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  • Writer's pictureVasundhara Vee

The extra-ordinary musician, does this extra thing.

Picture credit : Michael Dziedzic

If you look around at some of the greats, people who make their instruments sing, those whose chops are incredible and their soulfulness beyond comprehension.

They all do one very important thing

They pursue at least one discipline outside music.

Victor Wooten, one of the Gods of Bass, practices Martial Arts and Animal Tracking in the wild. Closer home, Uncle Louiz Banks is a phenomenal painter. I read somewhere online that Soul singer Erykah Badu selectively works as a doula and a hospice nurse.

Many many people who have achieved greatness have a second love, an equivalent love. My friend and colleague, Varun Venkit, is a professional percussionist, a home gardener, an art therapist and a psychologist. Anandi and Michelle, two powerful singers I know are both adept at baking.

There's a unique something to all these individuals and I really look up to that unnameable quality.

According to me, this is why a second love is helpful

1) You get better when you are no longer defined by your musicianship. Your "musician's ego" vanishes as music becomes a part of your larger life. You play with more grace and musicality. You allow music to be a deep and honest language.

2) Your brain makes unique connections between disparate things. The meaning that you derive from other pursuits can convert into a compelling and unique musical style. Mass schooling in music theory will give you one set of neural connections and mental habits. But combining them with the meaning you acquire from other disciplines will give you that 'something extra'.

3) The stories you tell through your music will have a wider palette. You will make real connections with audiences who share your second love too. Sharing music is not only about getting eyeballs and viewership. It's about building communities.

Take up a job in an industry that fascinates you. Or simply intern, if you feel like. Study a subject that has nothing to do with music. Volunteer somewhere. Pick up a new skill.

It's on the outside that great ideas lie. Watch yourself grow. And also enjoy how singing and performance become pressure-free, stress-free and actually artistic.

Love Vasundhara.

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