Monday, April 23, 2007


Having the desire and willingness to do something.
Deployment of energy is often evidence of motivation.

Nearly every site returned when you google "motivation" has to do with the lack of motivation and how to generate it when it's mssing. Judging from the Google evidence, one could conclude that no one really knows where motivation comes from, what causes it, or how to create it.

Thankfully, I'm motivated once again with regard to my music, but I wonder why? And what's the relationship between artistic inspiration and motivation?

Looking back, my silver flute vs. Irish flute quandry as described in my February 2 post was evidence of frustration. My playing had reached a plateau, and I was wondering if my lack of progress had to do with the instrument itself. Someone named Sam Wise left me an amazing comment reassuring me that I didn’t necessarily have to switch to the Irish flute. I started to realize that if I’m looking for the shortest route to playing well, I should seriously consider continuing on the instrument I’ve played since I was 13 years old. Duh!

Shortly after writing that post, preparation for several performances distracted me from my frustration. In mid-February, I was asked to play a St. Patrick’s Day gig at the Half King Bar & Restaurant with Lorcan Otway’s band, Sorcha Dorcha (pronounced sorka dorka and translated as Dark Sarah in Gaelic). Since I knew very little of Sorcha Dorcha’s repertoire, I plunged into learning approximately 20 new tunes and brushing up about 10 more tunes that I didn’t know well enough to perform.

Poster by Lorcan Otway, used with permission.

In addition to the Sorcha Dorcha activities, I had to learn tunes and rehearse with my other group, The Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra, since they were scheduled for a couple of performances as well -- the Irish Heritage Concert at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on March 15th and the April 20th annual awards ceremony at City Hall sponsored by the NYC Department of Education’s Irish American Heritage & Cultural Committee.

In a reflective moment this weekend I realized how motivated I feel now as compared with last February. Pondering how exactly this shift occurred, I have been able to isolate several contributing factors:

• Recent performances. Performing generally creates positive reinforcement. I’m finally beginning to realize that performing is about bringing enjoyment, not displaying perfection. (what a relief!)

• Feeling of competence. All the hours I’ve spent practicing over the last two months has improved my tone as well as my technique. I seem to have pushed through the plateau of last February. I now feel less discouraged by the aspects of my technique that still need work.

• Resolution on the instrument dilemma. I’ve decided to stick with the silver flute and to accept the challenges that implies.

While it's possible to analyze and dissect some of the sources for my present motivation, I doubt I will ever have a really good answer to why it is that throughout my whole life I have felt drawn to playing music. Maybe it’s genetic, or to take the religious viewpoint, maybe God intended it. Or from the psychological standpoint, maybe it’s the only uncomplicated component to my relationship to my mother. Who knows? It boggles the mind. I think I’ll just go with Jimmy Cagney’s line from the movie Strawberry Blonde:

...that’s just the kind of hairpin I am.

© 2007, Linda Mason Hood
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