Updated: Aug 17, 2020
After we have given a performance people may tell us how great we played or that we are amazing.
We create an album that people love and positive reviews have no end.
A popular music magazine wants to interview you to understand your process.
These are ideal situations for a musician because it tells us that our work is having a positive impact on others. But how do we not let this success go to our heads?
There are many examples of people reaching critical acclaim who soon or later end up ruining their lives. Many great musicians like Bill Evans, John Coltrane, and Jimi Hendrix all died of a drug overdose.
But there are examples of people who don't let their success go to their heads or at least don't get sucked into the hype culture which success seems to bring.
Lack of humility means tons of pride. Pride is thinking one so great and wonderful, that the world revolves around you. But underneath the surface pride is a delusion. To forget that you are human, that you will die, that you have had to work hard to get to where you are is a dangerous state to be in.
Humility is a difficult word to define even though the dictionary has done it. Defining humility is like trying to catch a fish with your hands. The more you try to define it the more elusive it is. But humility has something to do with being lowly, with thinking realistically, with understanding both ones limitations and abilities, its not self-justifying, but it can be bold, it's acceptance that others are greater than you, it has something to do with serving others.
Many great living or past musicians during interviews show great humility and gratitude. Watching interviews of Oscar Peterson for example, one of my favorite jazz pianists, he is very down to earth and warm and whenever he received compliments he just said thank you and brushed it off. All he did was play piano at breakneck speed with precision timing and touch. That's the point.
Seeing the music we play as an act of serving others helps move the performance away from ourselves. Well done music uplifts and edifies others. It is not meant to make us the center of the universe. Even though attention is on us know that compliments are an indication we are having a positive impact on others.
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