The One Thing That Makes Music Great

Have you ever wondered if there was one thing that tied all great music together? Maybe you thought that if there was only one concept you could understand about music that would make you a great musician. Well I am here to tell you that there is something that ties all great music. All styles of music contain this element. All great artists have this technique down. You can easily learn this and apply it to your own music and see great results.

All music contains the element of energy. Its kind of like spunk or excitement. All great artists deliver their music with a sort of energy that makes us connect to them. The musicians that lack this element are usually brushed off as not being very good. Would you want to listen to an hours worth of music by an artist that sounds like melting ice cream? NO!

Try this exercise. Sit down with music that you enjoy and listen to each musician individually. Listen to the singer. Do they sound like they have energy? Spunk? Excitement? Do they move you? Do this to the drummer, guitarist, bassist and anyone else.

This is a simple thing, but it is extremely important. This doesn’t mean you should neglect learning more knowledge and techniques, but everything you know will sound ten times better if it contains energy. Give it a shot!

 

The Easiest Way to understand music theory

Written Music

Written Music

Music theory is usually one of the most difficult topics for people to learn. Today you will understand the easiest way to break down music theory to understand it the best way. It is easier than you think! There are only 4 categories in music theory. The first step is to identify which of these categories the theory you are learning belongs to.

 

  • Terminology

This might be the most difficult thing new musicians get confused by in theory. There are so many new words, many of which are not even English. If you identify what you are learning is a new word, it applies to this category. Terminology is used in all the following categories as well.

 

  • Chord theory

This category includes anything with more than 1 note played at a time.

 

  • Note Theory

This means anything that uses 1 note at a time.

 

  • Rhythm

This does not involve notes at all, but this is the study of time. Music takes place over a period of time. Rhythm is the study of how time is manipulated with patterns.

 

Each category can be explored to very deep levels, but it does not need to be confusing. Understanding how things work is not rocket science. People often make this more complicated than it needs to be.

The 10 Thousand Hour Rule

Guy Playing Guitar

A very popular theory brought up when talking about learning a new skill is the ten thousand hour rule. It states that for someone to reach mastery of a skill, they must put approximately ten thousand hours of practice into that skill. Some have come out and modified this theory to say that ten thousand hours is to reach proficiency, but to master a skill one must put approximately 20 thousand hours of practice into the skill. These numbers are more of a guideline than they are facts. For someone to become very good at a skill, they must practice a lot. Everyone is different, and everyone learns at different speeds.

 

What constitutes practice is debated. It seems that the definition of practice is uncertain in this theory. Some musicians advocate that listening to music counts as practice, while other musicians deny this statement. Some will argue that visualization is practice, while others will argue against it.

 

What are your thoughts on the ten thousand hour rule?

 

 

The secret to gaining skill

Recently I have been learning how to draw. I signed up for a class in drawing and I have come a long way in my skill since I first started. Taking this class opened up my eyes to something that I already knew, but put it in a new perspective. Repetition.

For each object we learn how to draw we spend approximately 3 – 6 hours drawing the same item over and over again. The first few times are rough, but then it gets faster and more accurate. Eventually hidden details start to show themselves. We have learned a minimal amount of techniques, but my skill has greatly improved. The trick is to pick something that I can not draw, but practice it over and over again.

This approach to learning was how I also learned music. I would learn a new chord and practice it over and over again. In college I use to turn this into a game. I would play an etude at a specific tempo and each time I played it perfectly I would put a mark on a piece of paper. I would try to play it perfectly 100 times.

Every skill we learn, we perfect it by doing it many times. This is the trick to gaining skill. Do not be afraid of wasting time by practicing something a lot. It is better to master a few techniques than to barely use a bunch. Put it this way. If you focus on 1 thing for an hour a day each week. You will become very good at that one thing. You will be very good at 52 things by the end of the year. 52 things is more than enough to play well.

