The only way we get better at anything is to practice it. It’s part of what many refer to as “doing the work”. This may seem kind of obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I hear “I’ll do _______ when I get better.” And then I have to reply with “The only way to get better at __________ is to do it. It may not be as good as you want it to be right now, but it will get better the more you do it.”
Because, as much as it kinda sucks sometimes, while you’re learning, you have to be ok with doing something badly for a while.
Much of my creative work outside of Brave Musician has to do with combining two distinct artistic mediums together - music and art. Currently, I call the performance of this work the “Monica Shriver’s Abstract Art Creative Music Experience” and it involves original compositions, artwork, and improvisations. Many of it is inspired by my life experiences. It’s a very unique concept that I have embraced as a huge part of my artist voice. But it didn’t just appear fully formed - the concept has been 4 years in the making (and that’s only if you don’t count the all the experiences I have had leading up to that point). I go into detail about this whole thing on the podcast, but for the purpose of this blog post, I want to take you back to the first time I tried to do this… and, honestly, it was pretty bad.
In May of 2016, I had surgery which prevented me from playing music for 6 weeks. I had just ended a 9 year relationship, was crashing at a friends house, and had no idea what was going to happen next. I had two things that made that time in my life bearable at the time. The first was the hockey playoffs, which meant that pretty much every other day there was a game to watch. The second, was I started painting again. I had been painting off and on most of my life, but this time it really seemed to stick.
I believe that part of it was that I had something to say, and my usual medium, music, was unavailable, so painting became a way for me to process and experiment, and I needed that. At the time, I had no intention of being an “artist”.
I mentioned these two things, because the first composition I did that included a painting, was based off the Conference Finals that year between the San Jose Sharks and the St. Louis Blues. It was a great hockey series that went all the way to a game 7. The painting was the first of what eventually became a “hockey rivalry series” and featured colors from both teams. The music composition that went with it was a song titled “Game Seven Riff”. (see what I did there?)
My quartet performed the music with the painting in August of that year. And I don’t think we ever performed it again. It’s not a great composition. (and I can say that, since I composed it.) But it got me started. The seed had been planted. I wanted to do this more. The concept had to begin somewhere. Concepts are like children - they have to grow and we have to feed them. This led to more compositions and more paintings, some of them I really love and others were only a part of the bigger process. Some I may go back to and change now that I know more, others are left alone, never to be heard by an audience ever again.
My point is that we have to do things to get better at doing things… and music is the same way. The only way to know how to do better is to do it and learn. So be Brave and get going!