Are You Chopping off your Own Branches?

I am more than happy to disperse advice to musicians. Frank and I have produced so many records and I have written seriously over a thousand songs (some pure junk) and some for other musicians. As I have also mentioned, I have been a ghost writer on records where I am not allowed to say I wrote the lyrics. I’ve basically been at it for a long time. Music used to be an external hobby in my life which turned into a career. My view of that was very flawed though.

I get a lot of people emailing me asking me for some music industry advice and I am more than happy to share my latest view on my career/hobby; it isn’t actually a hobby or a career after all. It’s an appendage.

Something I hear often is how musicians tell me how they have sacrificed so much for their music. It’s a word I am quick to react to; sacrifice. I would encourage any artist, writer or musician to ditch the word when describing their art. Sacrifice means there is a choice involved. Perhaps you have to choose work over music; that seems pretty standard.

Instead, I encourage artists to view their art, music or writing as an appendage of themselves. When life is really hard and you need to eat, you don't cut off your arm, right? If music is part of everyday life regardless of whether people hear it or not and it's as natural as an appendage, you don't even entertain the option to remove it. It’s not even in the equation.

For me, music isn’t a choice. Once I realized that it wasn’t a hobby or career to begin with, it was able to fly without my pressure.

If our art is way of life as opposed to pressuring it to "do" something, I believe we can enjoy the new freedom.

That is an example of a non-physical or detached appendage which still moves with us. People who connect deeply with their friends or animals understand this concept also. There are people who we have picked to be a part of our life and we wouldn’t prune them from the tree because it’s just not an option. People who have dedicated their lives to helping animals quite often don’t choose to do that, it chooses them.

I believe when we let someone or something choose us, it’s a deeper connection. I see this with children whose parents want them in Karate and yet they walk by the music store where a giant magnet from a guitar is calling them on their walk to Karate class. A child cannot explain why an instrument draws them in, it just does. If it calls to them and they accept it, it becomes like a branch on their tree. When we wander about thinking of what we should do to feel connected to something or someone, it almost always feels disconnected and therefore, we can ditch it at any time, easily without guilt or much effort.

I gave this musician’s advice to a friend yesterday and he said, “call me crazy I already feel better about my music simply by removing the fight from the equation.”

I love hearing that. I feel like he can now begin a really solid relationship with his music because he let go a bit. I am super excited when I hear that.

Ok, so there is a case of things which we shouldn’t prune. If music truly is a part of your life, even if you must have it cranking from your speakers every day, how do you feel when you chop the branch off?

I maintain a musician or artist can’t cut off their own arm. They bleed to death. Something inside us stops the saw blade from cutting in. I think if our art is such a big part of who we are, the spirit will protect it. If we damage the limb, the spirit will help repair. I found that the spirit would do it loudly…with all the tools in its toolbox so I couldn’t ignore that it was under repair. When I would try to walk away from the art, it called me back. It’s a healthy relationship that can’t be ignored unlike all the codependent relationships I have had, we grow together helping each other. It frees me, I set it free as well.

My own relationship with music has helped me to strengthen the relationships I have had with others too. I don’t put pressure on friends, they don’t put pressure on me. I do what I can to let them grow, they give me the freedom to grow. I don’t control the music now, I let it flow. I don’t put heavy demands on it.

Of course there are still parts of my tree that need pruning. I just need to be careful not to cut off the ones which share my main arteries. ;)

Too tired to fight even if I wanted to…energized because I choose not to…such a cool reward.

Karen :)

“A stricken tree, a living thing, so beautiful, so dignified, so admirable in its potential longevity, is, next to man, perhaps the most touching of wounded objects.” Edna Ferber

A sure cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree.” ~Spike Milligan

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