Friday, March 15, 2013

Musicians, Maestros, and Muses




Aubrie Dionne is visiting my blog today to talk about how being a musician helps her write and inspired her new book.

How Being a Musician has Made me a Better Writer

1.     Music has taught me patience, hard work and discipline. Practicing an instrument is like exercising- you don’t see the rewards right away. It takes a good week of long tones to finally start sounding stronger at all and years to get the fuzziness out of your tone. It wasn’t until Grad school-twelve years of playing- that I started to achieve the clear, resonant flute tone that I have today by changing small things with the shape and size of my mouth, my lips, and my chest cavity. So, if anything, music has taught me that patience, hard work, and discipline will yield results sooner or later- you just have to keep working at it.

2.     Music has taught me how much time you really need to invest be a pro. I just read an article in Flute Talk magazine- yup there’s such a thing- about this conservatory teacher who asks his students to practice 20 hours a week- that’s like 3 hours a day! If you truly want to sound professional, than you need to spend A LOT of time with your instrument. I have to practice an hour or two a day just to maintain the level that I’m at for rehearsals and teaching.

The same goes for writing. 500 words a day isn’t going to cut it. Right now I dedicate 2-3 hours a day to my writing, and finally, I’m starting to see results.

3.     Music has taught me how to express emotion. The tools you use with music are different than with writing, but you need emotion in both just the same. With music, you use vibrato-waves in the sound, dynamics-loud and soft, rubato- bending the tempo, and emphasis on certain key notes to achieve an emotional result. They all have to work together in synch and make sense to produce the desired effect. With writing, you can achieve emotion with a mix of internal thoughts, outward actions, character arcs and development, and specific associations to produce a desired emotional effect- but it has to work right together- just like music to produce the emotional result.

4.     Music has taught me how to receive criticism in a positive way and how to use it to better myself. Each week at a music lesson, if you have a good teacher, your teacher will give you suggestions on how to improve. If you take those suggestions, over time you start to see how they can make you a better player. Sometimes you don’t want to hear how you don’t sound clear, or you’re playing the wrong rhythm, but you grow to learn that your teacher is there to help make you better. The same goes with your editor. You have to truly listen to what they are saying and then try to implement it in your writing.

Tell me, what part of your jobs or careers has helped you with your writing?


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40 comments:

  1. Thanks for having me on your blog today! I'll be back in the evening to reply to comments- have to work all day.

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    1. I'm happy to host you, Aurbie. The necklace is really nice. I'll be working all day and I'm traveling tonight, so my day is going to be crazy too.

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  2. Everything you mentioned will take you a long way with your writing.

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  3. I'm a musician and it's definitely taught me a lot about practicing, timing, and rhythm.

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    1. Yes, I should have included that as well! Good thinking!

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  4. I'm a fantasy and sci-fi person. My job is...hmmm...not so much lol!

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    1. That means you have a great imagination!

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  5. Being in theater has helped my writing. I have a feel for getting into a character and viewing things from their POV.

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  6. I can see how being a musician helps with your writing! I'm a mother of three teen boys, and let me tell you, that helps me a lot! I see a heck of a lot from the boys' point of view, and from girls'.

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  7. I can see so much how the lessons from music apply to writing, Aubrie. I think it's like that for any artistic or sports a person pursues with passion. Thanks for sharing this and good luck with your book.

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  8. Hello Theresa and hell Aubrie! Awww if music be the food of love, play on!

    I work in academia so I totally appreciate the value of good research! Take care
    x

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  9. Now that makes great sense. I think writing, like music has to come from a deep place in the heart, and your lessons illustrate that quite well.

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  10. Ah, the old 'must practise every hour of the day' thing. With the guitar, we have Steve Vai to blame when it comes to that. Yet no one mentions jazz guitar virtuoso Martin Taylor, who famously practises no more than about half an hour a day. I think sometimes we like to believe that quantitative differences will be enough.

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    1. Good point. I think it depends on what you do when you practice. Some people can practice more efficiently than others.

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  11. Wonderful lessons, Aubrie! Especially how many hours we have to put in - less procrastination, more writing!
    The main aspect of my job that bisects my writing life is all the editing I get to do at work - love using that red pen.

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    1. I love red pens, too! Thanks for stopping by, Deniz!

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  12. I wish I knew how to play an instrument. I played the flute long ago and have since forgotten how to, but this list still rings true for me.

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    1. You should pick it up again! It's never too late!

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  13. Hi Theresa and Aubrie - what a great post ... and I'm sure so true - it's definitely perseverance and continuity in working and practising ... I'd love to be more musical .... but I love the learning.

    You ask re what has helped ... relaxing into blogging and becoming friends with many bloggers ... they encourage you; also blogs can teach us so many aspects of life - writing; challenges others have in life; technical support; and supportive comments and ideas ...

    Cheers Hilary

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  14. Hello Theresa and Hi Aubrie!

    Oh, I'd love to play some instrument! Reading helps me.

    All the best!

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  15. I wish I had a small piece of your musical talent. But alas, I have none.

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    1. Everyone has some musical talent! You just have to find the right instrument for you. For instance, I suck at piano. Had I picked that first, I would have quit the first day!

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  16. Beautiful thoughts! Thanks, Aubrie. I love that you write (and practice the flute) so stringently. It makes me want to be better so I catch subtleties in my craft better.

    With being an ecologist, I know I pay better attention to outdoor setting details than others might. Perhaps too much. lol! Thanks for sharing this interview, Theresa! <3

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    1. Very cool that you are an ecologist! That would help with outdoor scenes!

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  17. I really need to practice piano and write more!

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  18. I used to play the violin. That was so long ago and I've always regretted not staying with it. Now I buy CDs with violin soloists!

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    1. That's great you still listen to violinists! You should pick it up again!

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  19. Nice post. I love the idea of how music can affect writing: Symphonies are composed in novel form, when you think of it: four movements, repeating themes (subplots), a climax, denouement. And suspense, too, listening to see how it will all be resolved. So I think one can learn by listening as well as by playing an instrument.

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