In very exciting news, it's time to look at the eighth and final step to improving your musicianship:
Have fun. Be silly. Step outside your zone.
Now, everyone has their own reasons for wanting to learn music. Some are in it for the long-haul and are chasing a career, some are hoping to be able to jam with their friends, some are simply wanting to sit in their room and play some favourite songs. Whatever the motivation, there are some serious benefits to not taking this whole thing so seriously.
Each and every one of us at some point has done something outside of our comfort zones. It might have been an extreme activity, like bungee jumping or skydiving, or it might have been something more grounded like asking someone on a date or cooking a new meal. Whatever the scenario, if you felt uneasy or reluctance to try, you were pushing up against the invisible barrier that stops you from taking risks. It can be a very useful barrier in life-or-death situations, however when it comes to being a musician, there's (hopefully) not a lot to fear.
Many of you have had moments like this in your lessons - maybe I asked you to play as fast as you can or as loud as you can or with your arms moving like elephant trunks. Maybe I intentionally had you make a bunch of mistakes! These moments were all designed to expand your comfort zone, to allow your musical reach to broaden.
The more you try new musical ideas and push your boundaries, the more adaptable, versatile and expressive you become in your playing.
Try picturing your comfort zone as a half-inflated balloon.
This here is a lovely balloon. Nothing wrong with it. But bigger is better, right? So we might put a few more breaths in to this balloon, growing it slightly.
Immediately, we have a bigger balloon. Fantastic! Our comfort zone is slightly stretched, we feel great. But what happens to our balloon after a day? It shrinks back.
Now we’re left with the same size balloon as before. Nothing has changed.
So how do we stretch our comfort zone so that it stays stretched? Easy! We blow the balloon up BIG. We stretch our comfort zone so far that when it shrinks after a day or two, it’s still bigger than it used to be.
The best way to stretch our comfort zone to this BIG size is to do things that make you feel ridiculous.
Play as LOUDLY as you can until it hurts your ears.
Play as QUIETLY as you can until you can’t hear it.
Play as QUICKLY as you can until you’re out of breath
Play as SLOWLY as you can until you feel like you’re in super-slow motion.
If you do any of these things properly, it should feel uncomfortable. It should make you laugh at yourself, you might feel embarrassed, and you should definitely feel silly. But in a few days time, when your comfort zone has shrunk a little, it will still be bigger than it used to be.
Things I've been watching/listening to this week: