Messing around: the secret ingredient

If you are reading this blog, I am assuming it is because you are studying either piano or drums. Or, at least, you are interested in those concepts.

And so, most of the time, the study involves some technique, of course, and some more technique, of course, and some songs to play along with, of course, and a few subjects to look at like subdivisions, dynamics and the like.

Of course.

And, the practice goes very well. We are done for today, time to move on to other items that need to be taken care of in our lives. Practice done, practice no more.

But, if one were to follow this routine for a long time, one would find himself bored to death. Where is the spark? Where is the fire? Routine is great, but one cannot feed just on that if one wants to last a long time.

That’s where messing around comes into play.

I advise that no one forget this very simple rule: the fun comes from within.

By that I mean that music has to have personal elements. And that element has to come from within. How do you develop it? By messing around, by letting the arms move on their own, let the body create sounds. Will you do some mistakes? Yes! Will you sometimes sound awful? Yes, again! Will you cringe? One more time: yes! It will be uncomfortable and perplexing, surprising and ground breaking and, most of all, it will be fun!

I venture to say that all the greatest players on earth have spent a ton of time just messing around. That is how they carved their voice inside their playing, how they printed every note with their own personality. Plus, that attitude helped them go through the rough patches, when it seemed the determination failed, or when their discipline collapsed. They just kept playing, even if their playing was nonsense, their music incoherent. And, when they came on the other side, they were stronger and more at peace with themselves, because the resources to continue came from within, a natural and familiar place to explore.