I always advise people to do what scares them. I don’t always take my own advice. I’m calling myself out publicly today so that I do.
My wife tells me that I express my desire to do something and then come up with a million reasons why I can’t do it. I have a burning desire to perform, and I talk myself out of it a lot. I’m reassessing that now.
I’ve written over 200 songs. Some of them I wrote for the bands I was in, and I performed them with those bands. The other songs I have allowed to remain unheard in my file cabinet, or hidden on my website for a few intrepid fans.
I want to play my songs out. I am afraid. I’m afraid of forgetting the words, forgetting the music, finding out that nobody really cares about the songs, finding out they’re not good enough, finding out they are good enough and now I have too much attention, now the expectations are higher, now there are no more excuses.
This month I received my usual February e-mail from the RPM Challenge. This is a group that asks people to write 10 songs or 35 minutes of music in the month of February and release it as an album. Instead of saying “No,” I said “Yes.”
I did this once before, ten years ago. I threw a party one week to teach 10 songs, and I threw another part the next week to perform and record them. This was the result: www.acole.net/files/Best_of__Both__Worlds.mp3
I have never performed any of those songs since. Why the hell not? I don’t know.
I have convinced myself that my desire to perform is a kind of weakness or flaw. That I’m just looking to escape my actual reality, looking to present myself in a controlled environment, looking to boost my ego. And that may be true.
But lately I’ve been thinking maybe there’s something else that’s a positive. Maybe the only way to fill some of the emptiness I always feel inside is to connect with people through a performance. Maybe the reason I’ve never been able to fill it is because that’s where I have to do it.
I don’t know. The only way to find out is to go for it. So here’s my first step.
I’m going to perform this album of songs at least once, somewhere not at my house, with a couple of other musicians. I’ll advertise, I’ll rehearse, and I’ll perform. I don’t know what the experience will be like.
I have to answer the question: Why am I not out there all the time playing songs I think are great? Maybe I’ll find out this way.
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Adam Cole is a Jazz Musician Who Writes Books. Fantasy author, music educator and performer, Adam chats weekly on the subject of listening, creativity and living your best life. To take a quiz on what kind of music warrior you are, please visit www.mymusicfriend.net