Final Word

If you’ve read and understood this whole book, your job is now to forget everything I just taught you. Focusing on the tools and techniques gets in the way of true expression. There may be times when your language will fail you and you won’t know how to say what you want to say. This may inspire you to learn more, or it may not. It’s all up to you.

When you’re not expressing yourself, your newfound musical abilities allow you to be of service. Go out and play music with others. Play music with people who are fluent like you, and play with people who aren’t. You have the ability to be of service in many musical situations. You’ve spent many hours practicing, and you might have missed out on a lot of life experiences because of this. What are you going to do with your musical abilities? You have the power to uplift the music of people who aren’t as fluent as you. You also have the power to make them feel upset because they aren’t as good as you. You could find the perfect chords to accompany a singer, or you could play something amazing that distracts from the singer. I hope you find your way into service.

I found myself in a community choir full of people of all musical abilities. This choir is proud of the fact that many of its members believed that they couldn’t sing. People often come with stories about how music and singing were taken from them at a young age, often by a teacher who told them they couldn’t sing. They are reclaiming their right to make music with others, and I’m happy they can do this without worrying about being “good.” How can I be of service in this choir? I’m not going to try “teaching” people what I know, because the whole point is to be able to sing without so much intellectual knowledge. I’m not going to correct them when they sing a “wrong” note unless they ask. I have found that the best way to be of service in this choir is to drum a steady simple beat or play simple guitar chords when needed. I give you this example because it is not always easy to be of service when you have musical fluency. Imposing your knowledge on others is often not helpful. However, when you do find ways to use your ability to help others, it is very rewarding. People will thank you for your contribution to the community.

Perhaps one of the best ways to be of service is to express yourself. When you pick up your instrument, it is a meditation. Forget what you know, clear your mind of all concepts, listen to the room around you, and play the music that wants to be played. In reality, there is no such thing as a quarter note or a C major chord. There is just sound. You know how to make sound using your instrument. You have practiced enough. You have learned to speak. What needs to be said?