Today might be “the big day” for you. If it is, have you prepared? As it turns out you’re as prepared as you’re going to be, so we can move on.
What’s left to do today, to prepare for “the big day?” Do you know what you’re going to wear, or eat today? Are you going to exercise? Maybe pay some bills or do some laundry? Maybe “the big event” on “the big day” is actually just one part of today. That’s not so scary, is it?
If today isn’t “the big day” for you, what can you do to start preparing now?
Every time you start over from the beginning, every time you play it a little slower, every time you play it just a few more times, you are in the company of the most successful musicians in history.
They aren’t all prodigies. They didn’t sell their soul. They’re the lucky few that were somehow convinced that it’s worth the extra trouble, it’s worth the extra attention, it’s worth the time, to get where they want to go.
What can you do to convince yourself of that? Is it worth a try, just in case?
If each day is representative of our ability and worth as a musician, then we’re probably not very good musicians. We’re going to have a lot of bad days. Days when we don’t practice, don’t practice well, have a bad gig, or just struggle with our musicianship.
Instead, let’s judge our willingness to show up every day, or almost every day. If we do that then we have an opportunity to feel great about what we’re doing, no matter how difficult or slow moving it is. In addition to that, it’s actually a much better measure of what it is we’re trying to be. Musicians are people who play music, so if you play music you’re as much a musician as you’ll ever be, or ever could be.
Once you’re a musician, you get to decide what kind of musician you want to be.
Your job as a musician is not to decide whether or not you are a good musician. Your job is to play music.
To play music today, tomorrow, and for a long time, you have to find a way to enjoy the process of making music.
You’re not going to ignore your mistakes. But they don’t go in the “bad musician” pile, they go in the “things to practice” pile.
So how do you improve as a musician without thinking about whether or not you are “good?” By taking music seriously and not personally.
One reason to consistently do the work is that when opportunity knocks, you will be ready.
I wouldn’t be concerned with the idea that you might not be ready when opportunities come. I would instead consider that opportunity is scarce for those who aren’t doing the work.
We can’t jeopardize our ability and willingness to come back every day to practice and do the work. But sometimes we need to push our limits to make sure we’re doing what we’re really capable of.
Sometimes that means:
-Getting up earlier
-Going to bed later
A Cmaj9 chord is the same as an Eminor7 with C in the bass. G9 is the same as Bminor7b5 with G in the bass.
What are some complex concepts that could be better understood if you broke them down into pieces that make more sense to you?
When you perform, look for the people that are really listening.
You’ve put in the work and are showing up to perform, and they’re showing up ready to listen. These are the people that are going to be giving you real feedback, and it’s usually positive. People who aren’t listening aren’t giving you much to work with so they’re blank expressions shouldn’t mean much to you.
Of course we want to captivate the entire audience, but it’s no small feat to overcome any one person’s apathy.
The people that are listening are who your music is for, and if you serve them well enough they’ll tell their friends that they should be listening too.
When we make a mistake we go back and practice it. When we have a bad gig we prepare more for the next one. But what if we make a lot of mistakes? And what if most of our gigs don’t go well?
Does anything change? Or do we keep returning to do it again? We can try different things, but in the end the only way through it is through it.
Try looking for other paths through it, or new ways to move through it. But if your solution involves going around the thing you love then it becomes giving up. You will never have to give up music. But the reality of music and practice is that you can’t have it all right now.
Don’t spend too much time trying to find the perfect thing to practice. You just need one thing to practice. One thing that you can spend a little bit of time on and make a little bit of progress. Then, after a while, pick something else.
One thing at a time, a little bit of progress at a time. That’s the only way we can do it.