Jurassic Park is an amazing movie. I don’t think anybody would question this statement. To be clear, I’m talking about the original movie from 1993. The rest of the franchise is up for debate. I can clearly remember seeing dinosaurs for the first time and thinking they were enormous, majestic creatures. I was captivated to the point of collecting my jaw off the floor and having to relearn how to blink.
I was only 8 when Jurassic Park came out, so you can imagine that I had nightmares about the T-Rex and the Raptors. Aside from those two species, I was obsessed...so much that my Mother took me to a dinosaur exhibit at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. I played with my little toy dinosaurs the whole way from Baltimore down to Washington in the backseat of the car. Mom told me there would be life-size dinosaurs waiting for us! What could be more exciting? Sure enough, the exhibit had a collection of full-sized animatronic dinosaurs. They created a walk-through maze that showcased each species in their natural environment. I felt like I was in Jurassic Park.
As a small child, my imagination erased the bathroom and exit signs. It removed the parking lots, cars, ticket windows, and guard rails. In my mind, I was there, in the land of the dinosaurs. Most of me was thrilled, but lurking in the back of my mind was the realization that if all of these species were here, there must be a T-Rex. That fear grew fast. By the time I reached the T-Rex, I was holding onto Mom’s leg and crying. I wouldn’t move an inch further. It was the end of the line for me. I remember Mom trying to talk me through everything, pointing out the other people, the exit signs, the bathroom, and reminding me that we were simply in a museum. It didn’t matter. The fear was real. The T-Rex was real. And I was done. Mom had to get me out. She had to rescue me from the T-Rex.
The T-Rex was not real, but the fear certainly was. The same imagination that found dinosaurs to be mesmerizing also created that fear. I was so young that I could not prevent the fear from taking root and souring our day at the museum. We all have scenarios similar to this, as children and as adults. We all yield a powerful weapon, a versatile tool. That is our imagination.
Our imaginations are an incredible, limitless force. They can create and destroy. They can open and close doors. They can inspire hope and cultivate fear. We can use our imaginations, or they can use us. With imagination, we can anything we want to be. There are no lines to color inside of. As we grow older, we must learn to use our imagination as a tool.
Our musical instruments are an extension of this tool. Think of your instrument as the vehicle and your imagination as the driver. Your imagination creates the fuel that powers the vehicle, and that becomes your motivation as an artist. Our imaginations could take us to the edge of the stage at Madison Square Garden, but if we let fear take over, they could prevent us from believing in ourselves at all or ever getting our dreams off the ground. The imagination is truly that powerful.
Let’s all be mindful of this power. Music instructors are more than technicians working on your vehicle. They are there to be mentors, travel guides, and adventure experts. In each lesson, they are uncovering a bit more about your abilities, tapping into that super power, and taking it for a test drive. Whether a music student becomes a musician is besides the point. Success to us is seeing a student whose imagination fuels their belief and whose belief shapes their world for the better.