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Tip #1 – Killing The Seeds of Practice!
Impatience and lack of persistence are 2 of the BIGGEST reasons that we tend to not stay on target and find the improvement that we look for in our playing and performance. Impatience in my viewpoint is probably THE #1 thing that knocks us off course… I say this because I am a persistent person but patience has been something I’ve REALLY had to work on in life!
I’m going to share a story with you about impatience and I believe if you read it, you’ll see that most things we don’t want to happen lead back to impatience in one form or another.
The year is 1848 in the small farming community of Hubbard, Iowa. A shop keeper was getting tired of being in his store year round day in and day out, and noticed that the farmers would be in town quite often… he was an impatient person and usually wasn’t one to investigate things before leaping in. Being very impulsive he would spend more time doing and less time thinking and decided that he was going to sell his store, buy a small plot of land and plant corn. Being the impatient person he was, he sold his store for a loss, bought the plot of land and went to work tilling the soil while the other farmers were still doing nothing. Convinced that he was going to have the first bumper crop before everyone else, he plants early while the ground is still cold.
He worked tirelessly for weeks tilling the soil, planting seeds and feeling confident that he was going to finally make his mark! After he completed his planting he decided to head into town… he noticed that no other farmers were there. Proud as a peacock he strutted around town while everyone else was working.
In the coming days, he started to notice that other farmers’ sprouts were starting to break ground while his field had nothing to show for. He was extremely frustrated because of all the work he had put in and yet nothing – no results! Convinced that the seeds that he had purchased from his former store were bad, he storms into the store and begins to yell at the new store keeper. The store keeper, who was once a farmer, proceeded to explain to him that he had planted too early… if the ground temperature is below 60 degrees, the seeds will not germinate in the normal 10 to 14 days. Again, not being a strong listener, the former shop keep storms out, heads home and decides he’s going to uproot the bad seeds and start again.
Fueled by anger and frustration he begins to tear up all that hard work he had put in just a couple of weeks ago, failing to see that the seeds were starting to take root and were just days away from breaking the surface. But now, due to his impatience, the seedlings are destroyed. So while he is back in the fields tilling, planting and working himself silly, the other farmers are now monitoring the growth of their efforts.
Practicing is much this same thing… we go in with the intention of working on a new skill, but when we don’t see the results in the amount of time that we “think” it should take, we get impatient. The gestation period for corn from planting to harvest is roughly 73 days… a human baby requires 281 days… but a new skill or an idea has its own gestation period that varies from person to person and skill to skill!
Tip #2 – The Music “Business!”
This tip is meant to help stop the perpetuation of the myth that “THE MUSIC BUSINESS IS VERY TOUGH!” Truth be told, the music business is no tougher than any other business venture and requires the very same things as if you had opened a brick and mortar business selling items. After spending years running from the music business because of this very belief, and then jumping into the business and having to learn what it takes to be successful it really comes down to treating your business like a business!
Here are a few things that I see musicians do (not do) that keeps them in struggle mode with the Music Business.
1) Drinking on the gig / drug issues.
If you go to a desk job or a retail sales job and drink alcohol or do drugs on your breaks (or while you’re working) chances are you won’t be employed for very long. So what makes you think that performing and drinking is any different?
2) Not returning phone calls, emails, texts in a timely fashion!
IF you’re a freelance musician, your pipeline to work is to be able to answer your messages in a timely manner. If I call someone for a date and I don’t hear back from them in a few hours (or at all) the chances of me calling them again become slim! You can quickly get knocked off of someones call list by being unreliable.
3) Showing up late / unprepared!
My viewpoint is that if you are “on time” to a show, you’re late! My arrival time for a show is typically an hour before the start time. It gives me an opportunity to set up, check microphones (if needed), and complete my warm up. I find that I am more settled in than if I were to just show up minutes before down beat!
4) Marketing Yourself / Your Band
Most musicians are unwilling to do any marketing and would rather leave it up to “someone else.” When you’re just starting out, starting a new band, etc. no one knows who you / the band is. It requires leg work… getting out and talking to club owners, booking agents, etc. And presenting yourself in a professional manner!
5) The Illusive “Making It”
This is the illusion for most that scares them the most. When I hear someone say “it’s tough to make it in the music business,” I ask them to define what “making it” is… most answers involve “getting rich” or “never having to worry” about this that or the other. You’ll “make it” as much or as little as you’re willing to put into it!
6) Be Nice / Be Marketable!
This is a big one! I see a lot of new freshman in college come in that were pretty good in high school and feel that it will be easy to play for a living. They have NO REAL CLUE as to what it takes. Maintaining the same high school practice habits will not help you succeed in the college environment and it most CERTAINLY will not allow you to succeed in the business world! You have to be GREAT at your craft, you have to be marketable as a player / product and you have to be a nice person that people like to work with!
If you are mediocre at playing, other musicians will most likely not want to play with you. Improving your skills continuously is mandatory! Imagine going into a car dealer to look at a new car… the sales person that approaches you doesn’t know very much and demonstrates this by contradicting himself at nearly every turn. You most likely will lose faith in that person, product and business and won’t want to do business with them! Now, because that sales person was not knowledgeable and clearly showed his ignorance you may have even lost faith in the dealership that he works for. These days, it’s easier to just drive to the next dealership and look at competitive brands…
If you’re a great player but a TOTAL jerk of a human being, it probably won’t matter how great you are… being tough to work with / be around will typically leave you with not much work!
Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.
– Joseph Addison – 1672-1719 Writer
We will be taking a break from Weekly Tips next week… We’re wishing EVERYONE a joyous Holiday Season and a wonderful 2015!