Brad Mehldau happens to be one of my favorite musicians. The biggest reason for this is that he is far from just a jazz pianist. This becomes apparent when reading the articles he has posted on his website. His ability to emote with his music is supplemented by his articulate use of words. Brad is a great example of an artist whose music comes from more than just exercises and practice. His music comes from his personality, stories, etc. His latest album, “Highway Rider,” actually features a story that he wrote to go along with the music. Here is a link to a great article he wrote on the wisdom that is often conveyed in music and where it comes from. (you can find links to many of his other articles here as well).
For years now, I have struggled with the fact that competition is often a large part of the music business. But it took me until now that it has absolutely NOTHING to do with music itself, unless you make it that way. One thing I absolutely hate is when people play music in order to impress people. You know what it usually ends up sounding like? Like a bunch of immature crap. Take a soccer player for instance (soccer happens to be one of my other loves). The greatest players are fully capable of using all the tricks in the book, but they only use them when necessary. They are team players, meaning they do what is best for the team, rather than doing a bunch of moves to get the crowd going and going for goal themselves even if a better opportunity exists for another player. Music is just like soccer. You have to play what is best for the music, not what is best for yourself. The mature musician saves his tricks for the right moment rather than spewing them all over the place to get a reaction from the crowd. Too many musicians end up being the immature soccer player! How does this all relate to competition? Well, the reason people turn into show-offs is because they feel competitive! Forget competition when you’re playing music. That’s NOT EVEN CLOSE to what your music should be about. Play music to evoke emotion. Play music to send a message. Play music because you LOVE PLAYING MUSIC.