Why should I practice music when I don’t have a performance lined up? asked my friend’s 8 year old daughter. Sometimes kids ask questions that we adults don’t think about. We just do things because we know or have been taught that THAT is the right way to do it. I have never questioned music practice. To me it quickly became a habit. A habit that I have continued for 40+ years. For me it is like brushing my teeth, brushing my hair etc- I never questioned why I was supposed to do it.
So this question made me think. After a short pause I told her that you need to practice to become good at it. Then I thought, was that really why I practice? That is one of the reasons, yes- but is that the sole reason? Perhaps not. However I was unable to think of a reason why I did practice daily.
When I did not find an answer I rearranged the question and thought about how music practice enhances my life and how my life would be without music. Here I was able to come up with answers very quickly. Some emotional, some scientific, some logical.
So why do I practice music or why should one practice music without a gig lined up?
Scientifically music makes you feel happy. Practicing music produces dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins – neurochemicals that make us smarter and happier. Music is a modality that can be accessed by all parts of brain.
For me personally though, music is meditation. When I concentrate on notes, I don’t think about those 100’s of to dos. I think about creating, singing, exploring and bringing out emotions attached with notes. When we immerse ourselves in music, the outside noise dies out. When I hear the cracks in my voice, the imperfections, the rawness or that one sublime sustained note that stays elevated, free floating, taking and rising me with it, I feel an amazing sense of calm and bliss. That is the moment I cherish. That is the moment when nothing else matters- not how many people are listening, not how great of musician I will be if I practice, not how much money I would make or not make as a musician. At that point all that matters is my own resonating voice and that one note that I wish I can sustain forever. So music for me is bliss and happiness.
Another reason why one should practice music if because Music becomes your friend. Music to me has been a life long friend and I really wish it becomes a true friend to all those who embrace it. Music has come to my rescue in my struggles, sorrows and sufferings, cheering me up, relaxing my brain, giving me something to look up to. There have been days when I struggled to make sense of the world. There have been days when I have felt so lonely that singing and hearing my own voice felt reassuring. It was indeed hard to practice music then but looking back it is perhaps the reason I was able to come out of all that emotional hardship. Music has been my life force and it could easily become yours if you embrace it.
Music practice brings contentment to life. It nurtures and nourishes my soul. It is spiritual for me as it connects me with who I truly am. It keeps me grounded. It is my happy place. Getting gigs, getting paid, getting my name out there, praises, awards, honors etc are just extra perks.
So coming back to the question, why practice music without a gig lined up: short answer – for yourself.
Kamini Natarajan is a kirtan singer, yogini and author based in Los Angeles area. To learn more about her visit http://www.kaminimusic.com
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