Plant A Stake, First


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When I have to prepare a new lesson for one of my numerous guitar students, sometimes I sit down at my desk and I am not quiet sure what I want to do. As my mind goes blank, I know it’s not a bid deal as I understand that this is just a step in a process.

What I do then is write the student’s name and the date at top of the page and go do something else. I do this for 2 reasons. First – writing the name and date allows me to actually start the process, even if it is with a very simple task. Second – it signals my brain that it needs to come up with an answer as to what to do next. This is why I do something else in the meantime. I let my brain spin the wheels and see what it comes up with; sometimes it’s just a clue and sometimes it’s a complete lesson. I always find a solution for what I want the lesson to be about using this process.

Sometimes planting a stake in any of your projects is indeed the first simple, but necessary step to making it a reality.


Right Tools For The Job


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I believe many of us procrastinate on doing something because we know that doing a task at hand will not be a pleasurable experience. There are many layers to this, but sometime it comes down to not having the correct tool for the job.

If you need to shovel snow and your shovel is holding onto its dear life with one screw holding the handle in place, you know that you’ll have a terrible time coming up soon. When you are charging your phone with a cable that has a short in it, you live with constant annoyance … well, it’s not fun. There are many small things that you can improve that can make your day go smoother and, you guessed it, more fun. We still have (and, should) do things that are hard, but having the right tools allow you to conquer the task versus being sidetracked by annoyance.

Now, many people out there are accessorizers. That’s my own term. By that I mean that they can’t seem to do anything unless they have the best and every gadget for everything. They can’t practice guitar unless they have the best pedals, or they can’t throw a basketball around unless they have the right shoes and a new ball. Don’t do that. You just need things that work properly and that make your life more enjoyable. If your days are more fun, then your weeks are better and before you know it, you had a great month. Eventually, you will catch yourself having a better time at life.

Can You Learn How To Play The Guitar In Your 50’s?

I’m going to give you an answer I really stand by – YES! You can learn how to play the guitar in your 50’s, 40’s, 60’s or at any age, really. Your age has nothing to do with learning the instrument; it’s your responsibilities and how crowded your brain is that make learning a new skill challenging.

Younger players have more free time if they choose to get serious about the guitar. Outside of school and perhaps a part-time job, their schedule should be free to pursue anything they choose. They can get better quicker because they have more time to dedicate to practice everyday. For adults, things are little more difficult, perhaps, but I have never met an adult whose fingers were too short or too long, or an adult who wasn’t able to grasp concepts of playing and so on. Adults don’t have as much disposable time as youngsters, but we do have experience in learning which is on our side. I actually strongly recommend learning any new skill throughout your life. If you set your expectations correctly and understand that picking up the guitar takes repeated committment for which you make time for – I say do it.

Don’t Exchange Well Performing Components Of Your Guitar Rig Just Because You “Think” You Should


Some people would consider my approach to my guitar rig pretty interesting. I spent some time, a long while ago, searching for what equipment works for me tone wise and upon being satisfied I have been using the same rig for over 20 years. I seldom, if ever, change anything. Have you heard about guitarists who chase that perfect tone? Yep, that’s not me. I arrived at my sound 2 decades ago. Pretty interesting.

With above said, I am also very picky about guitar and speaker cables that I use. I purchase the best stuff that I feel I can get. Some things you can’t save on and cables are one of them. Just FYI, I have guitar cables in my rig that are close to 20 years old and they still perform flawlessly.

During the recent East Coast shows with my solo band I went against my better judgement and exchanged a cable in my rig to one I thought “should” sound better. Except – it didn’t. If Eric Johnson can tell a difference between an Energizer and a Duracell battery, I can tell a difference between 2 guitar cables. The problem is that while preparing for the shows, I already went through all of the single components of my rig and I solidified which cables I will use for the run.

Sure enough, before a show I started looking at a cheaply made cable plug from a major cable manufacturer. Truth is that particular cable sounded great the night before, but of course I decided to change it to what I perceived to be a better cable and not only the change challenged me mentally while playing, it effected my guitar tone and performance to boot. The old cable, cheaper looking plug or not, sounded better overall.

So, the lesson! Once you have a good reason to decide on something that still works well for you – stick with it. Don’t change components for arbitrary reasons.

Not Every Band Is Meant To Be The Biggest In The World

I often talk to musicians who are stalling in putting their songs or albums out because they don’t think the material will be heard by enough people. Or, they are afraid that upon release they’ll have to take the project to a big time level. Perhaps they think doing something cool is enough, but they feel they’ll be judged by others, for you know, not becoming “successful” with their work.

As a side note, success is relative and personal. If you start a project and stay on course to finish it, that is already a level of success.

But, in regards to the above, it’s a mental trap. The truth is that not every band’s goal is to be the biggest band in the world. There are numerous one or two member groups that put out great music out there through the internet for the sake of being creative. Many of them don’t even play shows.

