As we’re coming to the end of another year, I’m doing what a lot of people are also doing: looking back on the past twelve months, taking stock of events, accomplishments, good & bad times. From this, trying to get a feel for my unraveling life destiny, by interpreting the meaning of this year’s milestones and oopsies.
This blog figures in my accomplishments list. And though in many ways I don’t really qualify as a true blogger (I don’t post with enough regularity), underneath it all I try to keep a consistent approach.
“And what consistency might that be, Mr. Eclectica”? you ask.
Well, I’d say it’s an underlying ethic. I’m only motivated to research, write and post when I’ve got some insight to share. So this blog is definitely not a news or current events blog.
I’m also motivated by a sense of mission. Which goes like this:
WHEN YOU’RE TIRED OF THE COSTUME PARTY…
What I’m advocating through my writing, at bottom, can be best described as “sensibility training through learning a musical instrument“.
The idea is very simple. I’m reminded of it everytime I watch a YouTube clip of Bill O’Reilly – or any other traumatized (and traumatizing) war-monger.
What does the world need more of? Sensible People (and if that sounds too Brit-snotty to you: Perceptive People).
I start from a premise of basic perceptual awareness:
Q – What happens when your communication environment saturates your senses all day (and night) long?
A – My hunch: you become numb and your senses “close off”. Your receptiveness to new experiences atrophies.
Paradoxically, in this environment you need more and more intense stimulus to even feel alive, and to know who you are. “Culture” is therefore experienced as a closed loop of identity consumption and various forms of media addiction.
That’s what I mean by “the costume party”.
look at me! I’m worth loving, too!
Important to the amateurmusicians.net approach: I offer this concept of “sensibility training” in contrast to the more common motive of “getting the attention I need by putting on a musical act”.
This is not out of some higher-than-thou moral qualm, but because the attention-seeking ethic runs counter to the process of sensibility training to begin with.
It’s basic psychology, really.
Though self-expression is one of the key values of sensibility training, it’s narrow self-expression – or narcissism – that still dominates the airwaves today, a sure sign of our culture’s deep habit of sensory closure.
In contrast: what does it mean to seriously devote time and energy to learning a musical instrument, and a specific repertoire/genre? What is this learning doing for the learner?
open vs. closed
In terms of training, you may be wondering if there’s a distinction to be made between “sensibility” and “sensitivity”.
There is, unequivocally.
“Sensitivity training” refers to workplace initiatives that “help” employees learn the habits of thinking and doublespeak mandated by political correctness, to disallow “out of place” private judgment in a public context.
The habit that is learned at root is self-censorship. Which is what a lot of “sensible people” learn to do at a young age, thanks to “good rearing” and public education.
In opposition to this well-intentioned but insidious dogma, sensibility training is about getting people to gain self-knowledge – and knowledge about the world – by using rich, open and expressive means of communication.
Literally, sensibility training means: training the senses, learning a culture of the senses.
With regards to learning music, this means specifically: the process of painstakingly learning an instrument, and choosing a repertoire. The key skills and attitudes are: active listening and comparative musical analysis.
To obtain good results, a multi-genre and multi-disciplinary approach is key. Why?
As a musician, if you dedicate yourself to only one genre/style, you are reinforcing:
- a tribal identity
- a marketing category
As a learner, if you follow only one set of learning methods for each music style, you are reinforcing:
- a fundamentalist attitude for one method over another
- dependence over autonomy and self-direction
and before your attention drifts to that girl wearing a tight yellow t-shirt
Needless to say, there is a lot more to say on this topic, and this post should only be seen as a reminder of the basic motive for this blog.
In the final analysis: the discussion that needs to happen is on the significant role that a serious musician can play in today’s world, beyond cultural diversion.
That role to me is, in a nutshell: sensibility training. For both the musician and his/her audience.