The Musical Life Isn't Only About Music
“Music can’t be everything.” - James Blake, “Meet You In The Maze”
When we feel called to pursue music in any way, shape, or form, it’s essential to make it a priority in our lives. If we don’t, it’s likely we will be left feeling unhappy, and unfulfilled. But this doesn’t mean music should be the only thing we care about and focus on. On the contrary, the most rewarding musical life will embrace and nurture all other areas we value as well.
If we want to be well-rounded musicians, and people, we need to cultivate a life filled with a variety of activities, and experiences. In a livestream released after the passing of legendary guitarist Jeff Beck, Rick Beato and Tim Pierce reflect on his life and legacy. While discussing Jeff Beck’s love of cars, Tim explains how it is “...an example of a life in music; which… is a lot of things. It’s not just the music. It’s other hobbies… it’s something that lasts decades, and not just five years. He’s a great example of that.”
We can create a richer musical experience for ourselves by developing non-musical interests, and supporting other parts of our life we value. This might include volunteering within our community, taking a class to learn a new skill, or finding a fun physical outlet—like bassist Janek Gwizdala, who is an avid tennis player. Those who make their living outside of music can gain tremendous satisfaction from building a worthwhile career; one that can even support their musical endeavors. Spending quality time with friends and family is also incredibly beneficial.
Sometimes other areas of interest can intersect with our music, offering us additional ways to express ourselves. Many musicians use writing as a vehicle to share what they’ve learned, whether through blogs, articles, educational books, or, like bassist Victor Wooten, novels. Others will dive into art or animation, creating unique images and videos to share alongside their original music, ideas, or stories—like guitarist Ben Levin.
The idea is to always keep in mind the big picture. Though music’s importance to us means it will take precedence over a lot of other activities, it can’t be all we have. Life has a multitude of rich experiences to offer, many of which will help us learn and grow as musicians, and as people. Whether we spend quality time with friends or family, challenge ourselves by learning a new skill, build a regular reading practice, or stay physically active, there are countless avenues to explore, and benefit from.