Posted by: Marie | September 24, 2010

(408) Innate knowing

Post #408
[Private journal entry written on Tuesday, April 6, 2010]

As I teach students to compose music, I present ideas to them in a very structured, layered way. However, some of my students shoot through my neat layers and jump right into the middle of composing whatever sounds good to their ears. I have learned to just go with the flow . . . I allow them to do what they do, then we go back and talk about why it sounds good to them (reverse engineering).

The 12-year-old gal who loves jazz is one who ignores all my attempts at maintaining orderly structure in the learning process. She just “goes for it”. And, I follow. When she gets a passage to sound good, we talk about its architecture so she can recreate it in future compositions.

She is coming to life . . . she is finally getting excited about playing the piano. That makes it fun for me. She loves to compose.

Photo by Martin Chen

Today, she had two separate passages of music she wanted to join together. However, the placement of the two raw ends together created this jarring fissure.

In my mind, I “see” music . . . and, I could “see” the two raw ends . . . I could “see” the need for a bridge.

Nothing I have ever read about music theory (I’m totally self-taught) has educated me on how to build this particular bridge. So, I just turned the matter over to my creative self . . . and, instantly, I knew how to link the two parts by repeating the rhythm and note pattern of the first part’s ending in the context of the chord underlying the second part’s beginning, with a few transitional notes in between.

In my mind’s ear, I could hear it as clear as day. I played it for her and she loved it.

So . . . from where did that bit of genius come?

Tonight, as I’m reflecting back on the lesson, I can only say that creations such as that must come from a higher power. I’ve only started composing my own music (I have a couple lines of one piece completed). So, I have almost no practical experience. I only have a little bit of theory gleaned from the few books I’ve read . . .

And, yet, I seem to have this innate “knowing” about how to create music.

For this innate “knowing,” I am most grateful. It is an awesome gift – it brings me true joy.

Thank you, Divine Source, whomever you are.


  1. This is a very nice post. I admire those of you who can create beautiful music–sounds that resonate with emotion. While I am not musically inclined, this helps me to remember the things I AM good at. Thanks for the nudge in the right direction.

    • Hi, Becca –

      We do all have things we are good at doing . . . I’m glad you are remembering to appreciate your gifts! Thanks for stopping by!

      – Marie

  2. It’s fascinating isn’t it. All I can say is that the ‘inspiration from elsewhere’ comes as we engage with our medium at the time.

    It doesn’t seem to come if we don’t care – though care can involve a sense of detachment.

    • Hey, Evan –

      I have heard that genius is simply God flowing through people. It makes sense to me.

      – Marie

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