Music Business Part 3

In the last few music business articles, there are many suggestions on how to deal with the music business in general. I think it would be a good time to focus on a few personal skills. These three things will make your music career run more smoothly.

 

First: Having an egotistical thought process. This is probably the most common negative trait that musicians have. This is something that you would like to avoid. Most people who are egotistical do not go very far in the music business. Of course, there is a thin line between being confident and having an Ego. Confidence is a trait that you absolutely do want to have. The thing about having an ego is that, if you are so good, it makes others feel lesser. If you refer back to the article of music business part 1. It is recommended that you are friendly and easy to get along with. Having an ego can also lead to being hard to rehearse with and not being a team player. You want to be easy to rehearse with and you want to work well as a team so that the music will be the best that it can be. It will also be more fun.

 

Second: Tough skin. Sometimes the music business can be hard, especially in the academic setting.  Not everything in the music industry is horrible and cut throat, but it is there and you will experience it. It is impossible to have any job that does not have some kind of cut throat people in it. If someone is mean, just ignore it. If you get rejected or fired from a band, keep trying.

 

Third: Appreciate your job. Most people dream about being able to stand on stage and play music for others to enjoy. I think one of the most satisfying experiences is that you can change someone’s emotions by making noise. Enjoy the fact that this makes you a very powerful and influential person. It is easy to get down about certain things, but I hope you can learn to appreciate what a luxury it can be as well.

 

These are some tips on the mental aspects of the career. I hope that these enhance your life.

Music Business Part 2

Are you in a band and want to learn how to be a better member of it? Do you have an audition for a band coming up and want to learn how to impress the other band members? Here are three simple tips that will make them impressed.

First: Be early to all band related engagements. No matter what it is, you should try to be at least 30 minutes early. If the rehearsal starts at 7:00, you should be there at 6:30 setting up. If it is for a gig, you may want to be there even earlier than that. The absolute worst thing you can do is show up 10 minutes late for a gig, and hold the show up. For an audition this is important as well, because to the band, this will represent how you normally are.

 

Second: Bring your music with you to rehearsals or gigs. If you don’t use music, memorize it and work on it before you go to the practice or gig. When you are auditioning it will really impress the band leader that you took the time to learn their songs before you got the gig. It shows dedication. If you are already part of a band, it will save time in rehearsal and make the band sound better during the concert. It is annoying to show up to a rehearsal and spend 20 minutes letting one person practice their part that they should have already worked on. Forgetting your music will also hurt your rehearsal time, unless someone else was prepared enough to bring an extra copy of the music for you. You don’t need to rely on others for your success though, do you?

 

Third: Bring more equipment than you need. One time I was hired to play the national anthem on guitar for a sporting event. I brought my amp, guitar, and pedals. I was all set to go. Once I got there, I set up in the middle of the stadium where they wanted me and I realized I did not have power. I asked if they have one of those orange electrical plugs, but they did not. Eventually someone found one I could use, but that looked very unprofessional on my part. It is a good idea to think through all possible worst case scenarios and bring whatever equipment you might need. You should not rely on others for your success. You should spend the extra five minutes carrying equipment to your car that you might not use, just in case you need it. What will you do if you break a string? Do you have an extra set to change them? Did you bring an extra guitar? Think about these things. It will eventually save you.

 

I hope these suggestions will work themselves into your life. Keep an eye out for more career tips coming up.

Music Business Part 1

Many people will say “You can’t make a living in music.” You will also hear that music is a tough career choice. The only reason this is true is because people have not learned the business part of being a musician. These 3 tips will help you better prepare yourself for job opportunities and raise your chance of success in this amazing career.

