The Purpose of Practicing Music

Music is one of the best things humanity has created. It is very powerful – it brings emotions and profound thoughts to our minds, it brings us together, it lifts us up when we are sad; music is a way of celebrating the fact that we are alive.

Some people study music to become famous, to be popular, or most mistakenly of all, to make money; they do it for egocentric reasons, and I believe they are missing the point. My intention as an instructor is not to make you a great, famous cellist. I hope you might be, if that is your calling, but I care more intensely that you become a great person: a person who doesn’t make excuses, who understands perseverance and delayed gratification, who is curious about what has come before and what they can contribute, who believes that being a musician is the means to the sublime end of serving a higher purpose, not the end itself.

Becoming a musician, not just a cellist, is very difficult. In addition to consistent work towards total control and facility on the instrument, hundreds of thousands of hours, it also requires study of tradition and history, mindfulness of the soul, and a direct line to the emotional plane of existence. The quality of the life you live, what you let influence you – all this will affect your craft. Practicing music, therefore, is also the practice of good, intentional living.

As a musician, you are an ambassador of humanity – you must uphold and preserve the values set forth before you by generations of honorable men and women who made good change, and held themselves to a higher standard. As you study, practice, rehearse, and perform, remember this:

Fact: Making great art does not automatically make you a great person. Beware allowing your craft to make you self-righteous.

Fact: The world has more demand for great people, than great artists. Great artists who are also great people are harder to find – make yourself one of those.

Fact: You will do the world a valuable service by pursuing the call of being a musician who lives with dignity, respect, compassion, discipline, humility, who embraces and lifts up those around them – and sets a good example. It is not the constant achievement, but rather the constant attempt at this, that matters most.

-Jean Hatmaker, 2017

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