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Be Mused by Susan M. Brackney
Be Mused : The Day the Music Died

Be Mused

The Day the Music Died

Singing EarDear Muse,

Seems like whenever I write music, my songs/compositions never get finished! I can't explain it. I just think that it stinks when I listen to what I have recorded, and then no longer want to work on it. I have been to school for music, have been playing for 15 years, and it just seems that it's getting worse. On top of that, yes, my ideas and creativity seem to be going down the drain. I just feel empty as far as music and creativity go. I could go on and on about this to you! I do to my wife all the time, but I'm getting nowhere. — Mr. No Music

I dearly love those forensic science shows on TV. Give me a bowl of popcorn and just let me soak up those blood spatter patterns, latent prints and so much petechial hemorrhaging. Secretly, I want to be a forensic evidence technician. I want to be able to have conversations like:

ME: "The fiber from the victim's clothing came from a 1970 Chevy Nova. Powder blue."

DETECTIVE: "That's amazing!"

ME: "But there's more. The driver clearly had a predilection for Ring Dings..."

As a result, it is no stretch for me to imagine a dozen uniformed officers descending on your house. The door's kicked in with a crash, you're surrounded, and the lieutenant screams: Put clarinet on the ground now!

Mr. No Music, when did you lose your joy? I think this is your problem. Do you remember why you took up music to begin with? Do you remember the excitement of your first decent composition?

For the sake of your general happiness and your marriage, you must take a vacation from your music. Don't touch your instrument for a month. Don't belabor the topic with your poor wife, and try not to pester yourself with worries about your seeming incompetence.

Instead, relax! If you experiment with new activities you never would've considered before, you're bound to find renewed inspiration. Take a cooking class or try painting a still life or two. Whatever new activity you choose, don't expect perfection. Just feel free to learn and explore. When you think the time is right, approach your composition with this relaxed attitude.

Also, head straight to the nearest nursing home and play for the residents there. They'll love the company, and I bet seeing their appreciative smiles will make you feel like a magician and not just another musician.

But what if you still feel the same about your progress? Well, after all this time, perhaps your love for the clarinet (or whatever it is that you play) has run its course. In that event, it may be time to compose with a new instrument. A fresh perspective might give your creative battery the jumpstart it needs. Perhaps you've secretly ogled the oboe? You can keep your wife and take up with a brand new love. Here's to another 15 years! •

© 2001 Susan M. Brackney. All rights reserved.

Susan M. Brackney Need a little help finding your way on the road less traveled? Susan M. Brackney, author of The Lost Soul Companion will try to solve your creative quandaries. More »