Why do you play music?

One of the most memorable conversations I have had was with Bill Honaker over the span of a couple of encounters. It started with a question that he asked his son Will when he was looking at going to McNally Smith in Minneapolis, MN. The question was, “why do you play music?” I thought that was a very wise question to ask a young musician. The more I thought about that question, the more I found it was a perfect question for ANY musician. Bill didn’t just leave the question to be free formed either, he gave examples of reasons why a person might choose music as a career, hobby, or passion. This is now my interpretation of the question as a whole: Maybe you play music to get attention, accolades, girls; for your self,  your peers, or you find you express yourself through music. Maybe you are just playing to prove that you are the best at something, or bragging rites that you have played with cat’s that only a few people will know–or millions of people will know. Maybe you only play to worship Yahweh, Buddha, or what ever you find to be the “Higher” power. Some people play music to put their kids through college and some to get free beer. Why do you play music?

I play music because I can’t think of anything more rewarding to put my passion into. With music I can still hang out, work, and have an instrument in my hand. I can teach and learn at the same time, with a student or with friends and play get paid to do it. I am able to express myself and not have to explain it in words. Who do I play for? I play music for myself, my peers, and occasionally the listener (the importance and order change due to the situation). My Music career lets me be well rounded but it never lets me slack off. I get to play “Jazz” upright bass on Thursday and lead worship in a “Christian” setting on Sunday; play blues guitar at home, bang on the drums, or play dueling harmonica with Ed Kemmick. I play music because I have reasoned that I have to, almost as if I don’t have a choice; it is all around: children banging their forks on the table next to mine, the blinker of the car in front of me, in the ventilation system of my favorite restaurant, in and out of our own personal rhythm. The birds are just waking up…what a tune. Music to me is the core of creation and I am interested in your reasons. So, Why do you play music?

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