17 August, 2010

Fear factor in music

  1. Fear is one of the most natural things in music for a lot of people. Some of the greatest artistes (or for that matter, sportsmen or people in other walks of life) face it too. Only two kinds of people are generally fearless – the highly ignorant or the immensely knowledgeable. Great artistes are great not because they are fearless but because they overcome it by dint of hard work in the right direction and mental preparation with the correct attitude.

    Types of fear

    During one’s musical journey, an analytical person will notice several kinds of fear along the path! A few of them are given below:

    • Fear of each note (mostly long sustained plain notes) – some more than the other like Sa, Pa, Ga3, (the major third note) or high notes like S, R, G, M
    • Fear of some phrases
    • Fear of other friends/family members listening or walking in as we practice
    • Fear of other students in class (even those that are not better than us!)
    • Fear of guru
    • Fear of stage and audience
    • Fear of mike (how our own music will sound when amplified!)
    • Fear of peer artistes who may drop in on our concert
    • Fear of legendary artistes or other important people who may attend the concert

    Overcoming fear

    Each one of us can assess for ourselves which stage of fear are we in at a given point in time! However, all these can and must be overcome with quality guidance under great masters as well as more and more practice with lots and lots of patience. Patience does not mean just practicing for many hours each day. I am talking more about patience with respect to every note and phrase.

    A practitioner will see how he is able to eliminate each type of fear mentioned above step by step with the kind of patience I am speaking about.

    The approach has to be to practice until one feels good about the music first. Normally, the stages this would be:

    • After practicing a note/phrase for a few dozen times (it could be more or less based on how comfortable one is with a given phrase) one can get it correctly.
    • After a few more times after the stage of mere correctness, one will stop feeling conscious of it.
    • Only after a few more times will one stop being tense about it and start feeling comfortable with it (since one’s voice or hands start move more naturally).
    • Only after many more times will one feel confident about it when singing alone.
    • Only after several more times will one feel confident to sing it in front of others.
    • After some more time, others will also feel comfortable when they listen to us!

    Developing intimacy with each note/piece of music

    By getting to know the notes one by one and phrases one by one, an artiste will overcome this factor. Getting to know a note/phrase is akin to getting know a person or a family. There are many with whom our relationship is just a ‘Hi’ and a ‘Bye’. We will never know such people much. There are some with whom we spend hours, days, months or years and we get to know them better and better.

    So also with notes and phrases that we don’t spend time on. One will never get to know them well. Then how can one sing/play them well? Only when we spend lots of time on a note or phrase can we start knowing it better.

    With even more time, the note / phrase will also know us better! Sounds, weird? Actually, it is not. I will leave you all to introspect a bit about this to understand what I mean!

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