Mastery of the Art

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If you want to master your art and the use of your instrument, you will have to work a lot to get the vocabulary you need to speak your musical language. As a matter of fact; like a modern samurai you need both physical and psychological exercises to stay physically sharp and mentally alert. As you may already know, it is through an intense practice that you make the instrument an extension of your mind.

However, you still have to remember that technical practice is a way to achieve musical goals. It is not an end in itself. It is a way to express something; your musicality, your spirituality, your emotions, your poetry, or-whatever. Unfortunately many musicians fall into a kind of anxious or stressfull attitude where the only thing that counts is technique, fast playing and maximum musical knowledge. Will they use all this musical data one day? Not that much. At most they will use 20% of this knowledge as they will always be running into the same problems.

The most stubborn and obsessive of them will work so hard on their technique and learn so much musically that they will eventually try putting technical and flashy licks in every free bar of the tunes they play with their band. While they think that maximum technique will give them freedom, the consequence is that they are prisoners of all the technique they have learnt: they have no other choice but to play music in a ‘I-have-to-show-you-everything-I-learnt-otherwise-learning-them-was-useless’ way. That fact is they have to justify every hour and every dollar they spent in trying to learn everything about everything.

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For many reasons I don’t understand, musicians’ families can become a cult or a religion. Big rules are spread by big musical evangelists and gurus who call themselves experts and who are able to say things such as: ‘A true musician should listen and should be able to play every possible existing kind of music’. Amen. Isn’t that a crazy irrelevant rule ? If true, this rule implies that the greats; John Coltrane, Jimi and Eddie, Eric Clapton, Lars Ulrich and Jean-Michel Jarre aren’t or weren’t true musicians. This isn’t even a rule: this is a fancy trend any beginner could believe he has to blindly follow.