It’s an open secret. You practice scales, harmonies, melodies and all sorts of musical materials. But what is the element that gets you from point A to point B? Everyone knows there is ton of musical information to learn. But what is it that actually gets you from the practice room onto the gig and playing like a musician, like an artist?


I wish the answer were more authoritative sounding. But, all things being equal, it is your love of the music that will propel you forward into playing more musically and at a professional level. You will play at an artistic and a compelling level only if you truly love to play your instrument and if you truly love the music that you are playing.


When a musician is fully invested in developing as an artist and also genuinely loves the music and loves to play his instrument then there is something there that acts as a binding force to help put all of the necessary information in its place.


When you are playing gigs and you are playing in a positive frame of mind, ie, let’s play this stuff the best as we can, let’s learn, let’s really knock it out of the park tonight, etc, then your love for the music and the enthusiasm that you are bringing to the gig has a very interesting effect. During performances your attention is naturally directed to the parts of the music that need it most. The musician’s enthusiasm for the music actually works to focus his mind for a more musical, creative, and artistic performance. 


I don’t mean to throw out radical statements here. It’s just how I see things. After all of the hard work and the planning and the objectivity that goes into elevating yourself as an artist, when coming to understand how you actually attained your position (however meager!) you might find that there’s a bit of the a-rational element sitting right in the middle of it all.


Nobody would ever say that you don’t have to bust your knuckles in the practice room. But when you bring genuine enthusiasm to your musical performance you are bringing something that is just as important to your development as any other single musical element. 


Like I said, it’s an open secret.