Dear 1999

Sending love to my past self
Sending love to my past self

The fabulous people over at Musician’s Wages are asking a question of musician bloggers today:  “If you could go back to 1999 and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?”

I admit, I wasn’t exactly sure how to participate at first.  On this blog which is more about other musicians?  On my MySpace music blog, which is more about my own music, but I know isn’t the ideal place to even be blogging?  On my tumblr?  I seem to have split up all these different but related areas surrounding music, probably because I’m still a little afraid to admit that I’m making music of my own, along with appreciating and sharing music made by others.

But then I realized that my one piece of advice really applies to it all.

Dear Self in 1999,

I know you’ve only had an email address for a couple of years now and you can’t begin to imagine the tools and websites that are going to be developed for connecting, sharing and making music in the next ten years.  I know you’ve only had glimmers of an idea to pick up a guitar.  You won’t believe me if I tell you that in 2007 you’ll start a blog about women musicians and a radio show where you interview them ON THE PHONE less than a year after that.  (I know, I know, you hate talking on the phone!)  I could give you lots of advice about how you should practice, practice, practice your own music.  That you should go ahead and buy some domains and start off with WordPress so you don’t have to switch to it later.  That you should learn more about sound engineering, sight-reading and music theory.  But I think all those things will come in their proper time if you can get this one thing down, so pay attention.

Please realize that the world is full of people who have their own subjective opinions, but they will often express those opinions as objective facts.

Don’t be afraid to just try things out and form your OWN opinions.  Just because you’re not as experienced in one form or another as these people expressing their opinions as fact does not mean that you don’t have your own taste, your own ear, your own things to say and your own things that resonate with you.  There’s no right or wrong, good or bad music, just different kinds of music and the people who enjoy it or don’t.  Their opinions do not invalidate yours.  This is true whether you are listening to music, sharing it with others or making it yourself.  Don’t let differing opinions keep you from your joy, whatever that joy may be in the moment.  There is room enough in the world for all those opinions!

Your fear of rocking the boat or looking foolish, your need to please, your perfectionism (the I-can’t-do-this-perfectly-so-why-even-try attitude) these are the things that will hold you back from even starting to practice, from writing, from grabbing domain names and starting a radio show for months after you come up with the concept and have been blogging it instead (not that you shouldn’t be blogging – you should, you’ll love it!).  Learn to be OK with not being perfect.  After all, the only way to get better at something is to do it, so you sure won’t be perfect at first.

Share joyfully, be brave, make friends who support your endeavors, stay away from the negative people, the critics and the downers.  They have enough of an audience, they don’t need your help and will get along just fine without you.  And you’ll get to where you want to be a lot faster without them.


Heather in 2009

4 Responses to “Dear 1999”

  1. Chris says:

    I really enjoyed that. My biggest issue has always been confidence (well, the lack thereof) and worrying about other people’s opinions so I can definitely relate. Great post.

  2. Dave Zeman says:

    Amen … Happy New Year!

  3. Anna-Lisa says:

    I love your letter. You have written some important things that I need to remember!

  4. Stacey says:

    I love what you wrote here. I am feeling a little like ‘first time on two legs’. But surprisingly I am not hesitant about getting my art ‘out there’, but fascinated with the process, inner and outer. I love what you wrote. Thank you. I will come back to it.

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