It’s a Sunday afternoon and I’m working on grad school stuff – statistics – and drinking decaf tea. I’ve been checking out some music therapy blogs and doing other music therapy-related things. But in a couple hours, I’ll have to make a pretty substantial mental shift. I’ll be on stage with my band, just like I was last night.
It’s an interesting shift, and there are many aspects of it that I could talk about here. But today I’m going to talk about what I get out of performing with my band.
The first and foremost benefit is definitely the creative outlet. While creativity is absolutely a component of therapy, it is always for the benefit of the client. That is how it should be. However, as an artist, I need to have an environment for expression and creativity as well. Performing my own music and improvising in front of an audience is refreshing, even cathartic. In a way, it’s my own therapy, and helps me cope with the week’s challenges and triumphs.
I am fortunate to play with a group of outstanding musicians. The aesthetic experience of playing with them is a weekly reminder of the importance of quality in music. We constantly push each other to be better musicians, and this transfers to my work with my clients.
My focus so far has been on my own experience of the music. My final point relates to the shared musical experience with the audience. Performance requires an audience. I don’t have the same internal experience playing alone or rehearsing as I do when there is an audience. The energy exchange between a band and the crowd is an incredible experience. There is a mutual give and take, and it can be exhilarating or depleting. When an audience is into what the band is doing, we play at a higher level. If the crowd is not responding, it can be really hard to be enthusiastic.
In summary, performing with a band is, for me, an important part of my musical identity. Instead of conflicting with my identity as a music therapist, it balances it. To conclude, here is a live recording of an instrumental song my band plays. It’s called Super Slow. Enjoy, and happy Sunday!