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What Do Tech and Music Instruments Have in Common? 

You gotta play with them both REPEATEDLY if you expect to get better at using them!

There is no "Easy" button or Matrix scenario for musicians.  You don't hit a switch or plug in to a computer and become an innovator on your instrument of choice.  Nope... you spend your 10,000 hours in the wood shed, discovering both your instrument and your creativity.

Monty Oum is a Gamer equivalent to Les Paul and Steve Vai.  Monty spent hours learning how to create "Haloid" and "Dead Fantasy" videos he posted on You Tube. He discovered how to merge aspects of two well-known franchises into fight sequences between Spartan from Halo and Samus from the Metroid franchise.  Those in the gaming community consider Monty's work to be revolutionary and bad ass!  Those on the outside just don't get it.  Some may say that Monty had the advantage of going college but that isn't the case... he dropped out of high school, did his 10,000 hours in the wood shed discovering his "instrument" and his creativity, and took gaming and video production in a whole new direction.

Do you want to be known as "Revolutionary" and "Bad Ass" in music?  Follow the path of the revolutionary bad asses that proceeded you: do your 10,000 hours in the wood shed, discover your instrument and your creativity, and take music in a whole new direction.

That's My Rumor, and I'm Sticking To It.


 

She Sits Near The Stage... 

Her name is Angela.  She sits near the stage as the Tayters begin to play music from a by-gone era.  Bright eyes and a beaming smile emerge on Angela’s face as the songs transport her through the memories of her youth.  She sings every song.  Though sitting down, she cannot resist the urge to move with swing and ragtime music coming from Spud, Uncle Funk, and Clod Tayter.  Angela follows Spud’s advice: he says there is plenty of room for dancing.  Angela slowly rises from her chair as the next song begins.  She keeps her left hand on the edge of the table as her feet shuffle in time with Guy Lombardo’s “Enjoy Yourself,” her eyes becoming brighter as she grins from ear to ear.  Her left hand releases the table as she moves with a happy grace that infects the entire room.  She dances along until one shoe slides off its foot.  She looks up at the Tayters with a sheepish look on her face.  Clod kicks both his shoes off and says it is no big deal as the Tayters keep playing.  Angela quickly shuffles out of her other shoe and returns to her free spirited dance.  Upon song’s end, Clod jumps off the stage, walks toward Angela and gives her a hug.  She’s made his day joyful beyond compare.  She even said that Clod reminds her of her late husband, and that they were married for 60 plus years. 

Do you wonder why musicians enjoy doing what we do?  Angela’s experience, and others like her, is perhaps the best explanation a musician can give.  We musicians have both the ability and the opportunity to take people back to the days of their youth regardless of their current age.  People know the words of the songs that helped them get through the tough times in life.  People remember songs that “said it all so well” during their first crush of love.  Songs are an indelible part of our youth, and we love to relive those days from time to time.

This is why Clod Tayter and Eric Anderson keep sharing music from the stage and in the lesson studio.

What do you think?  Leave a comment or share your experiences!!!

 

So You Think You're a Musician, Do Ya? 

What is the difference between a person that plays an instrument and a person who is a musician?  The question is a frequent discussion topic.  The distinction gets lost in areas that are not known as the major music centers in the nation.  It is a common mistake to say you are a musician simply because you play an instrument.  By that line of reasoning, you can also say that you are a NASCAR driver simply because you drive a car.  So what is it that separates the musician from those who merely play an instrument? 

Commitment to getting more gooder!

I know a person who loves to talk about gear.  He can tell you all the details.  He also says his ambition is to do a world tour.  When asked about his practice routine, he says he “cannot” practice cuz he does not have a drum set.  Those who know me know that I have not practiced on a drum set over the past five years.  Impending eviction notices from apartment managers inspire one to rethink some things.  Yet I spent countless hours in the wood shed pushing myself to get more gooder.

Musicians overcome their obstacles to make sure they spend time with their instruments.

However, sitting on the couch with your instrument while watch South Park does not mean that are you getting more gooder.  There’s got to more to it…

Perpetual learning

There’s a big part right there!  Learning… something new every day.  It could be technique, composition and arranging, chord structure, scales, intellectually property issues, gear, and or modifying your gear.  Perhaps you decide to learn a new instrument or take vocal lessons.  There is always more in music to learn about, and every bit of knowledge AND skill you add to your collection sets you up to jump on every opportunity that comes your way.  The life a musician is one spent learning and preparing for future opportunities.  And where do these future opportunities come from?

