Why Do You Play?

Why do you play? Think about it for a minute. What is your motivation in playing an instrument, singing, recording, or mixing music? Why do you do it?

When I was younger, particularly throughout my high school and college years, I had quite the ego about my playing. Along with that ego came a huge chip on my shoulder. There was nothing I despised more in the world than musicians I viewed as being posers. You know, the guys who learned a John Mayer song or two just so they could impress the girls. It really irked me that they got attention, while the “truly talented” guys who slaved away for hours working on scales to improve their speed, dexterity, and songwriting, were all but ignored. Whenever those guys came around, there was nothing I wanted to do more than show them how it was done.

I really hope my younger self wasn’t alone in these sentiments… I hope this is something others can relate to. If not, younger Tim was a real jerk.

I’ve been thinking about this because recently I was at an event with my wife and one of the guys pulled out his guitar with the intention of impressing the women in the room. When he asked if there were any requests, something by U2 was the first response. Unfortunately for this poor chap, he’d never taken time to learn a single tune from one of the greatest bands of the past 4 decades. My wife looked over at me, wondering if I was going to show him how it was done (I may have used All I Want Is You to win her over 9 years ago). Instead, I sat back quietly and enjoyed the evening. I like to think I’ve matured a bit.

As with anything in life, I think musicians have varying degrees of devotion to their craft. Some play purely for fun, or to impress girls. For others, music becomes much more, it becomes an intimate part of who they are. For the better part of my life, music has been more to me than just a hobby. It has been a part of my identity and consequently, I really struggled with individuals who didn’t take it as serious as I did. Heck, to this day, I have several good friend who won’t even start music based discussions with me because I’m far too opinionated.

Back to the initial question. Why do I play? Because I have to. Because it’s part of me. Because it makes me happy.

Why do you play? That’s really up to you. With a bit more experience, possibly maturity behind me, I have learned that music is for everyone. Who am I to judge someone for his/her motivations? One of the things I love about music and musicians is that there is room for everyone. From the woodwind and brass sections in the high school band to the metal heads shredding in their garage, music has a place of acceptance for everyone.

In this month’s eZine, we have several great blog posts from musicians who vary in interests and styles, but each of them have great insights and advice for musicians at all levels. As an editorial note, I hope that our content is inviting to all and isn’t plagued with young Tim’s ego.

We’d love to hear what you think? If you have suggestions, comments, or would like to write a blog post of your own, shoot me an email at tim@l2pnet.com. We’re always looking for new columnists.