Inspiration Doesn’t Find You, You Find Inspiration

The artistic journey evolves differently for every person.
Words such as inspiration and talent are thrown around a lot, quite a bit more than discipline, focus, exploration, history, inquiry, discovery, process, skills, and knowledge. Inspiration, where does it come from? It’s not a lightening bolt, or the voice of God, or something that just hits you. It’s something every artist searches for and discovers little by little. It’s a process. Listening to music, reading, thinking, studying other artists, and then drawing from your own experiences… those are the things that lead every artist to find their path. What excites you, what scares you, what do you love? You will find what you search for, if you don’t search, you will find nothing.
Practice is something that you do on a regular basis. You go to football or basketball practice, you practice Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, or you simply find your own faith. It’s something you do, it’s a habit, a routine, a ritual that teaches you on many levels, and it’s something you manifest in your actions. You practice by yourself and through your interactions with others. The more committed you are the more you practice, and the more you practice, the better you become.
It’s what we all do to have fun! However you can’t play if you don’t know the rules of the game, if you haven’t developed great skills, and acquired the physical and mental stamina to perform. The best players bring something extra, they channel something they have found that goes beyond their skills and to the core of what an audience or fans want to see. Why? Because it’s something that an onlooker doesn’t have, but they experience in the artists, the athletes, the innovators who take the journey… magic and power, grace, ease, humor.  Composers and performers are the source of inspiration and awe to others, because they have chosen to take a journey filled with challenges, set backs, and obstacles. They choose to keep going, to keep working, to perfect their art, not for a reward, but because the journey changes them, gives them a glimpse of things they never imagined when they started, and creates the possibility for them to become more than they could have dreamed at the beginning.

It’s fair to say, at times it’s a very difficult path, and most people quit. It’s also absolutely true that if you continue, at your pace, following your path, learning from criticism instead of being discouraged, finding  out how much is possible for you… you will never be bored, you will never have regrets, and you will know the joy of doing your best! You will know what it is to be exhausted, frustrated and discouraged, but you will also know what it is to always be playing your own game, beating your own best, and creating what is uniquely yours.

Gustav Mahler: “I am hitting my head against the walls, but the walls are giving way.”

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: “Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy.”

Johannes Brahms: “Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.”

Ludwig van Beethoven: “Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets.”

J.S. Bach: “I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well.”

Dmitri Shostakovich: “A creative artist works on his next composition because he was not satisfied with his previous one.”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: “It is a mistake to think that the practice of my art has become easy to me.”

Alan Hovhaness: “There is nothing like practice.”

Richard Wagner: “Imagination creates reality.”

Alban Berg: “Music is at once the product of feeling and knowledge, for it requires from its disciples, composers and performers alike, not only talent and enthusiasm, but also that knowledge and perception which are the result of protracted study and reflection.”

Schinichi Suzuki (For my young students and their parents):

“Where love is deep, much can be accomplished.”

“Musical ability is not an inborn talent, but an ability that can be developed. Any child, who is properly trained, can develop musical ability just as all children develop the ability to speak their mother tongue. The potential of every child is unlimited.”

“Only practice on the days that you eat.”

Karine Stone