Make Your Story Their Story

30 Sep


I had krav maga this morning, 6:45 AM sharp. It hurt to wake up. I was having some weird dream about being carted away to an internment camp…I need to stop reading conspiracy books. The initial infatuation with krav has faded into a deep respect for getting up early and punching and kicking things, but I’m finding my energy level in class falters sometimes. This probably has to do with me needing to eat more salads and less breakfast tacos.

So I was trying to do this side punch thing where you whip around and just smack the pad, and our instructor (who is AWESOME) had already described it as holding up your arm like Dracula holds up his cape over his face. This visual helped a lot. As she came over to check out my punch, she noted I was kind of just keeping my fist in the pad instead of bringing it back out quickly. So she tells me, “When you pluck a guitar string, if you keep your finger there, the sound is dead. So you have to pluck it and remove your finger quickly to make the best sound.” This helped, and I appreciated that she talked to me with an example she knew I could relate to in the moment.

She could have just said, “You’re a wimpy musician who’s scared about hurting her hands, so do the best you can,” but that wouldn’t have helped me at all. She found a way to keep the principles of krav maga in place, show me something properly, and relate it to something I’m familiar with doing. That is called synergy, and it leads to inspiration.

Makes me think about how musicians approach an audience, a fan, their business. No musician should sell out to what they think a large group of people want, that doesn’t work for most indie artists and would be the equivalent of the above example…giving up and saying, “Here, this is my watered down art that I think you want.”

On the flip side, keeping yourself completely inaccessible to a larger audience doesn’t do any good either if you’re trying to get people on your side and make a living at it. Your art is special, yes…but it’s your job to market it in such a way that people feel invited to hear it, see it, experience it. The art and technique of krav maga is it’s own giant study, but walking into class I was not interested in that my first day. I was more concerned with not looking like a dork (ha!) and not breaking an arm. Our instructor is great about really practical applications and descriptions, and that’s what brought my story into the story of krav maga. What if I’m loading gear out of a bar in Fort Worth and something goes down? That’s practical application.

Practically applying your music to people’s lives is simultaneously tricky and easy. Do what you do…but the spirit of changing peoples lives comes through living your own and living it well. Susan’s new album project does just that, I think…she’s asking for stories from people so she can write songs from them. She’s making their stories hers, and in turn the people writing their stories down have a whole new story to tell. I’m excited about the impact of simply writing down a story someone has in their head and how it might change their day or month or life. We might never know the inspirations that happen, and I don’t think my instructor reads my blog so she might never know how her example helped me, but the effect is there…that’s what it’s about.

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