When You Start Something, Early Motivation Is Easy

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When you pick up a new hobby, start an exercise program or begin anything that is new, the early stage of motivation is built in. After all, there was “something” that made you want to start something new. It’s the honeymoon and you are excited. This period works for a few days, a week, couple of weeks, perhaps even longer and then it cools off. And, then it gets harder to progress.

This is where most people quit.

This is where most people start another project, another idea, or buy another guitar instructional program.

You have to realize that where most fail is the exact moment that you have to continue the daily progress to get better.

So what is the right thing to do when you start to lose interest in whatever you started to do? Foremost, you have to understand that unless you find a way to continue chieseling away day after day consistenly, you will never achieve great results in anything. Secondly, go back to why you wanted to start the new project in the first place. There had to be a reason for it. Did you buy a new guitar book because you wanted to be better, polish up your technique and be happier? As a side note, most of the things we do in life is beacuse at the end of it all we want happiness. And if that was your starting reason, don’t you still want that today? If so, then you simply have to tell the quitting voice to sit down. You continue to work. By doing this, you will see that your confidence in yourself will rise and it becomes easier and easier to stay on task in whatever you are doing.

Your Friends Won’t Give You A Record Deal

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An interesting occurence happens in the music business. And, I am sure this applies to several other industries as well. I see many younger musicians trying to befriend and “get in” with anyone in the music business that they think can help them further their career. For the sake of clarity, it’s awesome to be genuinely friendly with people. It’s good for everyone around and true friends you can usually count on one hand, if you’re lucky. But, it is not awesome when being friends with someone is used as a means so you might get somewhere further.

It is important to remember that no one will give you a record deal or put you on the radio, or get you a gig simply because you are supposed to be some sort of friends. Reason is that you need to have something to offer first – a reason why you should be awared such thing. Friendship is not enough. As a matter of fact, I’d be much more interested in working on something that someone might want, see value in and want first and foremost. Then opportunities will come whether you are friends with someone in position to help you, or not. When people want something you provide, you’ll know.

Above is a simple advice, or observation. I write about it today because I see this scenario play out all the time.

Punctuality For Musicians

I recently read an article about punctuality and how a lack off has disbanded a cool Heavy Metal band. I just want to give you guys another reminder that being punctual is step-one to a successful functoning band, or organization. It is impossible to schedule your day successfully if you can not keep time. Being late also ruins others’ plans. The only people that will tolerate it in others, or amazingly enough sometimes even not, are other people who are never on time themselves. Truth is people are busy, they have things to do, and people with agendas have no time to sit around while twimbling their thumbs waiting for other musicians to show up.

If you are committed to a band, or task, this also goes to promp e-mail, text replies, etc.

The best way to work your time management on-point is work it backwards. By that, I mean you start with the arrival time that you need to be somewhere and deduct how long it will take you to get there. Then you add 15 minutes to travel for “un-usual” stuff that comes such as traffic, road work, flat tires.

Additional step, which is very overlooked and important, is to also give yourself time before your travel to get your “stuff” together. Need your guitar, cables, directions, coffee? Build whatever time you need to prep these things to go, or get them done the night before. What I often see is players knowing they got to be somewhere at 3’clock and they just rush like hell collecting their gear and hauling to the location in panic. Don’t do that. You crate a frenzy and when you show up, you bring a scattered energy to the people who are waiting for you. Don’t be that person.

Is every mega-rockstar super punctual? Suprising to you, most are! Some are not, but when we both sell gazillion records and employ 120 people, then you and I can rethink it then. Untill that time – know what’s important!

$3 Part That Threatened Life

My dad used to own a 16 foot long Tracker boat. Tracker is a company that makes pretty cool fishing boats. The Tracker was his pride and joy.

One day, while going for a boat ride/fishing trip we put the boat onto the water from a trailer. As the trailer dropped off the boat in the water, I noticed that the boat was floating a little too low above the water line. My dad shrugged it off and said all bass boats flow low. Okay, good enough. Or, so I thought.

As we take the boat out to the lake through the crates in the bottom of the floor I see a puddle of water creeping in. Then the realization – we got water all the way up underneath the boat! I tell my dad that we got water and he screams – Oh, shit, I forgot to put the cork in! So, I’m thinking to myself that a $3 dollar part can have us swim for our life if the boat submerges.

