the Olympics and music
I was watching the Olympics last night with my daughter and I was struck with the similarities between competing for a medal, and performing and releasing music. Apart from the fact that a gold record and an Olympic gold medal are icons of success, I was thinking more along the lines of the “behind the scenes”…The downhill skier as an example spends their days, weeks, and years perfecting a downhill regime that allows them to better their time. Daily, persistently and, to a large degree anonymously, they train, tweak and work to shave another fraction of a second off of their time. As a musician writing songs, or playing an instrument – there is a lot of old fashioned work involved too. Learning theory, running scales, hours of repetitive practice to better understand a song, or countless listens to a song one tries to complete… I think in the ideal of both scenarios there is a romanticizing. A downhill skier out in the nature, experiencing the thrill of downhill, sun shining, birds chirping, awe inspiring mountain scenes…the musician by their bay window, sitting at the piano, passionately expressing the tongues of angels (or demons as the case may be). Granted – there are truths to both, and the analogy continues. Years go by – the big day arrives, and all is thrown into a few minutes of performance – for which the athlete has striven…do they rise?…are they defeated? How about music – the big record for which thousands are invested is released, does the public care? Is there a tap into the public in the form of a hit? Hit or stiff? Flight or flounder? And then – after time, back to the routine of improving, and, as a Christian musician, celebrating the mere act of creativity as given by a loving God. Too often the “big thing” is seen as the objective – and the process of acquiring it is miserable…I submit – that though the gold is certainly desirable and worth striving for, you had better enjoy the simple act of the process in which you strive ( and this applies to all disciplines artistic or not), because if you don’t – your arrival will only bring a bitter realization that that wasn’t what you really were seeking to begin with. Finally – anytime anyone ventures out of the socially accepted norms of occupation (occupation being defined as how you use your time – much more valuable than money) you need a will of uncommon veracity.