SCP #118: Your Shape Like Coloured Glass
About a week before I started my music degree I met someone at a party who had studied a similar degree overseas. He told me to just do the first year, learn the essentials, and then quit. This is what he and his friends had done, and he said they were more successful and making "better" music than the people who stuck it out until the end. In his opinion everyone who finished the degree was brainwashed by the jazz education, and the music they were making was either boring, complicated or weird.
This was not the first or last time I had heard the argument that studying music will somehow brainwash you or destroy your natural talent. And perhaps I am brainwashed after four years of intensive study, but I strongly disagree with it. Before I took my music seriously I was incredibly frustrated, unable to realise the ideas inside my head because I didn't have the musical foundations. All the gaps in my knowledge were mostly filled in by the end of my first year of tertiary study, and I could have stopped there, but my artistic curiosity had been woken. The following years were spent exploring and expanding the limits of my imagination and skills, and I came out with a far richer, wider perspective on music, art and performance. Things I once considered boring, complicated or weird are now exciting and beautiful, and if I was brainwashed I don't regret it for a moment.
The real difficulty that has come with this expanded perspective is knowing where I fit in. It was easy to know my place inside the safe bubble of tertiary study, where everyone else is exploring their own creative and technical limits. Out in the real world, however, my music may well seem boring, complicated or weird, and my natural desire to be liked and accepted makes it difficult to maintain confidence in my abilities and artistic instincts. While I can create anything I like for this project, I still find myself judging my output, in particular the lack of "songs" I have produced recently.
I forced myself to write a song for this one, not because I wanted to, but because I was worried about doing too many random improvisations in a row. This kind of thinking is not helpful, and not really in the spirit of this project. Why does it matter if I continue to explore random improvisations, with the occasional song thrown in? Even if I only manage one "song" a week from now until the end of the year I will still end up with more than I could ever play at any one performance.