SH Sean Harding/blog
Facing the fear (and the music)
Friday, December 1st, 2006

It’s no secret that for many people, improv involves facing certain fears and insecurities. I created my “just do it” rule to force me to act before insecurity has a chance to take hold. It’s been very effective for me. But there is one aspect of improv that still brings me fear: music.

I’ve always liked a variety of creative pursuits. When I was a child, I loved to draw pictures of anything and everything. I didn’t like coloring very much because it stifled my creativity. I’ve been a photographer for years, and I love making videos. I enjoy writing about lots of things. I really like making up stories, and of course I’m totally into improv. Music, however, is one form of creativity with which I have not yet made peace. I do love music. I have tons of CDs, I’ve gone to a lot of concerts and I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of money on the iTunes store. Yes, I’m a real music lover. Unfortunately, I’m not a very confident music maker.

When I was three or four years old, I had a little ukulele I loved to play with. Later, I got a child-sized guitar. In elementary school, I briefly tried to play the trumpet. And just a few years ago, I took piano lessons. None of it has really stuck, though. Despite having played with all of those instruments, I can’t actually play any of them now. Even though I know what (most of) the notation on sheet music means, I can’t really translate it into sound. And above all else, I’m a terrible singer. The truth is that I probably allow myself to get discouraged too easily with music. In all of my attempts, I’ve never given it the full dedication it deserves. Yes, I know that I can only blame myself for my musical shortcomings. That doesn’t make me any more confident, though.

So far, I’ve skated through improv with only the tiniest bit of exposure to music. We’ve done “lounge lizards” a few times in Playground, and it was a lot of fun, but that has been about it. Not for long. Last night in class, I learned that we’re going to be working on music every week. And this isn’t just lounge lizards (which is pretty easy even for me). I’m going to have to improvise songs, going along with improvised music. This is as far out of my comfort zone as I’ve ever been in improv. By a long shot. My first reaction was sheer terror, to be honest. But the terror tells me something. It tells me that this is something I really need to work on and conquer.

I still have a bit of fear pulsing through my veins, but traveling along with it is a good dose of excitement. I’m extremely excited to work on improving my musical skills, and I’m making a promise to myself that I will remain dedicated. I will give it all the attention it needs. This is the time. I will prevail!

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