Create Magic In Your Music Through Discernment
By Laurel Black and Michael Cerreto
Leonard Bernstein wrote in his book The Joy Of Music, “The most rational minds in history have always yielded to a slight mystic haze when the subject of music has been broached, recognizing the beautiful and utterly satisfying combination of mathematics and magic that music is….We are still, in our own day, faced with this magical block. We try to be scientific about it, in our bumbling way— to employ principles of physics, acoustics, mathematics and formal logic. We employ philosophical devices like empiricism and teleological methods, but what does it accomplish for us? The “magic” questions are still unanswered.”
Music is magical - unexplainable - because it is deeply personal. From the mind of one, to the hands of another, to the ears of all, our impulse to relate to, contextualize, and personalize musical sound is natural, not yet understood, and one of the unique beautiful things about being human.
Giving Magic Room To Flourish
Magic in music needs room to surface and flow. Musicians need to create the appropriate inner state to enable the magic to surface—through insights, imagination, nuance, style, interpretation, freedom— by giving it room to flourish and express itself. If music is viewed and performed only through a technical lens, the magic - your magic - will never have room to grow from the inside out.
How do you give magic room to flourish inside of you? It starts with removing the “shoulds” as a musician. It starts by using the quality of discernment to create music based on your own values and personality.
Say No to the World’s Noise
Music and the world in general are full of suggestions, advice, “shoulds,” and opportunities. It doesn’t stop talking. But you don’t always have to listen. Learning when and when not to listen to the talkers of the world is a matter of discernment.
Discernment is the ability to grasp, comprehend, and judge which things of a particular kind are good or bad for you. Discernment takes knowing your values: what is most vital to you in order to maintain artistic growth and satisfaction.
Discernment Is Rooted In Paying Attention
Discernment is rooted in your values as a person and musician, and requires you to pay attention and notice. When you are presented with an artistic project or opportunity, ask yourself:
Does it cause me to pause and momentarily hold my breath when considering it?
Does it resonate with me in a way that I breathe freely with a smile, and have a feeling of excitement flow throughout my body?