The Tuesday after Thanksgiving has been declared “Giving Day.” I’m on the board of an environmental nonprofit (Earth Law Center), and Giving Tuesday is a good reminder for me to make a donation and to bug my friends to do the same.
This season, I’ve come up with a different way to think about giving. As musicians, we each embody precious gifts. For some, it might be the gift of story or writing lyrics. Others write killer melodies. Some play an instrument or lay down a rhythm track. While others use their voice to carry the song to the listener.
Music makes a difference in people’s lives. Couples dance and date to it, and then get married to it. Individuals drive to it, work to it, create to it. And sometimes people die with it playing in the background.
How powerful is that? And how amazing is it that we can be involved in the process of creating music? During my career in the television business, I never called myself a musician. Now get this—I have two degrees in Music Education and had written a few hundred songs, yet called it an ‘avocation.’ I didn’t think of myself as a “professional musician,” so I didn’t share my music with others.
That changed a few years ago when I joined the robust Los Angeles music community. I experienced a warm and welcoming reception just for showing up. And since then, I’ve had a 100-gig year and continue to develop my songwriting and performing skills.
Maybe I was inspired by Oscar Hammerstein II, who said it best in The Sound of Music:
“A bell's not a bell ‘til you ring it. A song’s not a song ‘til you sing it. Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay. Love’s only love when you give it away.”
Now, more than ever, we all need to come out of our shell and share our gift of music. Play it more at home. Jam more with others. Gig more. Sing songs that uplift the audience, or give them something to think about, or just let them know that we all live and love in this world together. It's giving time. Time to sing and play out loud so the world can hear your voice. Don’t wait to be asked. Just give. Give your music away.