The discipline of music is unlike any other. In fact, when a panel of experts in a variety of fields were asked the question, “If we were to make contact with an alien species, what one thing would best represent the human race?”, they overwhelmingly chose music.
Music was chosen because it combines three essential human traits: physical skill, cognitive understanding, and creativity.
Physical Skill (motor skills)
Developing physical skill in music is much like athletic training. Practicing to a metronome is very similar to lifting weights. You start out with a controllable weight (a low BPM), and move up throughout the weeks in small increments, always challenging yourself, but never using too much weight (practicing too fast). There’s no substitute for consistent practice when developing motor skills. You can’t cram for running a marathon. Daily physical practice is important.
Cognitive Understanding (theoretical)
Music has a theoretical system developed originally by Pythagoras (remember A2 + B2 = C2 ??). He envisioned a mathematical labeling system on tones he created on a flute-like instrument. Fast forward to today, we have a comprehensive system developed to explain an label harmonic movement, melodic development, and rhythmic complexities. When learning any musical instrument, cognitive understanding is essential. We call this system “Music Theory”.
Advantages of understanding Music Theory
• Communication with other musicians
• More articulation
• Knowing the “Road Map”
• More creative options
Certain things with practice must be kept to a schedule. However, creativity can happen at any hour, sometimes when you least expect it. Much like a surfer waiting for a killer swell, creativity comes in waves and you must “ride the wave” when it comes. Creativity can be fleeting, so it’s important to take advantage of inspiration as it happens.
That being said, many artists have success “scheduling” creativity. For example, songwriters will journal for 15 minutes in the morning to get the creative juices flowing. Others will try to write a song a day at a given time. With this approach, not every lyric or song is going to be the next big hit, but it can hone your creative skills for when true inspiration arrives.