"All type of knowledge ultimately means self knowledge" - Bruce Lee At some point in our lives music gave us some sort of feeling inside that drew us to it. It's this feeling that we can always return to keeping us motivated or reminding us why we started in the first place. For me, when I was a child I watched the Lion King often and my least favorite scene was when Simba finds Mufasa after Scar kills him. The scene starts off dead silent with Simba crying out for his father. No music plays, only the sounds of Simba and another animal running away. As soon as he sees his father the music starts. I can still remember my ears widening, trying to hear anything that might give some hope of a happy outcome. As you know, that is not the case in this scene and the music definitely would not let you forget it. So, on one particular night after watching the movie again, I woke up in the middle of the night and the silence of the apartment brought me right back to that scene with Simba. Then, clear as day the entire score from that scene started to play in my head and ring in my ears. I started reciting Simba's lines and just started bawling in the middle of the living room. Once the scene was over i went back to bed and cried myself to sleep.
Now, I'm not saying that everyone's experience is just as, more or less dramatic, but whatever it was it hit us in a memorable way. To me, I've been trying to get to that emotional state ever since I consciously and unconsciously pursued music. I still listen to childhood favorites to keep me connected to my younger self; Christmas music is always a great source of that. I practice while in that state and practice going in and out of that state. It's hard sometimes because certain things I hear or see remind me of triggers for the state and I can unintentionally go in and react emotionally to it. It is also hard because if it's an effective reminder my mind will hold onto that sound or image even if I don't want it to. Just now, even, my girlfriend was watching a movie that had a child crying out his sister's name because she got hit by a car in the rain. She was ok, thank God. I don't think I could've handled any other outcome at the time I was writing this, but when I heard that scream I almost lost it. Playing musical notes and things, you don't necessarily need emotion to do that. Being a musician, you need to be in touch with every aspect of your emotional spectrum in order to connect with people.
Actors have to do this or else their characters seem fake, so they subject themselves to feeling all ranges of emotions to relate to the audience. We have to allow ourselves to do the same. I can't connect with someone who's lost someone close to them if I haven't experienced that feeling or allowed myself to connect to someone or an event that emulates that. I'm not saying make yourself cry all the time but do be open to feeling all emotions, even if they don't feel good. No, I don't only practice in a state of emotional sadness. Mostly it's a state of the hearing that I experienced as a child, hearing the vastness of the space around me, the depth and expansive quality of even the smallest room, feeling completely connected to the environment as if it were an extension of myself. It's there that all my practice becomes enhanced, stimulated, and meaningful.
So, when the emotional state is on, all I think about is the feeling itself. Yes, I might be listening to what I'm doing but really all I'm thinking about is portraying the feeling or the character itself. You know the feeling at Christmas where you get that warm fuzzy feeling, being with friends or family, anyone who's dear or close to you? Picture that plus the feeling of being under a warm blanket on a cold winter night. Picture both of those plus the feeling of hearing a nostalgic song you used to listen to all the time. Now add the way your mouth waters at your favorite food, and the feeling of a nice cold drink after you just finished eating. Did I mention the feeling of getting something you were really excited to buy or receive from a friend. Let's not forget that feeling of seeing someone you haven't seen for a very long time, a close friend, relative or significant other. Lastly, for now, picture yourself in an open field, standing, looking up at the warm night sky. It's filled with stars, only the quiet sound of crickets chirping in the background. You feel your eyes trying to capture the vastness of space, and feel yourself falling backwards, even though you're not moving at all. That's how I feel whenever I play music in that complete space of emotion.
People would ask me why I'm so excited about music. It's because all of those feelings, and many more, are mixed together, stored, let out and continually replenished moment by moment, whether I'm physically playing music or not. I can slip into this space at any time I want, with or without a stick in my hand. With all the technique I've managed to acquire, I don't even need it anymore to get to the place I want, but I'm trying everyday to get more of it to express the new things the space introduces to me. Basically, I'm still that five year old kid, crying in the middle of the living room, with music in his ears and uncontrollable emotions spewing out of his heart, making any sound necessary in order to express the unspeakable. I hope you can find your reasons and motivations for anything you do and really explore every aspect of it. Free yourself to be adventurous and learn about yourself more. The more you know you, the easier it will be to show yourself through your music. Happy searching!