I grew up in an environment where music was revered. My family and the community around me looked up to the music and composers we played. The goal of our music education was to perform for audiences that appreciated the music we studied.
I heard from teachers and other adults about the importance of conveying the emotions of the piece I was learning, but those words fell on immature ears.
I wasn't interested in conveying emotion. I wanted to impress people with my skill. And my peers and siblings felt the same! We nodded politely in lectures about how music allows us to feel emotions and transcend our immediate experiences. But, our true desire was to have people to say "wow!" as they heard and watched us.
I am one of the very few of my family and friends that returned to music after stopping at the end of school. Since then I have shifted my relationship to music. Or, to put it another way, I have changed the role it plays in my life. I’m now more interested in playing with people than playing for people.
After lots of trial and error, I can now use music to complement the social environment that I am in or connect me to the people I’m playing with.
If I could have a 'do-over' on my childhood music education, I wouldn't put so much energy into performing for people and would spend more time playing with people. It took me a while, but I'm glad I figured out a way to play music that takes me past the goal of impressing people and into a world of connecting with people.