I have people ask me all the time who my biggest influences are in music. I always just keep it simple and say “The Beatles, The Who and Pink Floyd”. While that’s true to a large degree they’re obviously not my only influence. When I first started to get really excited about music those three bands really turned me on to a lot of great things. But then naturally I wanted to hear more new and exciting music. Which brings me to my topic today. I can honestly say that I’m a huge fan of all music and that every piece of music I hear influences me in some way or another.
When a person becomes a musician they usually start out as a fan of music. It’s the most natural progression to become a successful musician. I know some musicians are trained at the piano from a very young age and have very little experience with the world of music. They are still great musicians but the best musicians I have met and read about started out as huge fans of music in general. Paul McCartney tells a story about when he was a young boy and he hooked up a little headset speaker to his radio so he could listen to music on the BBC as he fell asleep at night. He said that listening to all that music influenced him later on as a musician and writer.
Going from being a fan of music to a being a full fledged musician can be stated as going from listening to the language of music to speaking the language of music. In other posts I have mentioned that we learn to play our instruments by learning musical notes and phrases which are the equivalent to words and grammar. The more music that you listen to, the better your ability to speak music will be when you play. So when you listen to a lot of music as a fan you will be building your musical vocabulary at the same time.
I am truly a fan of music as I listen to music voraciously. I listen to several hours of music every day. The beautiful thing about being a musician as well as a fan is that I can listen much more deeply than when I was simply a fan. As my musical knowledge has increased I have been able to enjoy the deeper nuances of music. I don’t just listen to a song and enjoy the words and melody. I listen to the kick drum, the snare, the hi-hat, the bass guitar, the effects used, the singers delivery, and all sorts of other things an average listener would never be aware of. All this has increased my love of music over the years. I listen to music on a very deep level now and it has made me a better musician. I do have to be careful because I now prefer music that has a complexity that most average listeners don’t grasp as well as I do. I’d love to play a 10 minute opus by Ayreon at my band gigs but I don’t think it would go over very well in the Bars I play in.
So my point is, always search out new music. Listen to new artists as well as genres that you may not have liked before your musical knowledge increased. I used to loathe country music, now I can get some enjoyment out of it because I can listen more deeply and enjoy the skill it takes to play. Just be careful to protect your hearing because without your hearing, all musical enjoyment will cease. So I advise you in your pursuit of becoming a better musician to take in every note you can from every source you can get it. If you listen to enough different types of music, who knows what’s going to come out when it’s your turn to play. You may play something that changes the world because you got such great music into your head in the first place!