Monday, May 27, 2019

Having a “no music day” can improve your music-making

I’ve just returned from a week away. During that time I heard virtually no music and didn’t sing a single note.

It got me thinking about how having a break from music can reinvigorate our music-making practice.

I remember reading years ago that Kraftwerk had one day each week when they listened to no music at all. It seemed strange at the time, but it’s made more sense over the years.

We’re bombarded by music all the time. It soon becomes background noise that we don’t pay attention to.

We stop noticing things and need ever-increasing volume or musical tricks to attract our attention.

When I was away last week, I didn’t miss music at all. When I did hear any, I realised how bad most of it is: advertising jingles, loud TVs, bad buskers, tinny mobile phones.

This musical fast has heightened my hearing and I’ve become more aware of all the sounds around me. I am more conscious of when music is playing and can choose whether to focus on it or not. Straightforward singing (unison or simple harmonies) delights me again. I don’t automatically turn the radio on without thinking. I choose when and how to listen to music (or not).

I’m sure that when I get back to song arranging and choosing repertoire, I will be refreshed, more open and sensitive.

Taking a step away from what we do also applies to other areas of music-making:

  • if you sing and perform regularly, take time out to attend more concerts
  • if you arrange songs, unpick other people’s arrangements to see how and why they work
  • if you teach songs, attend singing workshops from time to time
  • if you conduct choirs, join a choir yourself to be on the receiving end
  • if you write songs, sit in silence every now and then and listen to the world around you

You get the idea!

Whatever kind of music-making you do, try to have one day a week without any music at all and see what effect it has.

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Chris Rowbury




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