The third question I am being asked for the book research mentioned in an earlier post is:
How has music impacted and shaped your life?
I think much of my answer is contained in the earlier question: Why is music important to your life.
I would add that music has shaped my life in the choices I have made along my life’s journey. Music played a role where I lived for most of my life, it effected my income for the early days, if has directed how I spend a large amount of my time (practicing, writing, recording, performing), and as I mentioned in the earlier answer, it has shaped my identity.
I don’t think this last point can be overstated. We all view ourselves in a certain way around what we see as our strengths – physical fitness, intelligence, income, appearance, health, geography, etc. My identity in large part is as a musician. It also shapes how others see me. For example, I played at my company’s last Christmas party. Most of those people with whom I work had never heard me play trombone. That experience changed how they now view me, and in some ways, changed how they interact with me.
I often ask people, what basic skill do you have that no one else you know has to your extent? It’s a good question for people looking for a job or a direction in their life. The answer I’m looking for is at a higher level than “I’m a good cook” or “I’m a good real estate agent”. I’m asking about a deeply rooted basic hard wired competence. My answer to that question is my sense of rhythm. I don’t just mean I can keep good musical time, but rather that I have a particularly good sense of the cycles of time. I can very accurately identify when I will complete some task, I can very accurately estimate when I will arrive somewhere. I can even estimate the time of day without having looked at a clock for a while. In improvising, one is playing phrases – long phrases if someone is truly skilled at it. I am particularly good at playing long complete musical phrases that end at precisely the “correct” moment – perhaps to stop at the end of the tune or end of a part of the form.
How has this skill shaped my life? In many small ways that I’m not always aware of, but it is always present.