Why I don’t play an instrument

I don’t have many theories on life, nothing like Sick Boy’s unifying theory of life from Trainspotting, but I do have one personal philosophy on the arts that I’m a little proud of and like to spout at the hours of the night suited to sustaining pseudo-intellectual platitudes. I listen to a lot of music and enjoy talking about it, but have never really tried to dabble in it myself, aside from a few recorder lessons as a first-grader that culminated in me throwing my recorder to the ground during my first recital.

Sometimes I fantasize about being a rock star (Who doesn’t?) or even just strumming a guitar after a long day, but for the most part I think that respecting music only as an outsider to it’s inner workings is beneficial to my sanity. Maybe my ego is over inflated, but when reading I have something of a competitive streak. Really good lines are appealing, but in the back of my mind I can’t help but compare my own work to the them. Beyond this, I also find myself dissecting pieces of literature, identifying various craft elements that make them what they are. I think this a good thing for me as a writer, but worry that it damages my immersion as a reader.

I can handle this with one art, literature, but don’t think I could deal with doing the same for another, music. I have close to no grasp on the ways in which music works, I’m nescient as to what the different notes are, I don’t really get what chord progressions are, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of my overall musical ignorance. Yet, this means that music is untouched by any sort of law for me, it’s like a miracle to me. It also means that I in no way compare myself to whatever musician I’m listening to. I may pick mental fights with Hemingway’s craft (I don’t win), but not with Hendrix. Okay maybe a lyric makes me jealous every now and then, but instrumentals are too abstracted from my understanding to stoke any sort of envy in me. I respect people who attempt to take on multiple arts, but I know that it’s best for me to stick to the one and let the others retains their mystery. One form of artistic turmoil is enough for me. 

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