Do Music First

My friend Beth and I were driving home from the farmers’ market last Saturday, and talking about our plans for the rest of the day. Her plans involved beating back the forces of chaos and entropy and finding the horizontal surfaces in her house. She even talked about washing woodwork. Then, she said, she thought she’d play some mandolin and work on the songs she’s learning.

Without even stopping to take a breath I blurted out, “Do music first!”

For both of us growing up, whatever work there was to be done had to be completed before we could do anything that smacked of “fun.” For me, homework had to be done before I could go outside and play. Dinner dishes had to be washed, dried and put away before I could escape to my room to read or play my guitar. On Saturdays, the house had to be vacuumed and the grass mowed before I could do anything with my friends.

This “work first, fun later” pattern was all too easy to carry along to adult life. The list of chores and responsibilities grew ever longer, leaving smaller and smaller windows of time where fun might squeeze in. And so it was also all too easy to put off harp practice (fun) until after all the work was done, and then find myself too tired and without enough time and imagination left to make harp practice worthwhile.

It was time for a revolution, for considering that the earth would not stop turning on its axis if I did something I liked, if I dared to “have fun” before I did my chores. I bravely devised a new “I’m-an adult-and-can-do-what-I-want” philosophy: Do Music First. Before the dishes, before the laundry, before the dusting, before the gardening, before scooping the cat litter, before running errands, before the cooking and the shopping – before all the tasks and responsibilities of being an adult, do music first. Play my harp, and do what I love and what is the most important to me, first.

The world did not end.  The health inspectors don’t knock on my door because the breakfast dishes aren’t done until after harp practice. There is still food on the grocery store shelves when I shop in the afternoon instead of first thing in the morning.  The weeds don’t walk off and hide – they’re all still there waiting for me when I get to the garden. Life doesn’t seem to mind a bit if I have fun first and work later.

And so I encourage you, and challenge you, to start your days doing what you love, doing what is most important to you. Whatever it is, whatever makes your heart sing and your soul glad, do it first.

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18 thoughts on “Do Music First

  1. Love, love, love this…I will try to play and sing, and play and sing, and then if I have any energy left, maybe I’ll clean the house. Awesome plan! 🙂

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    1. That’s the spirit!!!! I promise you, the dirty house won’t run off and go anywhere – it will wait until after playing and singing. Glad you liked the post, and thanks for subscribing.

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  2. Hello — Just found your blog via Julian’s. What lovely writing! I whole-heartedly agree with this post, as I am guilty of the “work first, play later” mentality. So good to rethink it. I’ve also been enamored with the harp for some time, so I’m excited to look through your archives, as well. Such a beautiful instrument. And I love that you’re blogging as you learn. Good music, indeed. 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Emily, and welcome. I’m glad you stumbled upon my blog. Sounds like the harp is calling you – and as The Borg would say, “Resistance is futile!” Perhaps the blog will encourage you to take the plunge!

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  3. That is an excellent philosophy! I grew up with the word first-play second mentality as well and I still adhere to that (most of the time) even though I’m an adult. However, every once and a while, the laundry doesn’t get done and neither do the dishes because I’m too busy writing. 🙂

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  4. I’m in! My passions are words and art … and I always play with one of those pursuits before chores, in fact, I don’t care if I ever get to the chores. I grew up in a household similar to yours. I had a working mom and being the oldest girl was her surrogate. Playing came last then and all the way through to the last couple of years, work came first. Now I’m learning what it means to be retired and the sun shines a lot brighter every day when I play first.

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  5. So true! We must have been raised in the same family! You are so right about carrying that into our adult lives. In fact, thanks for that motivation…I’m going to log out of my email and go practice.

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    1. Yes, I think we share many family characteristics. It’s not that getting the work done is bad, it’s that when done as rigidly as my mother required, it negated any possibility of joy. Hooray for us being able to make different choices!!!!

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  6. I’ve come to this same conclusion. I’ve always found it quite hard to motivate myself to practice, so I try to get it done first so it’s ‘out of the way’ and I can get on with other stuff I have to and want to do like chores, meeting friends, emails etc. and I don’t have to worry that I haven’t done any. It’s a big load off my mind when my practice is done for the day – yet I rarely get that feeling. One can always do more.

    So for me it is still ‘work before play’ – only practice counts as work!

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  7. It is such a challenge, as we all feel guilty if we do our loves before our chores. I still am struggling with this one….as most of us do. Thanks or the reminder to challenge our priorities!

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