 

First: Be a go getter. Have you ever heard the phrase: “the only guaranteed way to fail is by not trying”? This is true. So the very fundamental concept that any musician can use to better their career in music is by trying to better their career in music. Do not be afraid to pick up the phone and call someone about an opportunity. Do not be afraid to tell other musicians to keep you in mind if they ever need someone who plays your instrument. I have even seen people post on Facebook things similar to “I am free this Friday evening and need a gig on bass. Please call me if you need someone” The sad thing about life is that most people won’t remember to call you if you don’t remind them that you exist and are willing to play for them. People definitely will not call you If they do not even know you exist, so don’t be afraid to make a new contact.

 

Second: Be fast to reply to all possible opportunities. When someone calls you, messages you, emails you, or talks to you in person be fast to reply. The faster you can say yes, the more likely you will get the job rather than someone else who was also contacted. A faster reply also appears more professional. If you cannot do the job, still reply as quickly as you can. This is polite so that they know to keep looking. This gives him as much time as possible to find someone else. If you cannot do the job and you never reply, the person will probably think you are uninterested and will not ask you again in the future. If you reply quickly and say no, he may contact you again in the future.

 

Third: Appearance. A lot of musicians think about how they appear in front of a crowd of people they are playing for, but many people forget that the people that they are working with are just as important. You want to impress other musicians with your appearance. I am not talking about how you dress, although what you wear will make a difference in how people see you. I am talking about attitude. You need to appear approachable, friendly, nice, exciting, and fun to be with. No one would want to hire a cry baby who complains about his shoes being tied too tight during the last show. Always be friendly, and uplifting. Your goal is to make people like you on a personal level, or else they will probably hire someone else that they do like.

 

These are  tips that will completely change the way your music career will go. It is amazing at how many people either forget these tips, or avoid them and do not care. Good luck on your journey and keep an eye out for more posts about music business coming up!

Becoming a businessman and a musician

It is now 2015 and I want to wish everyone a good year. I want to talk today about the business side of music. Every musician, amateur or professional will deal with business. Its something that is unavoidable. Here are some suggestions on the business side of music.

1) People. You cannot avoid them. You will either play with them, for them, listen to them, learn from them, speak to them or any other number of kabobs. The way you interact with people will change your whole outlook on music. People are also in charge of your success. You could learn a lot about this topic by studying social skills in general. (I’m not saying you have bad social skills.) Here are a few more suggestions

Be polite to everyone and anyone. Believe it or not, I have seen other musicians act in horrible ways such as wishing someone pain. Then when they don’t get hired back they are confused. You should act professionally and politely to everyone.

Become friends with people. people tend to help friends. Likewise people will forget about you if you don’t leave a good enough impression the first time. If you keep in touch and build friendships this will be better. Also friends like playing with other friends.

2) Preparedness. Pretend for a minute that you are a soldier. You are posted in a war zone and the commander tells you that a group of guys are going out on a patrol. You go out and someone shoots at you, and you find the direction they shot from. You put your finger on the trigger, aim and pull the trigger. Click! Nothing! Oh man, I forgot bullets! This is a bad situation. Don’t be that guy.

If there is a chance you may need certain equipment bring it. You can always ask the leader if you need it, but if you don’t know bring it anyway.  It wouldn’t be a bad idea to make a list of the equipment you need for a gig so that you don’t forget and realize it when you are 40 miles away from home.

Under this section it is worth mentioning that business cards is considered being prepared. Any kind of promotional items. If someone wants to offer you a gig in the future they will need to know how to contact you.

Be early. I can’t emphasize this one enough. You can be late to set up, but you cannot be late to the gig. And if you happen to run late for a sound check tell the person in charge. Communication is very important.

3) Knowing what you don’t know. This one may seem strange but its important. This subject can be broken into 2 categories.

first: knowledge. You need to have a good idea of what you know and don’t know. This can be hard to learn. If someone asks you if you know a musician and you don’t. Be honest. If someone asks you to play a chord and you forgot the fingering, tell them. You will learn and grow more being honest. This can be helpful in the practice room as well.

