are creating? Only that they never finish it?
You need to let go at some point. The singer or instrumentalist needs to trust their muscle memory to take over, and then infuse their craft with life. The writer needs to trust the technical skill they have developed over the years, and just tell the story. The painter needs to trust their ability to use appropriate technical skill to bring their painting to life.
Creating art is about a lot of hard work, and finding the right tools in our toolboxes. Only knowing how to hit a nail won’t build anything though…
If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing. ~ Marc Chagall
self-portrait (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I am a singing teacher. I know a lot about technique, the physiology of singing and teaching methods. And sometimes, it annoys me greatly that I analyse every tiniest detail that is “off”; that I analyse technique instead of just letting music be music.
If I do this in my function as a teacher, it’s fine and often needed; if I do it as a singer, being too “brainy” about everything usually leads to nothing good: Self-doubt, trying too hard, being too technical, getting frustrated. This approach just doesn’t work, unless I only want to work on technique.
Then I need to remind myself, again, that my muscle memory knows all this stuff, that I can trust my body to take over when it matters. Most of the time, that little reminder does the trick. Sometimes, the little nagging voice refuses to be silent though. I meanwhile have a strategy: If the inner critic is too loud on a particular day and tries to sabotage me, I take that day off.
Do you sometimes catch yourself using “craft” and “art” synonymously? Do you create art from your heart or your head?
I never think when I write. Nobody can do two things at the same time and do them both well. ~ Don Marquis
Don Marquis (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)
Oh, how well I used to know, and sometimes still know, this problem (even if the quote is meant in a humorous way)!
As a singer, good technique is a “big one” for me. It is so easy to become engrossed in doing things “perfectly” (what does that mean anyway?). That inner critic is a pest!
Sometimes, the old brain just needs to switch off, and we need to reconnect with the purpose of our art:
To feel, to share what moves us, and to do so without constantly questioning ourselves.
Do you regularly spend time (over)thinking when it comes to your art? How often does perfectionism get in the way, and do you often find yourself focusing on “doing it right” instead of “doing what feels right”? And do you even differentiate between the two?