This article is part of the Psychology section.

Introvert or extrovert, that is NOT the question! Leaving aside the extremes of the hermit (who wants to be left alone, always) and the hero (who needs an audience, always), introversion and extraversion are just different styles of communication.

Many fine musicians are quite introverted  – shy, reserved, quiet – in their normal social interactions. Some musicians practice their instruments so much (in their childhood and youth especially) that they miss out on a lot of “play” and social interaction. Playing their instrument becomes an important way of communicating and interacting socially, an emotional outlet, the voice they are most comfortable with to express their feelings (especially in public). Introverts often have a lot of powerful things to say. They have been waiting a long time before saying them, and they don’t waste words. Introverts are often very deep, intense, emotionally-powerful musicians.

Whereas an introvert can perhaps put up with an audience, extroverts actually love an audience. Extroverts have (by definition) a wonderful ease of communication. Their pleasure in communicating and performing is usually contagious and audiences usually love them. Extroverts may prefer faster, brighter, more showy music and may have a tendency to superficiality – where the pursuit of pleasure takes precedence over the search for “meaning”. Perhaps introverts will prefer darker, slower, more intimate, more intense music in the same way that they may also prefer a sincere one-to-one conversation to a large noisy group of people joking and partying. Both styles of music-making are equally valid and important.

We need to keep in mind however that when we try to be what we aren’t, the result is usually unsuccessful. When an extrovert pretends (or tries) to be deep and profound, without really feeling it sincerely, the effect is (profoundly) pathetic. And conversely, when an introvert tries to be a light-hearted joker or showman, the effect can be even worse – much worse – positively tragic even –  rather like a depressive person trying to be a clown, or Basil Fawlty trying to be a charming host !!!! So, we need to find the courage to be “ourselves” – whether that is introverted or extroverted – and to choose our repertoire and performance situations accordingly (whenever possible).

See also  Communication and  Hermit/Hero.