Make Bad Art
Reawaken your sleepy, creative spirit
*Welcome to The Musician's Mindset! I'm Katie, a certified life coach and flutist who helps musicians overcome performance anxiety and bring their best selves to the stage. I would love to talk to hear your stories about being a musician and what happens for you on stage. Click HERE and we’ll find some time to chat!*
As classical musicians, our time is spent refining, perfecting, and nuancing. We listen for the slightest inconsistency in articulation, correct intonation down to the cent, and play with metronomic precision. This is what’s required of us. It’s the work we do so the artistic vision in our head can be made real through our bodies. We remove anything that distorts or distracts from the purest expression of the music.
While I have argued that the value of your artistic voice does not require perfection, there’s no denying that a hugely significant portion of our work in the practice room consists of improving our skills. If we’re practicing with intention and goals, that’s how it should be.
However, there is a creative at work at the heart of the classical musician. There is something inside that wants to make beauty, that wants to create something out of nothing.
But, because the process of practice is so rigorous for the musician, sometimes the creative heart can be dulled.
We need a practice to reawaken the sleepy, creative spirit.
*ok, not bad art, Beginner Art*
There is liberation when you allow yourself to make something bad, especially when it is outside of your preferred genre. When you crack open your creative warehouse and make images instead of Bach or mosaics instead of Debussy, you access a different facet of your imagination. And because you are creating in a new genre, your relationship to failure is different. Your first movie can be a little clunky, your flower arrangement a little off-balance, your video game rudimentary.
That’s how we learn, right?
I remember being at Eastman, before I really understood the subtleties of playing in an orchestral ensemble, back when I flagrantly made music. Freely, joyfully, and uninhibitedly. I was devouring the rep, savoring every delicious bite. I didn’t care if I was sharp in my third register! I was just lost in the moment of making music in community, of getting to be a part of something bigger than myself. Playing off the ideas of my colleagues and learning new ways to shape phrases. It was … amazing.
Fast forward a couple of years, I found myself subbing in some regional orchestra and feeling PARALYZED. Insecure. Full of doubt. I heard every note that was out of tune, every entrance that wasn’t precisely aligned, and every time I couldn’t play soft enough to match the principal player.
In truth, I was a better player than a few years earlier, but I felt infinitely worse. I had lost all perspective on my skills and on what we were doing on stage.
Making bad art is a remedy for the musician who is all tangled up. Going to a paint your own pottery place or making your own earrings - it allows you to enter a state of flow.
You reawaken your inner creative and give it license to make again. You’re able to access a different part of your brain, maybe even activate your sub-conscious a little bit! Connection get made, ideas are processed.
And, y’all, it’s FUN! Remember that? When making art or music or whatever was fun?!
My oldest daughter writes. Poems and stories mostly. A few years ago, she and I went to the Detroit Institute of Art to attend a class led by InsideOut Literary Art, a non-profit that, among other things, teaches kids to write poetry. We gathered around a painting, were taught some background on the artist and some of the painting’s story, and then wrote a poem about the painting.
I hadn’t written a poem in 20 years! And yet, I loved it. I loved writing it, I loved reading it out loud to the group (ok, I was also terrified…), I loved accessing a piece of my heart that hadn’t yet been given a voice.
I’m also pretty sure it was Bad Art.
But when you’re making bad art, its not the art that is transformative, its the making of the art that changes you.
You get lost in the feel of the wet clay or watching the salt dissolve under your watercolor brush. Tearing paper, the smell of the glue, blowing glitter across your hand. It’s the process that lights your creative up, not the product.
I promise you, the next time you pull your instrument out of the case after making bad art, you will feel … Excited. Hopeful. A sense of anticipation.
Because, heck, if you’re creativity found its way through when you were making bad art, just imagine what it can do when you make the music you’ve been studying for a lifetime.
Next Steps and Additional Resources
Here at The Musician's Mindset, we have some incredible resources for developing and implementing mindset practices that will transform how you perform on stage.
First, check out our Personalized Mindset Tools Quiz to discover the mindset strategies perfect for YOU!
Schedule your FREE 30 Minute Call with Katie. It’s free. It’s my pleasure. And it’s the first step to releasing stage fright once and for all.
Founder of The Musician's Mindset
Katie is a certified life coach dedicated to helping musicians overcome stage fright and believe in their own unique artistic voice. She believes live classical music is a powerful antidote for the division, pain, and loneliness pervasive in the culture and strives to support all artists to confidently share their work with the world. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband, three kiddos, a dog, a snake, and a goldfish named Orca.