Have you ever thought about what a big part music plays in our lives? Think of soundtracks to movies, TV shows and commercials, music at church services, background music in stores, coffee shops and restaurants, concerts, sporting events, parties, parades, etc. Of course an iPod can keep you hooked up to music all day. In fact, music is so prevalent that we probably don’t even notice it’s often playing in the background (at the grocery store, maybe?).
Music is an extremely powerful art form. Picture, for example, the scene in the movie “Jaws,” where all you see is the bottom of the ocean as the camera scans over it. Without the pulse pounding music building up tension, the scene might not have any emotional effect at all on us. But with that soundtrack, we know something scary is going to happen. The next time you watch a movie, TV show or a commercial, pay close attention to the music score and you’ll see how effectively it’s used in these mediums.
For those of us who play musical instruments it’s obvious that music creates emotion. Even if you never play in front of an audience, the musician himself can experience the emotional impact of their own music. Often, however, we can be thinking so much about technique, trying to practice playing faster, etc. that we don’t really listen close enough to our own playing. After all, the reason we started learning to play our instrument in the first place is because we love the sound it makes. For me it was the guitar. It seems a shame to miss out on the joy of really listening to ourselves playing because we view practicing as frustrating exercises and performing as stressful work (which includes the fear of making mistakes).
I tell my guitar students to try to listen more closely to their own playing. Try to think of yourself as the player and a member of your audience. One thing that’s really cool about doing this is it seems to make you, the player, more relaxed. You’re enjoying the sound of the instrument you love. And when you are relaxed you tend to play better. So it can lead to more productive, less stressful practice sessions, and more enjoyable performances.
• Resident Mike Haasis teaches guitar classes in Ahwatukee Foothills at Dry Creek Guitar Studio. Reach him at (480) 759-1025 or drycreekguitarstudio.com.