What makes a good musician

August 21, 2012

To try and actually provide an insight to this question, you probably should be asking yourself ‘what am I doing to bring the finest I can bring?’, and that’s a HUGE question!!

Here is just one aspect of approaching this mammoth thought . . . and please know that I don’t profess to know it all, I am still a happy student in this symphony we call ‘life’. . .

In speaking from personal experience, when I started playing piano at the tender age of 14, you couldn’t ply me away from those ivory keys (yes, the piano I practised on, and still sits in the front room of my mother’s house, has actual ebony and ivory – and THAT song by Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder hums in your head…..) – there was nothing I loved more than to sit there and play music penned by the greats from centuries earlier.  To me, the piano brought conversation out of me that my spoken voice couldn’t – and although I didn’t come to know the true purpose of what music was designed for until later in my life, I sensed the connection that music played with the listener.

Have you ever been to the movies and been so moved by a scene that for a moment it overwhelms you – the visual image, the dialogue, and the underscore of the moment all converging to give you goosebumps and connecting you to the circumstance that is set before you. Although in your mind you know that it is just a movie, the confluence of all the contributing factors draw a connection out of you.

For me, one of these moments was when I went to see the film ‘Evita’, the version with Madonna in it – in one of the opening scenes, you see the funeral procession with tens of thousands lining the streets to pay respects, and the film score is so in your face that you can almost see the tears falling off the violin bows as they play their lament.

It is this kind of imagery that sharpens your awareness as a musician, and makes you realise that you can affect peoples thoughts and even circumstance for a short period of time (sometimes longer….)

Although technique, practice, application, composition and arrangement provide valuable insight into the mechanics of musicianship, it can be the amalgamation of these in the creative mindset of the musician that gives the spark of life which is so strongly sought after in today’s player.

So, I say this – you can spend years HEARING music, but what makes a musician is the LISTENING – finding the tapestry of conversation that is going on beneath the surface of the song or piece.

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