Kenny Werner says that as a musician, your fear of sounding bad totally chokes up your playing. You can’t be free and expressive and make beautiful music with a meaning behind it (which is the whole point), if all you’re thinking about is “holy crap, is this good music or bad music, do I sound good or bad, will I be a success or a failure?” It’s all BS.
Here’s a particular favorite quote of mine from his book Effortless Mastery:
Here is a very simple test to prove that music is not that important:Go to the kitchen and get a plastic bag. Place it over your head, tying the opening snugly around your neck so that no air can get through. Now, let’s count to one hundred. By the count of twenty, let me ask you: how important is music? Are there any ”burning issues”? Is Charlie Parker important? By the count of 35, would you be debating whether or not bebop was the real music? By 54, no doubt you would be contemplating whether music should swing, or whether free jazz really is where it’s at. At 73, the question would burn in your consciousness; ”Is Cecil Taylor for real?”I think you get the point. The only thing that’s really important is your next breath. We lose sight of reality very easily because of the little dictator in our heads: the mind. Our mind is always feeding us messages: ”I must sound good;” ”This is the right music, that is the wrong music;” ”This is valid jazz, that is politically correct jazz” (yes, we have that these days). Or it sends us messages like: ”I’m not supposed to play really great, because I’m a woman,” or ”I’m white,” or ”I’m European,” or ”only guys who live in New York can really play,” or ”I’m too old, and I can’t learn to play any better.” The mind is always supplying a steady stream of these illusions of limitation. They don’t happen to be true, but they prevent you from seeing or hearing truth.