Music can inspire anyone to want to play an instrument, but not everyone chooses to act upon the inspiration, or to create their own unique sound. One artist who has inspired many girls, especially in this generation, is Taylor Swift. Many girls of all ages, myself included, are guilty of covering one of Taylor Swift’s songs, even if it was just for 15 seconds. Something Taylor Swift was doing was striking a chord with girls all around the country and world.
Was it the relatability of the songs of heartbreak and wanting to be liked? Was it how she transitioned from the genre of country to the genre of pop while blurring the lines of genres for many who saw it set in stone? Or was it simply because girls wanted to be like Taylor Swift- beautiful, full of life and adventure, and living what looked like an incredible life?
As a young girl, I too was guilty of playing Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” and “White Horse” on the piano in my room. I was inspired to recreate what she had already produced simply because I liked the song and I hoped for my own “Love Story” to look like what was expressing through her lyrics. I liked what I was hearing, and I started to have the desire to make something that was similar in sound. This began to pique my interest in music as a whole, to where I eventually picked up the guitar in the 7th grade. I was influenced by many artists while growing up in a music filled home, which caused me to want to be able to play an instrument because that was the “cool” thing to do.
Often times, Taylor Swift was criticized because it seemed that all she was releasing were songs about her bad ex-boyfriends. But, many girls saw this as a way they too could express themselves and get rid of the stress and anger from a bad boyfriend, while writing a bridge about how their next one would be far better than the last. What girl hasn’t written a song about that guy who didn’t really care? Even if it wasn’t true! Many girls write about similar situations because we go through similar trials. One major obstacle that arises within us that has the ability to wear and tear at our craft as musicians is comparison. Comparison is the act of measuring the similarity or dissimilarity between two things. This is something we are all guilty of, and is something that is harmful to ourselves and to others, which can quickly get in the way of our musical efforts.
As we look at others like Taylor Swift we see musicians we aspire to be like. Taylor has written songs that many relate to, she is very talented, and in the worlds eye, one of the most beautiful 27 year olds in the music industry. These all took time for her to achieve, but our flesh will always want to forget about the work it took and jump to the self-accusation of “Why am I not like her? … Why can’t I write a hit song? … Why can’t I have authority on stage like that? … Why am I not supported like her? … Why does my social media not have a following yet?” These are a few of the many questions that can flood the mind of young musicians when we look to others to see what we have, or do not have, and how we measure up to someone else’s success.
Something important that we all need to be reminded of everyday is that someone else’s success has absolutely nothing to do with the lack of our own. This comparison that we bring upon ourselves by constantly looking at the media and seeing successful stars on tour, or even our own social media where our friends are posting covers of songs and getting more views than the original song we have posted, is not healthy. Doing this beats on our minds and hearts and yells, “You are not good enough and the music you create is not worth being heard.” This is a lie that many believe. This lie allows our inspiration to become re-creation. That is, re-creation of music that is already being produced. Although there is nothing wrong with this, your voice and your lyrics are worth being heard and you do not need to believe the opposite. Let what inspires you continue to inspire you to create something of your own- something that is wonderfully made, something that reflects who you are. As comparison continues to creep into your mind, fight back with the truth of how powerful your own music and ideas are. Believe in what you create and run with it – maybe one day you will be the one inspiring others.