It’s around 7am on Monday. I wake up to go to the gym, but instead lay in bed, writing lyrics. I dreamt about something painful-a memory that is skewed by my forever moving and active mind. “I have to write this down, it could be a song,” I groggily think to myself. I avoid Facebook, the news, any notifications that come up on my phone so I can focus on the most important aspect of my life: making music.
Here’s the deal: I live on Long Island, commute a total of four hours to work in the Financial District working at a start-up record label (yay 6/8 Records!), perform in Brooklyn with an incredible concert band, Grand Street Community School, and go to school part time at Aaron Copland School of Music. I also teach music to younger students, and I do eat, yes! Having a busy schedule is how I thrive, but lately inspiration has been sparse. I have been more emotional, feeling sick, like I cannot release my inner thoughts.
Sometimes after a stressful day, I walk past my keyboard. It looks like a daunting task. Something that I know will make my body finally release and revive, but the thought of perfectionism flows through my head. “I need to sit down with a perfect song” echoes
in my head. But it’s like medication, and I need to take it. It might not be perfect, it might sound terrible. Something from my past might pop in there as I write piano licks and sing lyrics that are flowing out of my brain, but it’s allowing my emotions to come out. I feel in power but raw. I feel sick but relieved.
I recently watched “Lady Gaga: Five Foot Two”, and saw someone I looked up to in physical pain, emotionally distressed, and hitting her producer’s car while rushing to record her tracks (eeek Mark Ronson!). I saw a human being making music and pushing through her darkest points in life. As Ms. Gaga states so eloquently:
“They say it is like open heart surgery sometimes, making music… every time it is invasive” – Lady Gaga, GAGA: Five Foot Two
The invasive part of music–and yes, it is fair to compare yourself to an international superstar such as Lady Gaga–is to be human and emotional during the creative process. This means taking care of your body, dealing with stressful schedules, practicing, writing, but also means being with friends, family, and being there for those who need you. It’s a lot on the creative process, and as creatives, the emotional side can take over the logical. However, watching a musician like Lady Gaga deal with meetings, press events,
recording, promoting her album, working on the Superbowl halftime show, you see her letting her emotions out, then getting right back to work! It is truly inspirational.
Here is my advice to all musicians and artists out there:
- Do not bottle your emotions:
- You can let out your sadness/anger/deflated feelings in lyrics or playing your instrument.
- You will avoid meltdowns during
meetings, sessions, anywhere that will show that you are not stable enough to work. Sometimes you might get bad news during a meeting, and you just need to cry. GO CRY! Excuse yourself and go to the bathroom. Do not start yelling at your assistant for no reason during a meeting.
- Get rest: Yes, music is a 24/7 ordeal, but to say, “hey, I need to nap/rest my body/get a heating pad so my body doesn’t fall apart” is completely appropriate. Some of us are still in the mind-set that we need to push as far as we can to get to our goal, but seeing as many stars are taking a break due to mental and/or physical issues, take it from them. Try to take a break. You’re body and brain will thank you for that hour power nap, that drawing break, or even that two hour time to eat and play with your pets. You will thank your mind, body, and soul.
- Stop being your worst enemy: There are critics, internet “trolls”, even fellow musicians that will put you and your art down. Why are you doing this to yourself? Of course, this is easier said than done. We creatives are critical on ourselves and our art, but if we treat ourselves like [insert your least favorite human ever], how much creativity will get done? How far can you go? Get those negative thoughts out! Find a way that works for you! For me, it is taking deep breaths and counting 10 things I am grateful for; including clothes on my back and being able to afford food.
- Just write!: Deadline? Project you are not thrilled with? Haven’t written in a *gasp* week? No sweat! Technology has provided us with Music memos, writing programs on your phone, and even writing programs have become more obtainable with subscription-based payments. Also, there are still pencils and manuscript easily accessible! Take advantage, and write for ten minutes. Twenty is even better! And don’t think, just do. You never know what will come out, and the beauty of composing and creating music, is that it is something that is internally created, spewed into the outside world, and interpreted as needed. All you got to do is push yourself to write for as long as you can! After a while, it’ll become an organic experience, even if you miss a day or two because of life.