Tipsy Tuesday: Achievement = a reflection of our focus on it.

Video

Today marks day one of me being back on the east coast.  Because I’m extremely jet lagged, dehydrated and exhausted, I will leave you with an interview with Steve Vai.  The first time I watched it a few months ago, I found it to be extremely moving.  This video answers questions many of us have about success so maybe it’ll resonate with you as well.

“The only thing holding you back is the way you’re thinking”

 

Tipsy Tuesday: Uninspired? Refine your environment

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“This is important: Use your environment to PULL you into playing guitar, instead of PUSHING yourself to practice. It’s not only more effective, it’s also 100 times easier. Pushing requires work. Being pulled, being seduced, and being drawn into picking up the guitar. That’s effortless.

If your goal is to play like Jimmy Page, immerse yourself in his music. Listen to it every day. Take one song, and try to master it. Put that song on repeat and don’t move on until you’ve nailed it. Break it down, dissect it, analyze it, study it, and absorb everything you can on it. Hang out with other people who like the same music, play the same stuff, and do the same things you want to do. Watch videos of him performing. Read some books on him. Read his interviews in guitar mags. Perform his songs for other people. Put yourself in his world for a few weeks. And don’t head off for greener pastures until you literally BECOME the music you’re trying to play. Make sure you do this. The results will absolutely blow you away.”

The above is an excerpt from Ultimate-Guitar.com. It’s a great place to snag tabs of your favorite songs and new to my knowledge, articles. Now, there is a lot of junk out there and the article is a bit pessimistic for my taste but after sifting through it, I found helpful advice that actually ties into my earlier post about everyone being carbon copies of what they’re passionate about.

When I wrote that post back in March, I did not identify any musicians who inspired me and wow, how quickly that has changed!  Now that I finally have musicians I look up to, listen to, and stalk on social media, I already notice the influence they have on my playing and ear for melodies.

Habits are a product of our environment. Instead of adapting to your environment, modify…refine… mold it into what inspires and pulls you towards your guitar.  When you surround yourself with what you want to become, you will become just that. This isn’t rocket science, I know, but sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder when events in your life distract you from your personal goals.

Image courtesy of ImageryMajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Team Paul Gilbert

I must admit, I’m going through a Paul Gilbert phase. My friend, Pierce introduced me to him and now I feel like I’ve been deprived my entire life… Gilbert is the best thing I’ve seen on youtube and ever since I watched him shred on an acoustic bass, I’ve been mesmerized by his knowledge and talent. In fact, there are many nights when I stay up late watching every Paul Gilbert video that youtube “recommends” me.

I rarely listen to Metal but no one gets me stoked on guitar the way he does. If this is your first time hearing about this humble shredding mastermind, I hope he has the same impact on you. And for my self-taught guitar friends, he’s a wonderful teacher as well–I recommend all his youtube videos.

Curse of training wheels

Almost two years ago, I sat in my first Journalism class as a timid grad student.  My new media professor showed us this video and it resonated with me… to this day, it still does!  I don’t know how I forgot Ira’s enlightening words but after explaining the premise of this blog to my friend and fellow guitar player, Dan, I was referred to this video once again.  After watching it 3 or 4 more times in one sitting, I realized it should be shared with other aspiring musicians.

Clearly, the advice of Ira Glass can be used in different aspects of life and creativity but this is so freaking accurate when learning an instrument.  We all know what great music is and many of us quit because we don’t sound like our idol(s) and no one reminds you that it’s a long road of persistence, frustration, and rejection.  I mean, yes, we “know” of those things but let’s be honest, everyone wants to be the “exception.”  For those reasons and many more, that’s why I write in this blog: for the accountability, to share advice, and most importantly… to fight and toughen up through this long journey that’s ahead.

This is a concept I consistently beat my head against.  It’s hard man… I want to jam out with people but no one wants to jam with a musician who hasn’t removed their training wheels.  I dealt with that as a drummer and it’s frustrating, not to mention disheartening, when other musicians don’t want to collaborate with you because you aren’t a “badass” player yet.  And ya know what just kills me?   People constantly recommend playing with other musicians to improve… doesn’t this remind you of the catch 22 as a college graduate? “I’m overqualified for all these jobs but I don’t have enough experience for the other jobs…”

After trekking through the jungle of rejection and dissatisfaction,  I now understand why people refer to learning an instrument or anything in the creative realm as a journey.  As worthwhile as it is, there’s a lot of disappointment as a newbie… at least, that’s been my experience.  But don’t you worry, I’m still throwing punches back and so should you.

Muchos gracias Professor & Photojournalist Kim Komenich, Dan Padilla and of course, NPR’s Ira Glass.

P.S.

I apologize for turning this post into a rant but I hope you love the video as much as I do.

Realism + Stubborness = Success?

Realism is what we sometimes lack in regards to mastering an instrument or any other skill set. We tend visualize achieving our goals without the monotonous hard work that is necessary to reach them.   Now, believe me, I  am a fan of visualization but only focusing on the overall outcome may only lead to failure or even worse, quitting.  Ultimately, we must conceptualize the process we must adopt to become the successful, bad ass we strive to be!

Now here’s the realism again: this process will require a tremendous amount of time and energy to achieve your goals and the talent you aspire. It’s not going to be easy because to truly master this instrument, we must go beyond what is
reasonable, practical and even normal. …That is the visual I am trying to embrace myself.

I want to adopt the mindset of doing “enough” is actually not enough. I love reading memoirs and biographies of successful people, and the biggest thing I’ve learned is successful people never do what is “normal” or “just enough.” Sacrifices will be made in terms of extras in life beyond necessities, so what will those be for you and me?

Whatever level of mastery you or I desire to achieve, understand the commitment, stubbornness and realism that must be put in to get out something incredible beyond our imagination!

I’m sure me asking you these questions may seem silly but seriously think about this if you haven’t already: what must you do to achieve your goals? 

Okay.  Now think about how and when you will do that.

Was your answer to practice regularly?  Well, okay, when? What time? How long? How often?

Six days a week, I practice twice a day by dividing my session into AM and PM practices with the goal of 2 hours (minimum 1 hour) each.  This is reasonable for me because of my free time and the sacrifice of going home early instead of staying out late with friends like I’ve done in the past.

Maybe you already practice regularly and want to start a band.  Who are you going to contact?  What type of personality traits and work ethic are you looking for in band members?  What social media platforms will you use to contact people?

I suppose what I’m getting at is to stop saying you’re going to simply do something.  We’ve both been down that road and where did it lead us?  To a blog, apparently.  So develop a plan of action instead and implement it this week! If you fall off, try again. It’s never too late and it’s not failure unless you quit, which I REFUSE to let you do. We are in this together.