There is nothing wrong with starting a band to take on the world and become the next Metallica and there is nothing wrong with releasing an EP for the sake of getting the songs out of your head and into the universe. You can set your own goals for success and follow them as much as you care to. Your songs, your band, your life. That’s enough.

Some of my favorite bands never became “big” or mostly went under the radar. There is coolness in being the underdog, too.

Give Advice To Yourself As If You Were Giving It To Your Best Friend

You know what’s funny about us humans? We love to give our best advice to others, but we often think we don’t know what to do for ourselves. But, here’s the thing – we usually do know what to do. You know what you’re doing right, what you need to change or where you’re slacking. Generally, if we get quiet, we can figure that stuff out if we are being honest with ourselves.

Here’s the deal – sometimes you gotta talk to yourself, your own voice might be the most intelligent thing you hear all day. What would you tell your best friend who was facing the same challenge as you are? Ok, great. Now, go follow that advice.

Outlast The Temporary

Sometimes when things don’t go our way, or we have to do something we don’t want to do, it might seem to us, that we are forever doomed. It’s a loss of perspective. When we are stuck in traffic – it feels like it’ll never end. When we have to learn a new skill – it feels like it’ll take a lifetime. When we get a flat tire – it can feel like we’ll never get back on that road again. We know it’s not true, but our mind exaggerates.

I always remind myself that the success is in outlasting the challenge. Most everything we know has an end. All we have to do is to remind ourselves to outlast the temporary thorn and then all will be ok on the other side.

See if that small shift in mindset can work for you!

Are You Ever Too Old To Learn An Instrument?

Here is your answer – No. You’re never too old to learn anything, including a guitar. Applying yourself to learn an instrument has nothing to do with your age, but rather with how much time you have (or, rather allow) to practice. Not everyone will be Eddie Van Halen, but with proper instruction and time put in you can get playing.

Your boss at work, or your customers don’t care if you play the guitar, golf or like to fish. As an adult life brings more challenges, people feel they can’t really commit to playing. 20 minutes every 3rd day is not going to do it, even if you had the talent of Eddie. I have seen some of my younger students get incredibly good at a guitar in rather short period of time. Their advantage was having the focus and time to sit at the guitar and play it for 5 hours plus a day.

I started to play the guitar late, I think at 15-16. Most of my friends were much better than me. Ok, all of my friends were better than me. But, I have put an immense amount of practice during my High School years (Read: no time at the beach, no hanging out, no parties) and most of them were not even in the running by the beginning of my Junior year.

I also mentioned this before, but I never met anyone whose fingers were too short, too long, too stubby to play the guitar. That excuse does not exist.

So, how much time do you need to get some decent playing in? If you can dedicate honest 30-45 minutes 6 days a week, you would have made a great progress in 3 months. This will be enough to play several songs, melodies and most likely even write your own stuff. If playing an instrument is important to you, often times you have to give up on other things to find the time. For adults, it’s a game of priorities and time management and figuring out what’s important.

I also believe that we should all carve out at least 1 hour every day to do the stuff we love to do. It’s necessary. Otherwise, life becomes a boring box you live it.

Write Tasks Down

You know that feeling where you have so much going on that you don’t know where to put your hands first? Yeah, we all do.

I find it very useful to get stuff out of my head and onto a paper. Want to get some things done over the weekend? Write them out on Friday. For whatever reason, when we see things written down, our brains assume them important and less breakable. This just steers your mind into a direction we need. In an odd way, you don’t even need to go over your “list” over the weekend, just the process of writing things you want to do makes them so much more probable to get done.

Side note about stuff “written in”. Did you ever buy a car and a dealer takes out the purchase agreement and you see a “Document and Paperwork Fee” already printed onto the document? This happens for a reason. Buyers are less likely to argue something that is already in print. Dealer fee is a way for the company to pay for the clerks in the back that are an expense for them. Clerks do not sell, but someone has to file stuff, so you guessed it – you are asked to pay for it. This is also one of the reasons why contractors like to give you quotes in writing and not verbally – you’re less likely to negotiate. That is, if you are not privy to the info above.

Write it down.

Your Heroes Don’t Have All The Answers

They don’t. While the people we look-up to, or even idolize, might have found a way to become admirable at a task be it sports, music, photography, engineering, design, teaching, sales and so on, remember that in order to become exceptionally world-class good at something, we often in the process give up on developing other important parts of life. This varies of course from person to person. The people you admire don’t always have all the answers. This is why I sometimes find it interesting that general public expects sports stars, as an example, to be all around role models. Many genuinely are, and for a good reason. But, careful with your expectations. It takes a certain personality to give up literally everything in order to achieve a task that most only dream of. I’ve met several successful people in their various chosen professions who couldn’t inflate a tire or hold a half-decent conversation. I am not not faulting you, me or anyone else – we are all work in progress. Just take above into consideration.