Consistently gigging

Yep!  Consistently playing with other musicians, either live or in the studio, is where you find the opportunities.  More importantly, that is where the opportunities find you!  You may be in one band, be a hired gun, or do strictly sessions work.  It takes some time for people to realize that you’re truly a musician, as opposed to one who plays music once a month with some buddies.  People need to see a trend that shows you’re a busy musician. 

  • Can they see your calendar?  
  • Do they see you playing at the live music venues in town? 
  • Can they find you and your band on You Tube? 
  • Do they know you’re actively involved in your church’s band? 
  • Do they have easy access to your recorded performances? 
I’ll admit that I do not have a catalog of recorded performances to boast of.  (As of this writing, I’ve begun work on my first original song… like even doing a demo with a guitar and everything!)  I bump into people at gigs and around town who have seen me at different venues in different towns with different bands.  At other times, I have run into members of bands that invited me to fill in when their drummer was not available… and wound up filling in again! 
The point is you must be out and playing to be recognized as a musician by other musicians.
That’s when musicians and event coordinators put opportunities before you and your band.  Gigging is the musician’s form of networking and advertising.  Every gig is an “exposure” gig.  You’re a mere hobbyist when you do not share your art and the fruits of your labor with other musicians and the public-at-large: you’re a musician in your own mind and you’re the ONLY one who knows how great you are!  The rest of us are blissfully ignorant of your awesomeness, and we l ikeit like that!!!
Pure, plain, and simple for the true musician: commitment, learning and gigging are three major things that separate the musician from the hobbyist.  Perhaps there are more.  Candidly, I’m interested in your thoughts on this subject.  I hear a lot of chatter about it so I decided to weigh on the subject.
That’s my rumor and I’m sticking to it

 

How Frustration Leads to Fruition 

The words are kind of big… sorry about that.  However, when the word fits, use it!!!  Fruition is nothing more than attaining something desired.  Sooooooooooo… how does one attain something desired through frustration?  Glad you asked.  Most musicians understand the following scenario.

You’re sitting in at a jam session when you realize the upcoming song is in a style you’re not comfortable playing.  You try to play along, but drop your volume so others don’t hear you mess up.  You can’t wait for this song to end.  It ends soon enough, but you continue to feel frustrated cuz you weren’t a part of song but a mere spectator: never a good feeling.  Thus your frustration begins…

While driving home, you ponder the experience; wondering how you will make sure that doesn’t happen again.  You decide it is time to listen to music you normally don’t listen to, search you tube tutorials, or call other musicians for guidance.
Scratch that last one… you can’t bring yourself to admit to another musician that you need help.  You labor and toil in the solitude of your make shift studio, feeling like you’re learning to play for the first time even though a decade of constant playing has passed since you played your first note.  Frustration reigns supreme that day after the jam session, yet you choose to stay the course.

Every passing day brings small amounts of success!  The nuances of the style find their way into your playing.  Your phrasing and expression begin to sound authentic instead of labored.  Foreign techniques feel natural and effortless, and tempos continue to increase.  You feel like you’re getting it.  You’re still not sure if you’re ready to play in that style with others.  Despite your reservations, you return to the jam session a week later.

A guy who wasn’t at the previous week’s session calls up another one of those songs.  You immediately turn your volume down. You listen… and feel yourself playing along and not messing up like last week so you bring up your volume.  Other musicians give you “that” smirk that says, “Ooooo, that’s just lovely, that is!” which boosts your confidence.  You stop thinking, play to the song’s groove, and enjoy that addictive experience of playing music in an ensemble.  Fruition achieved!!!!

“Addictive experience” may be the best explanation of a musician’s willingness to sit in the wood shed for hours, enduring the self-inflicted frustration while learning something foreign.  But it is that unexplainable experience of playing with other musicians, being immersed in the music, and interacting with the audience that will continually send true musicians back to the wood shed for hours of frustration… cuz the fruition of THAT experience is well worth it.

What is your story?  Have you experienced the same thing, or has it been a different experience for you?
Please share your thoughts on this experience cuz we musicians love to swap stories and Spinal Tap Moments

“That’s my rumor, and I’m sticking to it!”

 

Sooooo.... How Does Live Music Suspend Reality? 