The story turned out ok as we just sprinted using the motor back to the shore, but you bet the boat was filled with water. Close call! And, my uncle’s phone fell into the lake while he jumped out trying to tie us onto something safe by the dropping dock.

Upon getting all the water out, my dad put the cork in and we went out onto the lake later that day. I never felt at ease in that boat ever again. Truth is, it was never the boat’s fault, but someone forgetting a small detail. What a lesson! Needless to say, this story lived with us in our family for a long time, lol.

How does this story relate? It’s in the small details! It is easy to get the big picture, while forgetting all the intricate small parts that are a part of it. This is the same as the guitarist who sets up his rig for a show and has a dead battery in the tuner and no spare. Or a pedal board that uses $250 guitar pedals that are connected with cheap connector patches that destroy the sound of the guitar rig. Examples are countless. You often see a local band that plays live and the banner is 3 feet wide with the corners are folding in. Or, how about the time when you car battery dies and you realize you have no jumping cable. It’s the small parts in big movements that destroy the goal – no matter how big the goal is. Remember the details.

It Took Me 11 Years To Edge Lawn Perfectly

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I do most of the landscaping on my property myself due a few reasons. One – I enjoy the exercise, two – I get a sense of satisfaction when the lawn, shurbs and plants look great and three, I got tired very fast of fixing someone else’s poor landcaping jobs.

But, one item that gave me a lot of trouble was using a line edger to cut perfectly straight lines in the mulch and flower beds. My work never quiete looked great. It looked amateurish for a long time. Through error and just simply doing it week after week for 11 years, I can edge the lawn in perfect lines. Not a week, a month or a year. 11 years!

You get a sense of flow and know how when you repeat a task for over a decade while trying to improve the task each time. At this time I can out-edge most “pro” landcapers I see driving around.

I decided to share that because it can provide a good lesson to music students. You won’t learn to play the instrument or learn a challenging riff, or a song in a day. To perfect something it took me 11 years of once every two week action. Remember that.

Why Your Ego Is Stopping You From Learning The Guitar

Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Badly. It is, my friends. In other words, we have to be willing to suck in the beginning if we are going to progress to the level of mastering something. Many people are not willing to be novices anymore. Young kids? Yes, they are kind of OK with that, because they are leaning new things all the time. They are young, lots of stuff is new. Early on in their life they are used to not being good at things. And, this is why they will bang on the guitar for months until it sounds good more often then not. Eventually, trough trail and error, they get the sound they want.

Now, adults are a different animal. Adults have done things, have seen things and they often expect that new things they learn to also come easy. They are afraid of getting their ego bruised if they suck. Not being good at anything first is actually step 1 on the journey to getting something right. You keep going. Just as a parent who does not give up on their child when they are learning to walk, you also try again. I have never seen anyone who could not play good basic guitar. I have never seen anyone whose fingers were too short, too long, too stubby, too whatever. And, I taught 1000s of people. Parents encourage their children to practice walking versus giving up because the first few steps were shaky.

So, remember, if something is hard to get right, that is a very necessary step to go through. I also call that success tax.

Choosing New Instrument Missions In The New Year

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And, we are in 2021. What’s in a New Year? After all, our days continue, but the numbers on the calendar change. Exactly right. It is a reminder that 2020 is done, over with, good bye. It is time to pack up your green holiday stuff around the house, put in the basement or attic, and get your action right for 2021.

I prepared a little exercise for you. This is important. And, I really suggest you check it out.

I want you guys to get a single blank piece of paper, get a marker or a pen and write down 4 things you want to get done with your guitar playing this year. Of course, this can apply to any instrument. Be realistic. Give me items that contain a little stretch where it will take work, but ones that will give you a chance to accomplish them. I’ll give you a hint, for guitarists, one of them should be mastering notes on the fretboard. Then, what else? Write a song and put it on Spotify? Jam with a drummer at least 4 times? Learn all the Randy Rhoads modes so you can play them in your sleep?

And, lastly I want you to write down 3 things (or, a sentence) as to why you started to play the guitar in the first place? Was it because it made you feel good? Was it because it gave you a sense of doing something cool, or important with your time? Was it because you were able to find friends and others who “got” what you were about? There definitely are reasons as to why you strarted playing. What are they?

