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Inspired to create

May 26, 2020

Just add music

My daughter is making a school media art film. She just texted me:
"Mum, my art film is way disturbing... I just added music... it even freaks ME out! Soooooo cool!"

What I loved about this moment is that Emily discovered for herself the wow moment of inspiration in the way the music transformed her story. Her film clips were her first inspiration, the story she wanted to tell. Then, when she created just the right music, this was the moment that her movie was elevated into a deeply emotional experience, and inspiration came full circle.

When does inspiration happen?

I think we first become aware of inspiration when something comes acoss our radar that just resonates with us and gives that feeling of 'I want to be part of that', be it a movie, a story, a picture or a memory. I conducted a Play a Story demonstration class in San Diego one year and I remember after the class the children (around 5 years old) gathered outside just as a light drizzle of rain cleared. One child picked up a shiny black, wet pebble from the garden. Holding it's glossy surface to the sun, he said "I wonder what this would sound like if it was music." That's inspiration!

The next moment of inspiration occurs in the act of creating. It takes us from 'I want to be a part of that' to 'I am a part of that'.

Inspired improvisation

Improvisation happens best when we are inspired. Often inspiration begins receptively, by means of external stimuli, then generatively, through personal participation. In the experience of Play a Story, we are inspired receptively through the visual stories, pictures, and movies - the more vivid and emotive the input, the more heightened the inspiration. But if it remains there, we have missed out on one of the most exquisite attributes of being human - creativity. How wonderful to experience the joy of inspiration through playing; to be inspired by a moment (receptively), and then experience ultimate inspiration through creativity (generative).

These two aspects of inspiration form a powerful relationship in the Innermusician programs. One compliments the other. If you are inspired only by the moment, without participation, you may never hear your inner music. Similarly without  inspirational input, the improvisational experience can be dry and you may struggle to reach the full emotional potential of your music.

Does this mean that you can only improvise to a physical, visual stimulation? No. It is common for musicians to be inspired by picturing a mental scene or emotional memory in their imagination as they play. Sometimes the unfolding improvisation itself is the inspiration that feeds the music as it develops, pouring itself out across the instrument. Whether it's visual, sensory or imagined, inspiration forms the essential energy to create. The actual moment of improvisation thereafter is pure inspiration itself! 

So be inspired to play!

Go get that calendar picture or photo you love so much, or remember a moment in your day that made you realise you were alive. Make that your inspiration for a fresh improvisation today. You can also find inspirational material in our programs. Our programs provide emotive short movies, pictures and stories across various themes, inspiring you to take your music to another realm. Regardless of age or experience, musicians agree that inspiration transforms their playing.

What inspires you musically? How does it affect you personally?