Lots of people like country music!  That is why it’s been around for such a long time.  I like some of the old school and some of the new school country.  But I LUUUUUUUV seeing people get up and dance to the country songs Ron calls out each night.

There are not many things more rewarding as a musician then watching people enjoy the music we’re playing.  This may be little secret I shouldn’t tell but… people in the audience entertain us as much as we entertain them; perhaps even more.  It remains amazing to this day, the way music draws people from all walks of life together: the band, the audience, the banter, the dancing and singing, everyone has a wonderful time.  We suspend the reality of jobs, mortgage payments, utility bills, etc., and just celebrate life for a few hours.  Last night was one of those nights.

We had an enjoyable night playing at the Clovis Chamber of Commerce’s monthly mixer!  We kept it chill cuz it was a social gathering at the Kings River Winery.  The KRW Muscato is a mighty fine wine for sure!!!  The food was incredible, and the atmosphere was great.  But it was the people, both the Chamber members and the KRW Staff, who made it a wonderful night for the Uncountry Drummer.

Look at my calendar… Ron (give him a like on Face Book, please) and the band will be in Sanger, Clovis, and Bakersfield this weekend.  We’d love to be a part of your audience as we all suspend reality for a few hours, celebrate life, sing and dance, and maybe even play a bucket or two along the way.

“That’s my Rumor, and I’m sticking to it!”
 

Commitment To Your Craft 

“6… 23… 30…:  6 Days, 23 hours, and 30 minutes until we meet for our next session.
How much you progress (get more “gooder”) between now and then is up to you!”

Students hear that from time to time, usually when it is obvious they did not put any time into their playing between lessons.  Your rate of progress is up to you, and it is that simple regardless of your craft.  Musicians, gamers, athletes, and entrepreneurs who reach the heights of their professions tell story upon story of how much time they put into perfecting their craft.  Read a biography of anyone you consider to be great in her or his field and you will see stories about the amount of time the person committed to improving his or her talents and skills.  You must do your 10,000 hours in the wood shed before you rise above your peers.

You're making progress or you're making excuses.  It is THAT simple!!!

That's my rumor and I'm sticking to it,


 

Music, Theory, and Gear 

Music theory and gear are like a hobby… almost an addiction at times!!!  Theory intrigues me greatly, and I love shopping for drum gear on line and at Bentley's in Fresno.  Theory and gear are fun to explore and to learn about.  I love the history of both.  However, they’re not my favorite subjects because they lead a lot of musicians away from music’s real value and its most important quality: its ability to affect both musician and listener. 

Music affects the heart, mind, body, and soul in a very personal way.  Most listeners do not care about music theory.  They only care if the music affects their hearts and minds, and that is where their interest stops.  Music theory has its place and purpose but not for most listeners.  Theory is to music what the language arts are to the spoken and written word: it enables musicians to quickly and effectively communicate with other musicians.  Musicians (the minority in most audiences) may listen for chord structures and inventive scale usage.  They know the language that is used to describe the different parts of a composition.  The language of music theory must always remain subordinate to the music itself.  Music is written and performed to evoke an emotion or thought in both the musician and listener… it should be a shared experienced.  Placing music theory ahead of the music itself kills the shared experience.  In much the same way, a musician’s passion for gear must remain subordinate to his or her passion to improve the command and mastery of his or her chosen instrument(s).
 
I love my current set of Tama Starclassic drums!  They are wonderful drums with reliable hardware.  Zildjian makes equally wonderful cymbals. Unfortunately, drums and cymbals do not make my hands play “more gooder.”  Who cares about the degree of the bearing edges of the shells?  Who cares about the lathing and hammering process used on the cymbals?  Answer: the artists who create and craft these beautiful instruments!  Can you, the musician, make the instrument under your sticks, picks, fingers, or lips sing?  That is the one question musicians answer every time they play their instruments.  Believe me, listeners answer that question when they see a live band, stream an audio track, or put on their favorite album.  It is the one question that drives me to improve my command and mastery over my chosen instrument(s).
 
Music theory impresses me.  Those who know me know I am intrigued by chord structure.  Gear is just fun to explore and scrounge up.  However, music theory and gear have no value if “No” is the musician’s and or listener’s answer to the question: “Can you, the musician, make the instrument under your sticks, picks, fingers, or lips sing?”  Theory and gear are tools of the craft.  They should never be placed above the craft itself!
 
“That’s my rumor and I’m sticking to it!”