IMG_9431-150x150Justin Poon is a sixth-semester student at Berklee studying performance and electronic production and design. As a founding member of Affiliated Gallery, a creative design group based in Toronto, Justin is involved in film scoring and sound design. He is also involved in producing for singers and hip-hop artists wherever he can find them.

As young students of this timeless craft we are often confronted by questions and challenges that strongly define the way you view music, your artistry, and your role in the industry/universe. There is this sort of paradox between the need for ego and the loss of ego that is required in making sense or having more clarity. One must have confidence and drive, knowing they have the ability to transcend the listener to another dimension, while at the same time performing with no hesitation and no ego. The musician must find the balance between the endless regulation and theory behind the art, and leaving all of that behind and just making the sounds they’d like to hear. We draw our own line between assuming a role of a selfless individual, defining the music or being a commoner, creating the overall texture with the band.

Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object; and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.” – Bruce Lee

I have seen all too many of my peers and friends lose inspiration or become distraught over things like the state of a given industry or not personally fulfilling a certain expectation. Being at Berklee, I am very blessed to get to meet many different people, and learn from their successes and mistakes. Until recently I had not completely realized that at this school there is a huge range of ambition and that everybody has a different idea of success as well as what their role in the music industry is.

Competition, recognition, or financial success are examples of what can often misguide one’s vision. Is a musician who gets fewer gigs than another musician necessarily lesser talent? Is money the gauge of a successful musician? What about theoretical musical knowledge? When a majority of musicians that are beyond financially comfortable hardly have their theory down pat, doesn’t that mean talent can never even be taught in a book or classroom? Is a musician of whom I have the utmost respect and undying loyalty towards representative of the objective good? Is there objectivity in music? Most important of all, what am I missing in my musicianship? I myself have lost enough hours of sleep thinking about these things, after all, this is what I chose to do with my life and the little time I have on this planet.

A trait that I find in almost all of my musical heroes entails taking a humble and zen-like approach to living, while always hungering for more, and to embrace the idea of infinity and timelessness rather than be fearful of it. One of my biggest mantras as of very late is to think of the infinity and endless possibilities, in all aspects of life; living life with no ego, hesitation or expectation, thinking of infinite possibilities rather than purely living reactive, through the expectations and circumstances of the other. I hold high esteem for meta-cognition, or the science of the thinking process. In my belief, applications in every field are applicable to one another. For example, the principles of the ancient book Art of War have been applied to more than just warfare, such as career building, sales, business, and self-defense. Those who know me well know that it’s no secret I love the war-strategy game Starcaft. I am always using principles in music and life, to better myself in that game, and vice versa.

“Treading slowly toward the peak of the mountain, though few are near the summit, though those who learn to enjoy the climb, endure to rank among them.” – Neuro

That is the beauty of this almost capitalistic way of thinking of knowledge and talent. Improving what and how you do things is a journey, never arriving at the destination because it always changes. Perhaps we’re always on the proverbial V chord, using deception and anticipation to enrich our journey to the I chord, which once we’ve arrived we cannot wait to leave again anyway.

Justin Poon