Friday, May 18, 2012

music and trust

How does trust show up in music?

All through the listening, performing, and making of music, when you stop to consider it.

As a performer, it’s an act of trust in those who have come to listen: that they will hear you, that you’ll connect with them, that they will listen. It is also an act of trust in yourself, that you have gifts to share, and that you will do your part in connecting with your listeners.

session at pjs ireland copyright kerry dexter

“I’m the same person on stage as I am off stage. When you’re on stage, you have to be yourself. You have to be authentic. If you’re not, audiences can tell that a mile off, and then you’ve lost them.” -- Irish American singer and songwriter Cathie Ryan



In writing music, in recording it and taking all the steps to get recordings released, you have to trust your own voice and commitment, and just as you do on stage, you have to trust others who work with you. You also have to trust those who listen.

“In songwriting, there’s a line between being true, and being too personal. My songs aren’t my diaries: I have my diaries for that. But I use the details of my own life, my own experiences, to find words and stories for experiences we both share, stories that people will recognize, and think ah, I’ve felt that way, but I didn't have the words for it.” -- Americana singer and songwriter Carrie Newcomer


carrie newcomer club passim copyright kerry dexterAs a listener, it is an act of trust to give time and attention to what a musician has to offer. It is also an act of trust to follow those ideas where they may lead, be that to contemplation, action, laughter, or maybe dancing -- it is an act of trust all around to let music move you.

“A good song is powerful -- three minutes, and you come out of it and know you see the world a little differently. It’s rearranged your DNA.” -- country and folk songwriter Gretchen Peters.


Over at her site Nancy Marmolejo. has been considering how trust and vulnerability show up in business when your business is being a coach or a mentor. Thanks to Nancy for the idea of exploring ways this plays out in music. As always, your comments are welcome.

you may also wish to see
music and telling the long story
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Best Music, 2011

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posted by Kerry Dexter at

12 Comments:

Anonymous Kris @ Attainable Sustainable said...

This is interesting. My son's been doing a lot of song writing and he works so hard to share his true feelings. It's kind of like honest essay writing, set to music, I think.

12:17 AM  
Anonymous Brette said...

This must be why actors practice trust circles. In the same way, they have to trust their audience and the people they perform with.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart said...

The idea of singing alone in public scares the @#$@ out of me. It is indeed a brave act.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Sheryl said...

I can't imagine being a performer. Not only do you have to trust yourself, you have to trust your audience - and that is impossible, since you have no idea how they will react (yet unlike writing, you are seeing their reaction right in front of you...)

5:06 PM  
Anonymous Alexandra said...

Fascinating! Another example of a musician who trusts his fans and is genuine is Bruce Springsteen.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous HeatherL said...

I think trust is a part of every art or else you're that artist or writer who keeps what you've created in a drawer and don't let anyone see it.

9:30 PM  
Anonymous Living Large said...

I think the trust issue is part of any art form. We, as writers, have the same issues. We have to trust our own voice and then trust our editors will like it and then that the audience will buy it. Putting my words into the public eye is scary enough, I don't think I could ever perform though!

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer Margulis said...

“A good song is powerful -- three minutes, and you come out of it and know you see the world a little differently. It’s rearranged your DNA.”

So, so true.

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Jane Boursaw said...

Thinking of the parallels between writing songs and writing words for a living. I'm finally at a place in my writing life where I completely trust my voice and ability to be myself through my words. But it takes a long time, especially when you're writing copy for another site or editor for years. Having my own site and syndication business has made all the difference.

9:33 AM  
Anonymous The Writer's [Inner] Journey said...

I've bookmarked your post. It's wonderful and affirming. Thank you...sometimes a gentle reminder about how trust is "delivered" in various avenues is just what I need when I work.

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Alisa Bowman said...

It's really interesting to see how much alike most of the creative professions are--that fine line between being true to your creativity and being commercial (and the middle way that allows one to have both)

12:41 PM  
Blogger MyKidsEatSquid said...

I interviewed a musician awhile back and he shared similar sentiments--about the connection between the performer and those listening.

2:43 PM  

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