Second: Confidence. If someone asks you a business question such as “how much would you charge for blah”, you do not need to answer their question immediately. You can inform them that you will get back to them with a price. You may ask what this has to do with confidence. If you immediately say “oh I’ll do it for 5 dollars because i’ve never played in front of someone before” you just lost a lot of value in that persons eyes. Just remember, if you don’t know the answer to a question you can advise them that you will get back to them. That will give you time to consider their question and to consult other people more experienced than yourself.

These are just a few thoughts on music business to get you started. Hope you enjoyed. Happy 2015.

Being A Musician Verse Being a guitarist

You may think that a guitarist is a musician, but there are actually distinct differences between the two. It may be hard for non-musicians to see the difference, but it does exist. I encourage everyone to try to be a better musician, because being a better musician will make you better at the instrument of your choice, the guitar. There is not a conclusive list of all the differences, but I want to point out a few differences to open your eyes to what they may be.

1) A musician wants to learn more about all aspects of music. Have you ever met another guitar player who doesn’t know the name of the chord he is playing and he doesn’t care to learn what it is? This is a sign he is not a musician, he is just a guitar player. A true musician wants to learn about music theory, so that he can understand why certain things work. A musician might want to learn about other instruments too. In fact many musicians play multiple instruments.

2) A musician is not satisfied with where he is at. This one may seem strange, but most musicians want to be better. For another example, have you ever met a guitarist who thinks he is really cool because he can play the intro to sweet home Alabama with heavy distortion? A musician may be at that level, but he desires to be better.

3) A musician knows that music does not come out of the instrument, rather music is made by the person behind the instrument. A musician understands the music, as well as the instrument. Learning the instrument is just one part of being a musician, taking that extra step to becoming a musician means the music is part of you. It means that you are confined by your knowledge of music rather than your instrument.

4) being a musician is knowing the art of music. When you learn the art of music, you learn certain skills and lifestyle habits that can be transferred to other aspects of life. The discipline that is learned through practice can then be transferred to other activities such as sports. Being a musician is about learning these aspect of the art of music. If you only learn how to play an instrument, you may never fully grasp the treasure hidden.

Being a musician does not mean you are an expert. In fact it means the opposite, you can never master music. You may wonder why being a musician verse being a guitarist is import. It is because it will make you better at your instrument, It will teach you life lessons that can be transferred to other parts of life, it will give you deeper satisfaction in the long run and you will more easily switch instruments in case you ever thought of doing so. Anyone can be a musician, and it is easy to learn how to become one. Use music in a deeper way. You will be surprised how your guitar playing will change, and you might be surprised at what life skills you can learn.

So, you want to change how you play guitar

You decide to put on a backing track and play to a fun song. You realize that everything you play is boring, and you know you can do better. You start thinking about what is wrong with you. The good news is, nothing is wrong with you. It is just how you hear your musical lines at the moment. If you want to change how you play guitar, you need to change how you hear music.

Our mind is what controls every single aspect of our lives. It regulates our sleep, it tells us when we are hungry, it determines our favorite movies and it tells us what we want to sound like. Our brain is powerful, and the first step to changing any aspect of our lives is to change our brain. You may be wondering how to change how we think. It is easy, read on to find out.

Human being’s are creatures of habit. We create habits because of things that we do over and over again, they become ingrained in our mind so it seems like it is second nature to us.  Our past makes up a huge portion of who we are. Things we did when we were 5 will affect us for the rest of our lives. We cannot change our past, but each day our past becomes larger. What we do today will become the past. So we can change who we become, by changing what we do today.

All philosophy put aside, if we want to change how we play guitar we need to listen to music that we want to sound like. As mentioned above, we need to do this many times, repeat it over and over. This music needs to be installed in us as if we are a computer. This is how we change how we play. You will always have pieces from music you played in the past, but you will start to evolve with time into the player you want to become.

Start working hard today, because today is our past. Today we say “Should I do this or should I do that”. Take this phrase and translate it into our past. “I should have done this instead of that”.