When I was in college, I had a poster of Mark Batterson’s Lion Chaser’s Manifesto in my dorm room. There’s one phrase in it that has always jumped off the page at me: “Criticize by creating.”
Take a second to think about what that means.
How often do we gripe about something and then do nothing to better the situation? I know I’m guilty of that! Think how much more effective it would be to create something that solved the problem instead of just complaining about the problem!
So what might ”criticizing by creating” look like for a musician? Here are some of my applications:
Bored with the same old chord progressions in pop music? Write a catchy song with a unique and interesting progression.
Think avant-garde music sounds like zombies are about to attack? Figure out a way to write intellectually stimulating music that sounds pleasing to you.
Tired of that one concerto that EVERYONE with your instrument plays? Find a new work to learn and advocate (or commission one!).
Is your creation going to erase what you don’t like about the world? Probably not. Will it make the world a better place, even if only in a small way? Yes, and that’s much more than can be said for getting upset because the world is not already the way you think it should be. It’s like that saying about being the change you want to see in the world, except for a composer it’s more like, “Write the music you want to hear.” And chances are, if you do, then other people will want to hear it, too.
[September 9, 2012]