I teach to learn. It might sound strange but its true. My fellow teachers will understand. This year, I started a private mentoring program called MMP.
This experience has reignited my love of learning and creating. Tony Robbins says, "If you're not growing, you're dying." Growth is one of our basic human needs.
There have been seasons in which I felt like I was dying instead of growing. Those seasons were marked by the precedence of outcome over process. I tended to be so focused on the success of a project that I forgot to enjoy the undertaking. The project may sound good in the end, but it leaves you empty.
This has been a year of embracing growth. I wake up hungry to learn something new on a daily basis and this has, in part, been due to my mentorship program.
In the program, students upload their song tracks online. We meet every week to work on their music, focusing on the creative process of writing and editing. I often demonstrate melody writing in class. What this means is that I'm consistently forced to create under pressure. My students watch and listen as I show them the vulnerable act of writing parts on the fly… no practice, no planning. Sometimes the melodies may sound terrible. But now and then there is a melody that sounds great. Either way, I’m helping them by demonstrating the process. I am also growing by exercising the courage that it takes to create with and in front of others.
Here’s a video clip of me (from Colorado) working with three guys from different parts of the world (Kazakhstan, Texas, and South Carolina):
Courage seems to be the key in all creative endeavors. It enables us to dig below the surface to where our ingenuity is buried. Over the years, as I have worked with hundreds of musicians, songwriters, producers, and creators of some sort, I have seen that fear is the demon of the creator. Fortunately, once fear is confronted and faced head on, it seems to lose its power. This is why creating melodies in front of my students all day can be so powerful for me and for them: it looks fear in the face and demystifies the process of songwriting and creating. Great songwriting doesn't always come from moments of inspiration and magic. It is most often about diving head first into the murky, rough waters of creative work. The truth is, most of my melodies suck. However, amidst (and maybe because of) the ideas that will never fully take shape, there are a few seeds that will grow into something beautiful. The love of the process continually compels us forward.