Self-help remedies are important when it comes to being an art school student. Art school can be a place that alienates and undermines self-esteem. These self-help remedies will restore confidence in yourself!
Immerse Yourself In Writing Games/Goals
Believe it or not, but there are games that can keep you writing, and invested in your work, even when you feel it’s not any good, making this among the more important self-help remedies. Some exercises worth trying are writing songs with lyrics that aren’t yours, experimenting with tuning systems, writing songs with the lyrics first, writing songs with the melody first. Experiment with moderate doses of odd meters to make the music follow the words more dramatically. Another trick is running a piece through stylistic variations to make it more interesting, swing it, play with a Rock feel, an R&B groove, Hip-Hop, Country, you name it.
Making music that’s form is very simple, repetitive, almost corny is another avenue, because even though it can be fun to make music that’s harmonically complex, it’s what skeptical academics call the ‘uninformed ear’ that informs the relationships of the musical ecosystem.
Immerse Yourself In Silence (Or Know When To Take A Break)
This is one of the self-help remedies that take the longest to learn but is a lesson one has to actively practice, otherwise it can be disastrous for one’s health. Being constantly bombarded by noise, music, sound, ego, self-pity, and aggrandizement, has a desensitizing effect. The music you once loved, seems talentless, empty, uninteresting, outdated, unsophisticated, banal, basic, square or ‘overtly political’. Most people correctly respond to the environment imposed upon them, and if told repetitively they are wrong, will confirm to popular opinion, and begin to believe it. This can initiate a shutdown. Silence, however, is good.
Sometimes, having access to unlimited music so long as one has WIFI just encourages us to be busier. One rarely has time to practice doing few things at once, as one is surrounded with many different things to do just walking down the street; listening to music, avoiding cyclists, possibly texting or reading an email, avoiding cars, avoiding other pedestrians, ignoring the homeless citizens, making sure one doesn’t walk onto the train tracks, waiting for an Über. The possibilities are endless and result in an intensely dangerous injury for those paying the least due attention to one’s circumstances.
Immerse Yourself In The Unexpected
Sometimes, a change of scenery is a lot of fun, it makes a lot more of potentially memorable experiences, and increases contacts. These random experiences with the chaos that is among the more potent self-help remedies. Pure chaos, unrestricted, subconscious playing. Playing something randomly, performing with strangers, being put in situations where there’s only a moment’s time to act precisely. Experiences like this can be enriching if performed exactly.
It even improves one’s attitude and relationship to failure. One often thinks that by avoiding failure, one will yield success, but it will further enable failure. It is as the I Ching states, ‘Misfortune enriches.’ Eventually, one will realize that to be a performing musician, one must be in millions of interactions where one is required to be constant, despite numerous incidents of chaos and inexactness. One will often be in situations, where the single thing that ruined the event was the impossibility of total self-control of a situation. But despite the inconvenience, there is something more romantic and inspiring that a hero’s unrepentant persistence rewarded them, compared to a hero whose victory was assumed in the beginning by favoritism.
Continue Music Being Fun
Music might be sacred, or a sophisticated art form, but it is also fun. At Art School, the game element of music is often thought to be elementary or childish, but if the music was not supposed to be fun, it likely would have died as an art form. If no other of these self-help remedies can be remembered, this is one would most treasure knowing. A satisfying performance can be among the more potent feelings in existence, incomparable to most other stimuli available to people. One can be so deeply down the art school rabbit hole that one becomes divorced from this kind of relationship to nature to pleasure, to self-stimuli. It is a very organic feeling, and to be removed from it is a hell of its own kind.
The more actively you put yourself in situations like these, it may not seem like much the first couple of times, the better. It is absolutely essential to enjoy music as a game, even if at times it can be a cruel game, a cruel, torturous game that results in long periods of stress due to inactivity, and insecurity, especially when stimulated from a non-musical source. One finds such situations impede self-growth.
Try To Enhance One’s Life Experience
The humanities (art, music, poetry, history, comedy) are in a way like religion in comparison to the rest of society. We have our own kind of work, our experiences, and what defines us as artists, rituals. There are very few artists who do not have a ritual in their artistry, be it their tactics for inspiration. Sometimes it’s by exploring the world, sometimes it’s joining a religious community, or running, acquiring a political identity, painting, joining a corporate entity, engaging in a local affinity group, sometimes it’s through cooking or dancing. There are a lot of non-musical experiences that one can afford to engage in when one’s not feeling creatively up to snuff.
Sometimes, when encouraged, artists engage in self-harming or antisocial activities they assume, through ritual, will yield artistic results. It’s among the more unadvisable self-help remedies to administer smoking, drinking or doing drugs because it either improves or enhances your performance. It may seem right to you at the moment, and may even be true at the moment, but because it will not be true in the long run, it will be disastrous, and worth avoiding. There are few better tricks to getting better artistically than the old saying that ‘through patience and diligence comes success.’
Are there any other advisable self-help remedies we left out? Leave your suggestions down in the comment suggestion!
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John D. Short is a Bassist, and Songwriter/Composer from Tyler, Texas. He is the administrator of Philtrum Publishing Federation, a great lover of conspiracy theories, history and irony. He's a graduate of Berklee College of Music's Jazz Composition Program.