Fulfilling Your Purpose
by Wendy Hamilton
Getting, Giving and Receiving What You Need to Be the Musician You Were Born to Be
Most musicians have home videos or photos of themselves playing a toy or makeshift instrument as a young child. Most lyricists like myself got their start in early childhood on horribly written poetry or childlike songs that often made little, if any, sense.
Some musicians and lyricists stumbled into their craft in their adolescent years as they used song lyrics and the consistency of music to deal with the angst and complexity of being a teenager. Pouring out thoughts and emotions was a way to cope with love, lost loves, peer acceptance and peer rejection. Some used the cool factor of playing a guitar or being in the band to impress their love interest or increase their popularity.
In contrast, a few people wake up as adults and doggedly pursue the skills of learning to play a musical instrument either for the first time or to continue an interest in music that they abandoned or were not able to pursue in childhood. Many songwriters invest in songwriting after their kids are grown and they find themselves in a different stage of life. My dad, after more than 50 years of not playing any instrument, decided to buy and learn how to play a banjo and a mandolin. An acquaintance of mine from university after hearing pianist and composer David Lanz’s Cristofori’s Dream in a Music Appreciation class decided she wanted to learn to play the piano and started piano lessons. After playing for several years she can now play the song that she fell in love with and that sparked her interest in becoming a musician.
In each of those scenarios, a musician was born at just the perfect time. The beauty of the artistry of being a musician or lyricist is that there isn’t a wrong time to start. To be the musician you were born to be you need to understand what fulfilling your purpose as a musician means.
Getting What You Need
To determine what you need you need to be the musician you were born to be you need to determine what your musical goals are. If you want to learn to play the guitar for fun and as a relaxing hobby you will require less investment than a guitarist who has the ambition of being on a platform performing before thousands.
For the hobbyist, a few lessons in person, some self-teaching through YouTube or online training methods and a bit of practice can develop your skills to the point where you can pick up a guitar for your family or with friends and confidently strum the basic tunes to some of your favorite songs. For someone who wants to pursue a career as a musician, more lessons, harsher critique, and honest feedback to hone your craft and dedicated practice to master the guitar will be your necessary path to get you to the level you want to be.
For lyricists the investment in writing, studying songwriting styles and techniques and practicing by writing will be necessary. How much work and effort you put into songwriting will depend on what you want to do with your songwriting abilities. If you want to write song lyrics for market you will need to have a stronger writing skillset than another songwriter who wants to use their gift of writing to pursue songwriting as a hobby. The reason for the difference is that in paying or public markets there are many talented and gifted individuals and developing your craft helps separate the hobbyist from the professional.
Giving What You Should
While the world of artists can be competitive, the most successful artists learn to work well with others. When we realize that the world and marketplace have room for every musician and creative, we remove the idea of scarcity or limited resources from our vocabulary. When we no longer function from a position of scarcity but operate from a mindset of abundance and the belief that there are plenty of opportunities we behave differently inside of the creative industry. Instead of competition, we seek to be our best creative self and be the musician or lyricist we are created to be. No striving. No competing. Just be you.
Playing nice can be tough especially if we were hurt in the industry by difficult or insecure people. The beauty of being a musician or lyricist is that we can use our experiences and emotions, positive or negative, to fuel our artistry. If you don’t get a gig because of any number of reasons, keep playing. Keep seeking out opportunity to highlight your abilities and play your music. You are a musician and musicians make music. They play their music. Lyricist use their experiences – good or bad – to help them develop songs that are meaningful, true-to-life and that resonate with others. Lyricists are songwriters and writers write.
There are many ways that a gift of music can be utilized. Local non-profit organizations that work with children or the elderly often look for and appreciate the help of musicians and songwriters. As a musician or lyricist, you could help someone else with their musical ability simply by using your own musical talents either through volunteering or through an available paid opportunity. By investing in the musical talents and abilities of others you not only can learn to work well with others but you participate in invaluable time with other artists and musicians which can improve your craft and skill level. The best way of getting what you need is giving to others. Generosity in any form but especially of our time and talents has many positive and beneficial returns for us and others.
Receiving What You Want
Ultimately as musicians or lyricists, we are designed to be successful uniquely and individually. Once we have identified what our goals are and what we need to achieve those goals and we honor our opportunities to work with others and develop ourselves as artists and individuals, then we can focus on receiving what we want. As musicians and lyricists many of us play music or write songs to support ourselves and our families and pay bills. There is nothing wrong with using musical talents and abilities to make money. There is also nothing wrong with wanting awards, accolades, praise or acknowledgment for your musical talent and ability. However, the wisest musicians and lyricists know and understand that the source of your writing and your pursuit of excellence in your music must come from within you and not be dependent on what is said or not said in review or what is done or not done through awards and accolades. There are many musicians and lyricists who gave up because of a perceived failure and many more who after huge wins lost the edge that humility and being teachable by life and others can bring to the development of music.
Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” When we succeed, we should enjoy the moment but don’t define our past as our best. We are capable of better days and better moments. When we fail, that is not the end. We are capable of better days and better moments.
Becoming the musician you were created to be and fulfilling your purpose as a musician will be determined by the courage you display that inspires you to practice one more day, write one more song, play one more gig and take the next step to be a better musician or a better lyricist today than you were yesterday.
Wendy M. Hamilton is a teacher of writing and songwriting at Inspired Life Ministries, a creative arts ministry, located in Dallas, Texas (USA), and partners with multiple organizations to equip and encourage writers and songwriters. She is the published author of many songs, books and devotionals including her one-month devotional for moms, 30 Verses to Heal a Mama’s Heart, available on Amazon.com and Amazon Europe.