It is important to realign with your original mission as to why you started playing the instrument in the first place. Maybe you are doing it still doing it for the same reasons, or maybe the reasons have changed or drifted away? If you started to play as a way to relax after a long day at work and you still enjoy playing the guitar every night for a half hour, then maybe, you are still accomplishing your original goals. New licks will always challenge you, but knowing that you are doing what you originally set out to do will put things in perspective. And, probably enable you to learn new licks and techniques easier, too. There are many other benefits to doing this exercise.

And, yep, I do the same thing as well. I have a white board in my office where I plan out stuff. It really helps.

Go, Meet Your Heroes

To all of my musician students (especially the truly serious ones) I always recommend reading autobiographies of musicians they like. It is actually not for the reason of sole entertainment. It’s fun to read about someone’s what appears to be exciting life, but reading an autobiography just for that would be missing an important point.

I recommend reading them because life as a serious musician can feel very lonely at times. And, I want my students to know that the path they are on has been travelled many times before by others. I want them to know that although the path of a musician is one out of the ordinary, it is one that is taken on by other people, too. This is important.

I met very few truly serious musicians in my years of teaching. I am talking about ones that want to go for whatever their dream with music is. And, these players usually walk to the beat of their own drum and I know that they feel a little different than some of their musician friends. When you are serious about something, it is a whole other thing. It’s a whole new level of obsession. You kind of need some help from others, but this help can be hard to find. This is why reading is important to know that others found answers and found a way on the same road why students are on.

In short – you won’t feel so alone in your travels.

Expanding By Eliminating

The idea I want to present to you today is the ability to take a deep dive into a subject by eliminating many outside possibilities.

Let’s take a look at playing the guitar, for example. A long while ago, I made the decision to become a specialist in playing the music that I love, which is Heavy Metal. In truth, it was not much of a “choice” really since Metal really grabs the most of my interest. But as a musician, as you grow, you do hear other things and become interested in other styles of music. For me, I always liked the way classical guitar sounded (Thank you, Randy Rhoads), but I realized that if I devoted the necessary time it took to become very proficient at classical guitar, my main goal of playing Heavy Metal would suffer. I decided to expand my ability as a Metal guitarist by eliminating choices that did not lead to the ultimate goal. Yes, even if it was hard to do.

I see this play out a lot in musicians. Many musicians I know want to get good at everything. They want to play a lot of styles and be genuine in each one. Even these days, through teaching many young players, I see a person play as many as several instruments. I mean, sure, it’s wonderful. You learn new things, you develop, etc. But, it’s crowded out there. I believe in order to become a specialist at something you have to 1) devote most, if not all, of your time to become proficient at that one thing and be known for it. 2) you have to understand that it is “ok” not to excel at everything. Believe me, you are still a very valuable person. 3) you have to understand that it is better to do one thing at 99%, than 9 at 40%.

In some way, people feel that they are missing something, or that they do not add up to something, unless they do and know about everything. If you are one of those people torturing yourself, it is “ok” not to be that way and just follow where your true heart leads.

One last point. I am not asking anyone to completely disregard, hate on or never look outside their chosen deep dive. Just know that you’ll have to forgo many B choices and ideas in order to excel at your chosen path.

Why Bother?

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I am hoping to provide a quick answer to a short, but long winded question. In the age of the internet it seems that well playing musicians pop-up every 2 minutes, new songs get released all the time, new albums arrive daily. Why bother? Why would you bother to play, to record or to release your own music? It’s so congested out there with so many people doing “this” already.

The answer is this: What you have is special and unique. No one in the world can do exactly what it is that you do. There is only 1 of you in the sea of human life on earth. With that in mind, anything you do will be unique and special and this is “why” it’s worth doing it.

I have seen several guitar players play throught the same exact amp set-up and they all sounded different. I have heard guitar players play the same riff and they all sounded different. You can copy, but you can’t exactly reproduce another human being.

What is important to know is that you doing “it” is the most important task at hand. Likes, video forwards and the like are nice and are all a nod from people getting something out of what you did. But, that is not the point of doing anything. If you do it for doing “it” because what you have to offer is unique and can offer something to others to boot, then that is all of the reason you need.