Learning music can multiply your abilities as an actor. Here are two examples from two A-listers of how they have used music in their career. Followed by showing the technique of being good a music and acting are the same.
Johnny Depp Story
The first career that Johnny Depp wanted to have was to be a musician. Actually, to this day, whenever he can have a guitar around he’ll bring it. Depp states that he uses his approach to music to help him in the craft of acting. He approaches a character just like he approaches learning a song. How this works is the following. In order to learn a song, you have to observe and listen to very carefully over and over again. What in the song corresponds to the movement you are going to use on your finger? What is the rhythm of the song? What is the mood of the song? Does the tempo speed up and slow down? How does the song make me feel? What personal connection do I have to the song? If you ask all of these same questions about the character you are playing you will be in pretty good shape. A large part of acting is character study, looking into yourself and looking into what the character is about. Music can help get you there.
Jennifer Lopez Story
Jennifer Lopez came and spoke to my acting class about 6 years ago. Just a refresher but J-Lo is a triple threat of acting, dance, and singing. She told our class that she would never have made it if it hadn’t been for your combination of all three. She told our class very seriously. “If you have any ounce of acting talent, make sure you make the most of it.” By learning music, you expand the number of roles that you can play. Equally, it gets the creative and artistic juices in your mind flowing. That can only be good for you as an actor.
The music process as an acting tool
The same qualities and techniques that make a good musician also make a good actor. Nobody is a naturally good musician, it is your ability to practice, how good you are at that and how much you do it that make you a quality musician. You can’t be a great musician without practice. Take that lesson into your own personal acting training. There are exercises that you can do by yourself (Strasberg sense memory) and there are exercises that you can do with a partner (Meisner’s repetition exercise). But the most important part about learning how to do these practicing techniques is that you are properly trained in how to do them. You can’t learn it from a book, actually doing it on your own is often dangerous because you are likely to do it wrong. So you have to be properly trained to even know how to practice.
How do you get an Academy Award?
The joke for the person looking how to get to Carnegie Hall is “practice, practice, practice.” That is the same way of how to become a great actor. Natural ability is nothing without the ability, willingness, and discipline to practice.