Anyone who has ever touched an instrument or sung falls into one of three general groups or classes.
By discussing these categories, I hope to open your mind to areas in your own playing that you might need to develop. By the end of this article, you will know what category you fall into. If you end up in the category you want to be under, great. If not, I will give you the knowledge to get to the category you want to be in.
The 3 categories are:
1. The Player2. The Musician3. The Artist
1. The Player
This is an odd stage. I bet a lot of you aren't even aware that you are in fact, a player. This category tends to belong to Beginners, hobbyists and the overall elementary through high school student groups.
People who stay in this category for a long time are not usually that serious about music. They often quit the instrument and move forward with the rest of their lives.
As the name suggests, these people are learning how to play the instrument. Most learn to read music at this stage as well, but that can differ depending on the instrument. Guitar players and singers usually don't learn to read music until later in their studies. Guitar students should never learn to read music right away, because it will kill their interest in learning. That is a subject for another time though.
Back to players. Players learn to play their instrument, read in their own specific musical staff and usually know a couple of scales. That's about as far as their knowledge goes.
Elementary students and high school students are perfect examples. The vast majority of student players will work on the physical act of playing the instrument and learning scales. This isn't necessarily a bad thing because that's all they really need to know. They play the music the conductor gives them to play. There's no real reason to get deeper than this.
You could say similar things about people who play guitar or sing.
The common guitar player knows some songs, chords and scales. Many of them don't even know how to read music.
The common singer just opens their mouth. They don't learn to really develop their voice. On top of that, most don't read music.
If you fall into this category and you don't want to be in this category, there is no reason to be upset. There are plenty of things you can do to get yourself into the category you want to be in.
2. The Musician
The musician is a step up from players. The typical musician knows some theory, many different scales and how to apply them together. They might even have some knowledge of basic harmony.
Most musicians are still primarily just playing the instrument, but to a much higher degree. Most musicians are obsessed with being technically proficient. Some are obsessed to such a degree that simple music is "bad music" or boring.
This is extremely common among guitar players in genres where technical playing has a higher value, such as classical, jazz and metal.
Common statements I hear from typical musicians are:
" - Oh that song sucks, it's only 4 chords" or "That song's terrible, the solo is so bad."
In a nutshell, musicians tend to ignore the emotional aspect of music and make it all about the complexity of the music.
Another common issue with musician, is they tend to neglect other essential area's in their musical development and they become lopsided players.
Typically, their visualization is poor and they don't recognize the emotion in music besides the basic sad or happy.
Strangely enough, their music theory knowledge and ears are usually solid, but those skills are useless because they usually don't apply them.
Last, but not least, most musicians can't write a song to save their life.
3. The Artist
The last stage I want to talk about, is the artist.
The artist tends to understand that emotional quality is important or at least more so than the complexity of the music. They also don't judge a song based off on how complex the music is.
Now I want to stop really quick and point out that the artist stage is not the ultimate goal of every person or the "final stage." If a person wants to be great, he needs a balance of both musicianship and artistry.
That being said, there is no better feeling in the world than writing and finishing a composition, especially if it's a masterpiece.
To write at this level takes time, dedication and mastery of almost every musical skill. As an artist, you are experiencing the highest level of musical accomplishment and satisfaction possible. Many who don't compose are probably disagreeing, but how would know if you don't write?
I might sound hypocritical. If being an artist is so great, why is it not the ultimate goal or final stage. It's not the final stage because there are many people who call themselves artists and have poor control over the aspects of music.
Some people feel like technique isn't worth learning because they're artists. Speaking like they're above someone who has developed their musical skills.
Other artists lack a conscious control of rhythm, melody, harmony etc. They just play and use whatever comes out. This is a very primitive form of artistry.
When you have control over the elements of music, it's really easy to tell if someone else doesn't. For instance, their songs all sit in the 4/4 time signature, since that's the natural time signature for people.
All their songs tend to sound the same because they rely on similar patterns. They tend to write really predictable work. There may be a lot of music out there, but not a lot of great music.
It's great to be an artist, but without those musical skills backing you up, it really doesn't mean a thing. If I had to pick out a final stage, I would call it the musical artist.
The Musical Artist
True musical artists, love sophisticated music.
They love Music that shows off the artist's control of the elements, their style and a great control over the emotion being represented in their song.
They are a jack-of-all-trades. High level technical skills, ear training, visualization, theory, composition and any other skill you can think of.
Only a small portion of people ever reach this level of competence, but it's really not that difficult. You just need the desire to reach that level of competence and have a teacher who can get you there.
Just because only a small portion of people reach that level doesn't mean you can't. Those who don't reach the musical artist class either don't see the whole picture, don't care to reach that level or haven't gotten there yet.
You get what you focus on in life.
So don't send me hate mail about how you disagree. If you don't like the category you're in, then put the time and effort into building your craft to the level you desire.
About the Author: By Chris Glyde. http://rochesterguitarlessons.com.