May 15, 2019 by Klaus Crow
Photo by Bigstock photo
“And when our baby stirs and struggles to be born it compels humility: what we began is now its own.” ~ Margaret Mead
Last tuesday my wife gave birth to our third child. His name is “Jim”. I’m truly grateful for the fact Jim and my wife (and of course my two other kids) are healthy and doing great. It’s the only thing that really counts.
I’m happy and I feel blessed! Once again a lesson in “humility”.
A quality that the sage practices constantly according to Lao Tzu.
Reading and studying the Tao Te Ching written by Lao Tzu (legendary Chinese philosopher and a highly spiritual man who lived about 500 years before Christ) there are a lot of beautiful lessons that I learned.
One of those lessons is that life gets way better when you add the following ingredients to your daily life: Serving, helping out, listening, caring, loving, spreading kindness, teaching, sharing and then stepping back. And by the latter he means “not taking the credits for it”. That’s when you really apply the power of humility.
He also talks about happiness and fulfillment. And that it isn’t found in the craving for succes or becoming number one. As the old saying goes “What goes up must come down”.
Lao Tzu refers to all water on top of the highest and most impressive mountains that will eventually come down to the small lakes and rivers down below. He writes: “Those who are humble and stay under the radar will outlast all who strive to be recognized”.
Just let go of the need to be successful in the eyes of others. Let go of status and how you want te be seen as a musician. Just play, perform and share your music. Be respectful, at peace and low-key. Let others “talk” about their talent and success.
By letting go of “wanting to excel above others, to compare, compete and depending on your status” you choose to be free. Free from the madness and free to be who you really are. It will shine through in your music and you as a musician.
So in what more ways can you apply the power of humility as a musician?
Let’s take a closer look:
Be like water
When you work with fellow musicians, music creators and people in the music business be gentle, humble, observe, listen and be flexible. Be like water. Water is fluid, soft and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield.
Whatever is fluid, soft and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. What is soft is strong.
Appreciate your audience
Don’t be indifferent to your audience. That’s not rock ‘n roll, that’s just uncool. Thank your audience for coming before you start playing and thank them afterwards for listening to your music. Show your appreciation, be humble and make beautiful music from your soul.
Teach your students
Share your knowledge, wisdom and skills. Teach others what you know and then step back. Make them believe they accomplished it on their own without your help. Make them proud of themselves. Give them the space to grow and to flourish.
Be a true band member
Respect your band members and be a true fellow musician. Listen to their input and suggestions. Respect each level and interpretation of musicianship. Enjoy and appreciate their company. Be cool and kindhearted. It will come back ten fold.
Zen mind, beginners mind
When you start practicing forget about all the knowledge you accumulated over the years and practice like you pick up the guitar for the first time. Start from a clean slate and practice with a fresh mind. Observe your arms, hands, wrists, fingers and everything else and focus. Explore new ways to improve. Be open and allow things to happen.
Let go of competing or comparing. The less you care about the approval of others, the more approval you’ll receive. Let go of striving to be number one, but just make the music you want to make, play the songs you want to play, become the musician you want to be, live the life you want to live. Listen to your soul and be free.
Be the student
Listen more and speak less. There is more to learn from listening than speaking. People will appreciate your undivided attention and they will remember that. Ask questions. What can you learn from this source of knowledge or wisdom? Watch the people who have done it before you but also listen the new generation who are full of new ideas and insights. Be and remain a humble student of music and life.
Don’t be the one who knows, be the one wants to know.
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jimski brid says
Very eastern flavour to this, Bruce Lee of guitar blogs definitely. It’s one thing I find in life that the true legends appreciate the audience and the learning experience, rather than get caught in a bubble. I have only been switched onto this blog for a few weeks but it is fast becoming a favourite of mine
Another great article — but I have one issue. You quote Lao Tzu as writing “Those who are humble and stay under the radar will outlast all who strive to be recognized”. How could he have said “…under the radar?” I’d like to know what the actual quote is. It’s a small thing, but precision in writing is as important as precision in playing — especially for someone like you who regularly inspires so many people.
Thanks for all the great stuff, Klaus.
Klaus Crow says
Thanks for your kind comment.
Klaus Crow says
There are a lot of translations of the Tao Te Ching. They are all interpretations, the translators tried to come as close as possible to what Lao Tzu really meant. But eventually it had to be converted to western language which is quite difficult, because the Chinese language is made up of characters and works different from western language. Words can mean different things. So “under the radar” is just figuratively speaking and we all know what that means.
congratulations on the new baby.
heard someone ( abraham hicks? eckhart tolle ?) say once , we need to go from “just do it ” to just DONT do it. maybe were all trying too hard for that elusive pot of gold/ fame/ success / peace of mind. we are human BEINGS and not human doings after all :D
Hi Klaus sir,
I like the points you have described in the post.It is a thought provoking post.I am going to work on humility.This is an essential quality for musicians.Thanks for sharing.
Christopher Hudson says
Good stuff, Klaus … I always find your insights helpful.
David Patrick says
I feel privileged to have seen one of your videos on youtube a few weeks back and as a beginner/intermediate player/student I feel I have made more progress (and have heard the comments too) than since I started maybe 5 years back. I also feel like my unbalanced universe is starting to right it self and am happy to have read this blog today.
I have as yet to post comment on one of your gift videos, but will say here also, I know You are human- but You have a special and gifted talent of teaching how to play a complicated instrument that makes ones efforts flow and appeal to any ear- I am both humble and grateful for that, and find my practice time is more valuable now than wasted and my creativity and inspiration is more alive.
Congratulations on Your New addition and Bless You and Your Family Sir.
Thank-You for sharing Your wisdom and inspiration…it does indeed make the World a better Place. T.C. David.
This is such an important lesson. I especially like the point about focusing on the guitar as if it’s the first time you’ve played it. You could also experience the guitar in a different way by focusing on the guitar as if it’s the last time you will ever play one. As you practice, pay extreme attention to how it feels, how it smells, how it sounds, doing so as if you will never see a guitar again. Because the truth is, it very well might be the last time you ever get to play. This is true not only of the guitar, but of all things in life. We never know when this gift of life will end, so appreciate it!