The Right Notes

When I started playing the guitar I focussed on playing all the right notes at the right times, just as they were written. It took me years to figure out there is so much more to music than simply playing what is written on the page. If that was all I spent my time doing, anything I played would end up sounding robotic and there would be little connection between me, and the music, and anyone listening. Music has the potential to evoke so much emotion. It can bridge the gaps between how we feel and finding a way to express this to the world. It can help us process emotion. It can help us feel a particular way, and stir within us deep longing or incredible hope.

Think about reading a book. We can take in the words and the sentences for what they are, interesting things to read and say, but if we don’t attempt to understand the story behind them then we miss out on so much more. When I write about certain characters I am as excited to learn more about them as any reader would be – and I’m the one creating them! To keep it interesting for me to write, and for readers to want to keep reading, there has to be something a little different within the story. They can be small details, but there must be something there to entice people into the world.

I love writing music. Before I learned to play a song written by someone else I managed to write a few songs of my own. In my head it seemed easier to create something out of what I already knew and what I liked than to learn the layout and execution of a song by someone else. Now I’m over ten years into my guitar playing journey. I have experience knuckling down to learn songs written by others, and committing time to writing songs of my own, both in several different styles. Sometimes I wish I could go back to knowing less about music theory. Common chord progressions and scales have weaseled their way so thoroughly into my psyche that even when I hear something different in my head it is difficult to break free from the norm and put it on paper. Listen to what your heart is telling you as well as what your ears are hearing. A beautiful melody can come from anywhere, and it need not sound like something you’ve already heard.

When we find ourselves in a new job it can feel daunting to try and fill the shoes of the person who came before us. In many jobs we can find ourselves simply doing the job the same way as the people before us, and just getting the work done. For me, this can only be fulfilling for so long. I like that I can go to work, do work, and then leave for the day, still with the mental capacity to create the worlds within stories and songs. But if there is a better way to do something at work, a way to streamline tasks so they can be done more efficiently, I will work to make it happen. My current managers are conscious that I am competent in my role. They are also conscious of providing opportunities to extend myself, if that is something I seek to do. Training to improve my skills in my job is always on offer, and they offer different tasks if I have the time to take them up. If I had settled into the job as it was when I arrived, and simply ‘played the right notes’ that were in front of me, I would be missing out on a lot of development in my job which transfer so readily to other areas of life.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, do the best job you can. A job can be a means to pay for the necessities so we can do what we want to do outside of work. But if it is draining the energy from our soul we must put plans in place to change our trajectory. I love writing and playing music but right now it is not feasible for me to drop everything and pursue those avenues as a sole source of income. I am putting in hard work to make that a viable choice, but for me, dropping everything and trying to be a paid writer and musician is at least a few years away yet…

This process will look different for everybody. Continuing the analogy about music, there are many wonderful musicians in this world. If we try and play like someone else we miss out on figuring out who we really are and what kind of music we want to play. Try new things. Make mistakes. Flip, even try things that no one else has tried before – especially try things no one else has tried before! Stepping out into the great big unknown is daunting. But out there lies yet to be discovered greatness and you might just be the person to discover it.

Play the right notes for you. But don’t let the fear of failure stop you from playing a few of the wrong notes too. One quote oft attributed to one very famous American writer comes to mind.

“The first draft of anything is shit.”

Ernest Hemingway

Refinement will be required, even and especially if we believe something holds the potential for greatness within it. A song, story, script, performance, recipe, friendship, a Christmas dinner. Whatever it is there will be room for alteration and improvement.

Get there. Get to where you are confident to share your wonderful skills with the world. If you have fire in your belly for what you are creating there will be people out there just as excited to hear what you have to say. And when someone raises an eyebrow at a ‘wrong note’, you’ve done something right. They’ve turned and they noticed what you’ve created. Peace.

Cover photo byย abednego agoย fromย Pexels.

12 thoughts on “The Right Notes

  1. thewheelchairteen says:

    I feel the same way about poetry. Sometimes people need to let go of counting syllables in every line and making sure that everything has a perfect rhythm and iambic pentametre – so that they can just let the emotions pour out onto the page. I’m happy that music is a way for you to express your emotions and that you aren’t letting ‘hitting all of the right notes’ hold you back anymore.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hamish says:

      When we truly start to feel what we are writing, what we are playing, what we are hearing, we can focus on creating the best thing that we can. There are times for counting lines and iambic pentameter, but we can’t let that hold us back from creating something crazy and out there. Be it a song, a poem, a dance, or something so different it doesn’t even exist yet! Thank you for such a caring comment. ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Hamish says:

      Thank you for your kind words. ๐Ÿ˜Š I hope you get stuck into playing the guitar, it is such a wonderful thing! One piece of advice I’ve learned when buying a guitar: make sure it’s one you feel drawn to pick up and play. It must look good so you like looking at it, but even more important it must be nice to play. ๐ŸŽธ

      Keep on keeping on being awesome. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

      Liked by 3 people

  2. smileymint says:

    I love this, I used to play piano(but then stopped) just because I had to drive and like you said, it was just playing all the right notes in order. Ofc, I think that after I rediscovered music that I enjoyed(ahaha, I only learnt about classical up until that point). So I found refudge in music and singing and I 100% agree with you. Good luck with the book you’re writing! ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hamish says:

      Thank you so much for sharing. ๐Ÿ˜Š I took a year of piano lessons when I was younger and wish I had stuck with it a little longer. But there’s so time. Something many authors say is read often and read a wide variety of genres. I think the same goes for music too. Listen to a wide variety of songs and learn to play different styles too. It’s surprising the skills that crossover, even into other things that aren’t music!

      Thank you for the well wishes about the book. Stay tuned for a short story set in that world here on my blog next Saturday 24 October!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Hamish says:

      Thank you for your kind words. It is only this year I have started seriously putting time into recording music and writing stories and figuring out ways to share them. This blog is a great start for sharing stories, both of my life and the worlds my mind things up. (I’m almost finished the short story set in the world of my novel to publish here!)

      So far o have recorded two songs, and they will be released somewhere soon. I shall keep you informed. ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Liked by 2 people

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