Today’s show is intrinsically important for a wide range of people and careers, and it’s applicable to almost everything! The subject is, letting go of the ego in your music. You may wonder what I mean by that? In order to play a public performance, you have to have a great deal of confidence. I’m not talking about preparing a great deal to have the ability to go out in front of people and do your best. That’s important as long as it’s reality-based. Obviously, if you aren’t prepared, and you expect wonderful things to magically happen in performance, then you are somewhat delusional! But having confidence and going out with the right attitude, realizing that no one’s going to get hurt no matter what happens is necessary. Here is where the ego may enter into things.
You must understand that it’s not all about you.
Ultimately, when you perform, you want to be able to let go of how people are thinking and feeling about you, which seems kind of contradictory. You’re in front of people, you’re performing, but this doesn’t apply just for performing.
This relates to composing as well.
You may try composing music you think people want to hear. For example, you hear music that’s popular, that’s getting on a lot of playlists and you’re thinking, “Well maybe I should compose something like that.” This is really not an honest approach. You want to have personal conviction for what you do, and if you let go of the id and just be one with the music you can reach a much deeper level. of expression.
Where this is perhaps most challenging is not in composing where you have time to go over the score again and again and decide to burn it if it’s not an honest expression, or even performing where at least you get a chance to refine the music again and again and have a pretty good idea of what’s going to come out at your performance. But in improvisation where you really let go – that is a time that I find personally is the most intrinsically challenging in order to be honest in expression, because it’s so hard not to have that part looking down on you thinking, “Hey is that cool. Are people going to like that?”
It is necessary to have kind of two brains, the brain that’s doing and the brain that’s watching.
One example of that is at a live performance when you make sure you’re not getting too excited. You’re in front of an audience and things are going great and you’re taking a really fast tempo, possibly faster than you’ve ever taken before. You have to have that other part of yourself looking down in kind of a motherly or a fatherly way saying, “Be careful Bob, don’t get carried away!” keeping things under control even though it’s exciting. There is always that duality. But what I’m talking about is something not about watching over yourself in a caring way, but in an egotistical way, in a way that smacks of, “Am I showing how cool I am? Are those changes sophisticated enough to impress people? I hope people are blown away with my technique. Maybe I should take this section faster so people think I’m great.”
That is dangerous because it alienates the audience.
Audiences don’t care how good you are.
They just want to feel what you’re feeling and if you’re just feeling it’s all about you, then they’re not going to get the sense that you care about them.
On the accompanying video, I’m going to play an improvisation off the cuff with no preconceived notions – totally raw.
I have no idea what it’s going to be, and it is a little scary. It is like being emotionally naked, and I hope I can keep the internal chatter at bay and just give you an honest expression of what I’m feeling wherever it takes me. I don’t know where that will be until I play and get into it. So here we go, and this is all about getting rid of the ego in your music. Let’s see if I can achieve some sense of that here right now for you.
Well you know it’s a funny thing. I play freeform improvisations all the time and it’s so much easier to do them when not being put on the spot. I think I got some nice things there. I wish that everything I played was recorded because I’d love to share them with you! I’ll do more of these for you, because you never know what will come out.
The message today is to let go of the ego, and play from your heart without worrying about how you’re being judged. This goes for everything you do whether it’s writing, painting even talking to people in conversation. It’s not about showing off and showing how great you are – it’s about listening to people and trying to reach people because that’s all we have in this world ultimately, isn’t it? I hope this has been inspiring for you.
This is Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com Your Online Piano Store info@LivingPianos.com 949-244-3729