We all want to belong. Being part of a group is an essential part of the human experience. Social groups play a significant role in our total health and well-being. Finding your place in a musical family or community is one of the most gratifying parts of being a musician. It provides you with a sense of identity. But like any family, you have to have some common ground or a legacy to build on. You have to create or play music together, in real time. Playing together live and in the moment is the greatest experience you can have as a musician. (It is also beneficial to your health). Having strong musical roots and an awareness of the great musicians and traditions that have come before you, is vital to becoming a complete musician. It makes you a better player and puts you and your fellow musicians on common ground.
"My music had roots which I'd dug up from my own childhood, musical roots buried in the darkest soil." - Ray Charles
Who are your influences? What are your musical roots?
Do you have many influences?
These are questions you should ask yourself. These are the aspects that create your musical identity. There is so much musical information available online. Listen to many styles of music. Read interviews from musicians, critics and authors. Investigate musical styles that really interest you. Obviously learn your instrument and all of the facets of music, to the best of your ability. (Thank you Torrins!). Search out live music in your community.Interact with the musicians. Ask questions. Get involved! Younger musicians,check out older musicians for suggestions and guidance. Older musicians, be a mentor to the younger musicians and respect the music of their generation.There is a lot to be learned from each other.
No artist initially arrives fully formed.
There will always be many influences and musical roots within their style.
I'm not a star. I'll never be a Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley or a Ray Charles. I'm just an imitator, man. I'm doing a very bad imitation on the bass of Jerry Jemmott, Bernard Odum, Jimmy Fielder, Jimmy Blanton, Igor Stravinsky, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, James Brown, Charlie Parker, the cats, man. I'm just backing up the cats.?- Jaco Pastorius
In 2013, Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana) put up a post on Facebook commenting on the current glut of music competition shows on TV and the effect they are having on the next generation of musicians. In his post, (I am paraphrasing and without the F-Bombs!) he says that young musicians should just get together and PLAY! I completely agree with his post. The best way to learn to play music is to, wait for it, - PLAY MUSIC! Cover music from bands or artists you identify with. I still remember playing along with the Earth, Wind and Fire Gratitude album. I pretended to be Verdine White and tried to play his bass lines. (Especially Shining Star, Africano/Power and New World Symphony!) Years later, whenever I play, I know his influence is still in my musical DNA.
"Like family, we are tied to each other. This is what all good musicians understand." -Billy Joel
Get with musicians who have similar musical interests as you. Or,dissimilar from you! Learn from each other. Try writing your own music. After you have been playing awhile, broaden your musical horizons. Incorporate other styles into your music. You can tackle more complex music when you have more experience. Always work on building musical relationships and always keep an open mind, heart and ears. I wish you the best of luck in cultivating your musical roots and family.
Now go create some MUSIC!
The importance of being social and belonging to groups:
Earth, Wind and Fire: