CHAMPIONS wanted: the unkind and ill-humoured need not apply.
Everybody needs a Champion; someone who is totally on your side, no matter how crazy you are, the mood you’re in or how badly you burnt your pie. Your Champion supports you through the bad days (hair or otherwise) and celebrates the good days (salad or otherwise) with patience, grace, wisdom and good humour.
My ultimate Champion is a perfect blend of Mary Poppins and the Terminator (the good Arnie, not the bad Arnie and definitely not the scary T-1000). My Champion (let’s call her The Poppin-ator) would smash anyone who tried to hurt me AND have a bottomless bag of tricks and songs to make everything better. Alas, Poppin-ators are hard to find, but I have had many people who have taken on her characteristics from time to time, which has been incredibly useful, nay, instrumental in my musical life to date. These people have been there when I have been uncertain or nervous or disheartened and have said things like “You can do it!” or “I love what you do!” and “What you’re doing is really worthwhile”. They have listened to me moan about how hard it all is and then have said one little thing that has sparked a new idea or supplied more energy to a project.
It is worth noting that sometimes it isn’t what your Champion says, but what they don’t say that makes them so champion-esque. They never say things like “Well. That sucked.” or “Maybe you should have rehearsed for another year or so before you shared that disaster” or “You know, you’re just never going to be great, so what’s the point?”
Your Champions don’t care if you suck on stage, they don’t care if you can only play 3 chords on the guitar, they don’t care if you sing out of tune when you’re nervous. They don’t care about those things because they know that you are learning and you are getting better, a bit at a time. They care about you and that you are doing something you love and that you are working at it. They might offer advice, but it is careful, considered and constructive and it very rarely hurts.
The Poppin-ators in creative circles have a nemesis: the Challenger. In effect the Challenger is a dastardly cross between Voldemort and Cruella DeVille (ahh…VolDeVille?) but in reality our Challengers are usually well-meaning people who we love but who don’t have a clue how to support us. Unfortunately, our worst Challenger is often ourselves (read Bully Vs Wise). Our Challengers say things like “Shut Up! Your music hurts my ears!” or “Can you please not sing this song? It kind of ruins it for me”. They might point our all your weaknesses, with no real help or guidance to fix them. It might not be what they say but what they don’t say or don’t do: they never come to see you play or they never say how awesome you are (but of course they harp on about the natural talents of someone else). It’s often not their fault they have such a negative impact on your creativity (they are usually judging themselves more harshly than they’re judging you), but all the same, they are musical poison. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT share your music with these people if you are even a little sensitive to their opinions because they don’t get it and they won’t get it. It sucks for them, because they miss out on your awesomeness, but whatever. What they have to say is not useful and will only hinder your development, not help it. Unfortunately sometimes these people make their way into the teaching profession (read Music Teachers Can Suck Too). Avoid them if you can.
The thing is, we all need a Champion, but we often forget that we can be one for someone else. We can be supportive, we can rock up and pay attention to others on stage, we can say nice, meaningful things about people’s musical or creative development, we can offer insightful, kind and constructive ideas for improvement (if they want that kind of thing). We can try and not be a Challenger (to ourselves or others) by being wary of judgmental thinking that doesn’t offer ideas for improvement. So, repeat these lines after me: I’LL BE BACK… With a spoonful of sugar.
PS. If you really, really can’t find a Champion, go along to a Melting Pot Open Mic night: there are so many Champions there! Or if you can’t make Monday nights, there’s a Musician’s Accomplice somewhere in this town who like, totally digs being a Champion for the Champion-less.
The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the views of Melting Pot.
Author DetailsMelissa Main
Where cabaret sidles up to folk, acoustic sneaks a kiss from plugged-in sounds and clever lyrics dance over a landscape of solidly tasty melody lives Melissa Main and her original music. Also in trio or with her band, her songs are witty, interesting, touching and funny.