Ideal Music Under Perfect Conditions

I want to share a writing exercise from composer, pianist, and author W.A. Mathieu. If you feel overwhelmed or frustrated with trying to measure success by someone else’s model, this prompt will help you define a personal musical vision.

Photo courtesy of Flickr/alexanderward12

“Imagine yourself ten years into the future, making ideal music under perfect conditions. Allow no boundary to this vision, no editor, and no holding back. Try to capture the character of your future music in your ear, even if the notes are a blur. What is your feeling? What is the quality of the light?  Notice who else is listening there with you. When the picture comes into focus, describe it in writing. Tell everything.

‘I am working in an interdisciplinary school where all the teachers are exploring the points where disciplines connect. I am a rhythm specialist with insights into psychology. I have studied acting. We are trying to bring about harmony to save the world. I have an understanding of music that leads to effective ways of working together. I am a light in the world.’

The man who wrote that when he was twenty is now twenty-six and traveling with the San Francisco Mime Troop as a drummer and actor.

‘I am in a sunny country house and I know how to play the piano in a way that makes me free. I am a healer. People come to me and I show them how they can play this way too, and they do, and they become whole, and this makes me really happy.’

The forty-year-old woman who wrote that got her PhD. in psychology and is now, five years later, doing what she described.

‘It is my fortieth birthday party. On an intimate stage in a little club I own, I am playing alto sax with a totally mellow jazz quartet. All my friends are there, listening intently. We play beautifully all night. Everyone has the best time of their lives and stays until dawn.’

That was written by a new student, last week. We’ll see.

Now try yours.

You can test your longing for the dream to come true. Go into the longing and ask: Why can’t I do that now? Zero in on the inside reason. Feel your wanting. What has to happen for you to be that person you see?”

W. A. Mathieu, The Listening Book: Discovering Your Own Music

– ST

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