Thursday, June 23, 2011


Along with cultivating mindfulness and working to ameliorate afflictive emotions, a third tool of Buddhist mind training that can offer a helpful way of thinking about how to go about approaching music making is a consideration of your motivation. Why you're doing what you're doing greatly affects the outcome.

I live in central Virginia where horses are one of the major industries and lots of people have them for a variety of reasons. At one extreme there are folks who simply enjoy riding along trails and through woods and fields just for the simple pleasure of riding and being out in nature. At the other extreme there are the horse show people who spend hours and hours and hours teaching their horses how to negotiate a series of jumps and obstacles in a closed ring observed by judges and spectators.

As a music therapist I tend to work more with people wanting to simply make music for the enjoyment of doing so. Music educators tend to work with people who enjoy making music as well, but who also have the motivation to push their skill level higher and higher in a competitive environment.

Establishing early on why it is you want to make music, and then using that insight in how you go about doing it can prevent a lot of needless frustration.

Motivation is also very important in very detailed and specific ways as well. Music is more than just notes on a page. Having a clear idea of what it is you want to express with them will greatly facilitate learning how to play them. The same goes for improvisation - the better idea you have of what you want to express will help you find the music that you'll enjoy making.

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