where music comes from and the process of becoming a musician

Someone ought to start a blog about where music comes from and the process of becoming a musician . . .

How does someone become a musician? Is playing an instrument and being a musician the same thing?

From the ages of around six to thirteen, I took “official” piano lessons. Weekly meetings. Daily practices (or less frequent). Theory books. The whole nine yards. But I hated it. I never looked forward to practice. It was a forced thing.

So I quit when my mom finally let me. And I was out of piano for a year or two. When all of a sudden, something strange happened. I suddenly wanted to learn to play the piano. I wanted to be a musician.

The piano, my instrument of preference.

I started lessons again, this time with a different teacher. He was passionate, and seemed to stress practical things over theory. I loved it. I started learning chords. I started playing for fun. I started playing with the worship team and wherever I could. In that one year of lessons, I probably learned more than the whole eight years before.

One day in particular, I asked my teacher to play his favorite song. He sat down and played one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, this thriving, driving song. When he finished, he confessed that he had written the song! What?! That was one of the coolest things that’s ever happened in my music life.

I kept playing, but not long after, school work started to take over my life (aka, I went to college). But just a few months into college, I met a friend who played the piano by ear. And, once again, music jumped into my heart. Watching him sit down and play inspired me so much. I started trying to play by ear. I would just sit down, and at first it was slow coming.

Today, I can sit at the piano and just play a song that comes from, well, I don’t know where. I wish I could have tracked this transformation from being someone who plays an instrument to a musician along the way, but I can only reflect on things in retrospect.

Just this week, two different friends shared two different quotes with me about where music comes from and what being a musician is. So I leave you with them:

“Music comes from a place we don’t know. It sort of comes through the fingers and toes.” – Chris Martin

“My goal is to live the truly religious life, and express it in my music. If you live it, when you play there’s no problem because the music is part of the whole thing. To be a musician is really something. It goes very, very deep. My music is the spiritual expression of what I am – my faith, my knowledge, my being.” – John Coltrane