What does it Mean to PLay?

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One of the main tools I use while working with artists is the concept of play. 

I hear you, musicians and artists are ALWAYS playing, this must be so natural for them, they don’t need help playing, blah, blah, blah. 

But honestly, I find most artists, especially the really good ones, are often challenged in this area. They know when something they create is undeniable and they know when it’s not. There can be a tremendous pressure when you walk into the studio and your thought is, “Am I about to make the greatest recording of my career, of my life, of the history of music … today?”

And the honest truth is … maybe! 

You really never know, but I’ll tell you this, the best recordings happened when the artists were out of their heads, out of their expectations they put on themselves or they allow others to put on to them or their plans for how to market the art once it’s completed, or, or, or. 

All of that stuff disrupts and makes us too meta. We suddenly are standing outside of bodies critiquing what we’re doing in the moment we’re doing it. 

So what is the easiest way to shake this off? 


Try things that are waaaaay outside of your comfort zone. Pick up an instrument (if we’re staying in the world of music) that you’ve never played before. Try chords that you don’t know and couldn’t possibly begin to guess the words for. Anything and everything that may seem silly, but just might be brilliant. 

And here’s the important part, play well with others.

If you’re in the room with someone else, be it a bandmate, songwriting partner, producer, mentor, anyone. It doesn’t matter who had what idea. 

I’ll repeat: It doesn’t matter who had what idea.


Allow the person to play with you. They’re your teammate. If you’re a lyricist but your bass player hears the line for an incredible lyric, use that lyric. If the singer hears a bitchin’ groove for a bass line, use that bassline! Nobody cares but your ego. 

And great collaborators and great songs are created when everyone works together to hear the music. It’s a shared vibration. It’s in the ether surrounding you, so together you strengthen that signal when you’re connected.  

So if in the process you start feeling stuck. You start feeling like you’re in your head. Start playing and don’t question what flows from there. 

I have to thank my dear friend Casey Abrams who embodies this concept so wholeheartedly, he changes any room he walks into and brings such a present, playful energy that is infectious. 

Pro Tip. This works when you’re recording yourself, all alone. You can activate this same tool even by yourself. Especially by yourself. 

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