“Your most fertile source of creative energy is a compelling artistic vision.”
–The Musician’s Way, p. 310
Among the many factors that lead to artistic achievement, the most decisive one may be the least visible.
Yet it’s the reason we veteran musicians practice, write, perform, and keep at it year after year.
I’m speaking about artistic vision. And it inspires our creativity because it encompasses the big picture surrounding our impulse to create. In this post, I describe the power of artistic vision and offer a 3-step exercise to enact one.
The Power of Vision
All of us musicians feel a personal urge to make music. But if we create solely for ourselves, we’re unlikely to produce a significant body of work. To become accomplished artists, we need reasons to create that extend beyond personal satisfaction.
So, if we envision uplifting others through music along with, say, promoting a new musical style or advancing arts education, our vision becomes the container through which our creativity takes form in the world.
We’ll then produce and market concerts, recordings, compositions, instructional materials, and more. We’ll build a community of fans who resonate with what we stand for. We’ll partner with agencies that share our goals.
In tandem, that communal energy will add social meaning to what we do, fuel our motivation to create, and yield income-producing opportunities.
Forging an Artistic Vision
In The Musician’s Way, I wrote, “A vision packs the most punch when it’s specific, realistic, and altruistic” (p. 310).
If you haven’t established a specific, realistic, and altruistic vision of what you intend to accomplish through music, the following exercise will help you craft a vision that can ignite your creativity for a lifetime.
Step 1: List your passions and dreams
Open a file, and, over the span of several days, write bulleted answers to these questions:
1. What musical experiences bring you the most enjoyment and satisfaction?
2. Who are your musical influences?
3. In what ways would you like to help others through music?
4. What jobs do you imagine doing as a musician (e.g., solo performer, private teacher, recording engineer)?
5. If you were given $100,000 to spend on a musical venture this year, what would you do?
6. If you suddenly possessed sweeping musical knowledge and ability, what sorts of concerts, recordings, compositions, videos, or other products would you create?
7. Envision yourself 10 years from now: What do you want to be doing and how do you want to be living?
8. Think of yourself at 90 years old, and then complete these statements: a. “I’m so glad I… ” b. “I wish I had…”
Step 2: Draft a vision document
Distill what you wrote in Step 1 into bulleted statements of your long-term artistic and career goals. Here’s an example of a rising violist’s artistic vision, extracted from page 310 of The Musician’s Way.
• Play viola in a string quartet that performs and records classics and contemporary music.
• Perform in the viola section of a regional orchestra. Eventually, audition successfully for a major orchestra.
• Volunteer to lead sectional rehearsals for local high school orchestras.
• Found a non-profit teaching studio that provides lessons in stringed instrument playing, and with a charitable endowment that awards scholarships to deserving children.
• Host a radio program or webcast that features recordings of string quartet music.
• Continually elevate interpretive, technical, and professional skills.
After crafting your vision document, return to it often for inspiration and to refine it as you grow.
Step 3: Take action
With your vision in focus, set down action plans: Open another file, and write what you’ll do this week, month, and year to pursue your goals.
In particular, identify your strengths and weaknesses and how you’ll address any areas needing improvement; maybe do a SWOT analysis.
Enlist teachers or mentors as needed, showing them what you wrote in Steps 1-3 of this exercise. Maybe use the free Downloads at MusiciansWay.com to help you organize your work.
The key is to think big but proceed in increments. In time, through steady action, what you now envision can become a shining reality.
© 2010 Gerald Klickstein
photo © Ollyy, Licensed from Shutterstock