When I was in music college, an instructor once talked about the importance of getting the ‘matters of the heart’ in order. The ‘heart’ being both the physical and the emotional sides. In his analogy, our music skills are like a well-tuned racing car, capable of amazing feats that can astound millions with its speed, dexterity and beauty; but then a car is only as good as its driver, and an incompetent driver can never take full advantage of the true potential of a race car.
Now this man wasn’t a spiritual man by any means, but he brought up a very salient point that there is a need for musicians to take care of the physical, emotional & spiritual aspects of our lives.
Being a young man myself at the time, I heard him… but I never really HEARD him.
Many years later I came across this chart while studying Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People that rekindled that notion again. Yes, yes… some musicians actually read useful stuff! Sometimes.
Briefly, these are 4 boxes that one would use to classify and prioritize all our tasks at hand. We only have 24 hours a day after all.
The easy one to figure out would be Box 1 – Urgent & Important. That’s a no brainer. Preparation for tomorrow’s show just cannot be avoided, can it? So that goes into Box 1.
The blurred lines appear when we’re trying to decide what to put in Box 2 – Not Urgent & Important and Box 3 – Urgent & Not Important. Which box would you put these in:
- Going out with after a gig for late night/early morning supper
- Getting some good night’s sleep
- Doing something for a friend’s ‘urgent’ deadline
Some people would do stuff in Box 3 first, on the basis that these things are ‘urgent’. In musician-lingo, these would include ‘showing up for everybody else’s show’, ‘updating social media every ten minutes’ & ‘taking every possible booking’, among others. And then we leave no time for important (but not necessarily urgent) stuff like practicing our craft, exercising, taking care of spiritual & family matters, and taking a step back every now and then to see where our career is going.
While Box 3 can be ‘urgent’, I have learned that Box 2, if left unattended for too long can wield devastating side effects on my own music. On a personal basis, I find that time and again I am useless as a musician & songwriter when things are not in order. Without exercise, I am often just too tired/lazy/uninspired to do any work of great quality. And really, who can really be creative when they just had a stupid quarrel with the wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend? On a deeper note… if music is supposed to be a reflection of your soul, what music are you putting out when your spiritual self is a barren wasteland?
Those who know me well will know that I am not a ‘preacher’ type. I do, however, see a lot of my friends in this music industry who are just filled with busy-ness… and truth be told, I sometimes worry for them. We are all traveling down the same path after all!
Hey, I’m not asking you guys to do a 180 degree change! (Altho’ for some of you that might do wonders, hehe!) But I am hoping that those who read this can take a step back, prioritize, learn to say ‘no’ every once in a while, and get the ‘soul’ back in order again.
Then maybe we will get to see more musical ‘racing cars’ driven at full potential on our industry roads.
So from both the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’, we can keep the Music Real!