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The Need for Vulnerability in Music

The Need for Vulnerability in Music

Learning and refining a new skill can be daunting and may be seen as a risk to some. At Stages Music Arts, we know how the need for vulnerability in music is key. Vulnerability allows for the exploration of the vast opportunities music and its instruction have to offer.

Defining Vulnerability

Vulnerability is defined as “the quality or state of being exposed…either physically or emotionally” by the Oxford English Dictionary. It can have positive or negative outcomes. However intimidating it can be, vulnerability, in a positive manner, can heighten a musician’s emotional sensitivity and intensify music performance.

The act of being vulnerable within the realm of music is complex and variable. It can range from being open enough to step out of your comfort zone by beginning music lessons to being confident enough to perform emotion-evoking music in front of complete strangers.

Music, in the most basic terms, tells a story, communicates feelings, and allows connection on a basic human level. These effects are diminished without vulnerability from the musician.

Without vulnerability, the musician typically shows reduced emotional attachment to the music. In order to transform mere notes on a page into something that the listener can connect with, the musician must be sensitive and vulnerable while incorporating a personal connection to the music. In this way, the music can be performed and experienced in its meaningful and intended form.

How it affects musical performance

Some may think that taking the first step towards learning something new, such as signing up for music lessons, is the hardest. While it can be, vulnerability only grows throughout an endeavor, such as music making.

The image shown below portrays the Vulnerability Hierarchy and how complex and multifaceted it can be. Music training and performance can incorporate most, if not all of these vulnerability tiers.

Vulnerability makes for a better musician and allows musicians to create and perform music in the most meaningful way. 

Vulnerability also comes in many forms and intensities.

Most musicians feel more vulnerable performing vocally rather than with a palpable instrument. That we cannot physically separate or disassociate myself from our vocal instrument makes us more susceptible to self-doubt, fear, and negativity around my voice compared to other instruments we perform.

Understanding vulnerability and being open to opportunities, such as performing or learning new techniques, allows us to make music to the best of our ability, both vocally or instrumentally.

On a larger scale of performance, the importance of vulnerability only increases. Instead of being open and present in a one-on-one lesson setting, the performer (of any level) must be able to emote to an audience of their peers and/or strangers, which is extremely difficult.

Vulnerability in front of an audience is hard, and most likely always will be. However, the beauty and opportunities are open, vulnerable musician can experience unmeasurably outweigh those of fear and self-doubt.

Vulnerability and Music Instruction

From a teaching standpoint, we aim to model and guide our students to recognize and acknowledge their vulnerabilities. This helps to mold them into the best, most confident musicians they can be. 

In our studios, we have our students of both piano and voice engage in somewhat silly or awkward exercises. There is always a method to the madness and a technique to refine, no matter how weird the exercise may seem. We find that the students that are willing to be vulnerable and lean into silly or awkward exercises can gain the skill easier and quicker than students who are more reluctant.

Fostering vulnerability in a safe and open atmosphere is essential to music instruction. Students thrive when the learning atmosphere is supportive, nurturing, and empowering. This is how the student recognizes the learning goals and processes that best reinforce their training journey.

About Stages Music Arts

Our mission is to help you find your unique voice by playing the music you love from the start. We strive to inspire students of all ages and abilities to discover your passion, gain confidence, master your instrument and thrive in a supportive community. At Stages Music Arts, you become part of a community centered around the joy and soul of making music!

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