Marco Noto

Groove Management

Are We Having Fun Yet?

“Have fun!” or “Did you have fun?” is something I used to hear quite a bit from the kind and wonderful ladies in my home on my way down to the basement to practice, when I left for a gig, or when I returned home from playing (see how even the term “playing” insidiously invokes the idea of fun?). Mind you, I’m not complaining. On the contrary, I consider myself very lucky to have their support and encouragement. My response used to be something like “it’s not fun, it’s work” or “the fun comes later.” These responses triggered some odd looks, so now I generally hear “I know it won’t be fun, but try to make the best of it” or “hope you don’t suffer too much” as I head out the door to some musical activity. Funny people, these….

I’ve thought a bit about the idea of “fun” in relationship to “music” and realize that, to the people who watch us, it sure must look like fun. And in my case it’s a hobby, not the way I earn a living. Invoke the idea of a hobby and it sure seems like some damn fun should be involved! But...I’ve always felt that the term “fun” seemed so frivolous. Something better suited for hobbies like brewing beer or playing club soccer, or maybe drinking lots of beer and playing club soccer at the same time.

There are moments when I have fun playing the drums, but they are moments. Most of the time I am working at music, consciously seeking to improve my playing and critiquing my performance (sometimes in the very act of performing). On occasion, after the hard work is done, and when everything is clicking and I’m able to hit the “flow” stage, I have a fleeting encounter with “fun.” I try to hold on to the feeling for as long as I can to help justify the practicing, packing up and loading out, setting up and tearing down, and all the other things that are involved in my chosen hobby.

I’m interested in hearing from other musicians on the concept of fun in your musical life. Do you enjoy practicing? Anyone especially fond of the other pre and post-gig activities I mentioned above? Do we have to suffer for our art? Do I need therapy?  :)