Comments: Feeding that Furnace

For your son:

I empathize - been there, done that, got several t-shirts.

I've been a musician since 5th grade. I'm not a professional, but it is a big part of my life. Trombone, guitar and most recently bass guitar. Been thrown in the deep end several times in the past 30-some years, often voluntarily. Occasionally I ask myself, "Why am I doing this?" Later on, though, and with few exceptions, I realize that I got something worthwhile from the effort, whether it is contacts, exposure, or just more experience. It doesn't mean I liked it, though.

The fastest I ever learned was when I had to play with others who were better than me. Not just because I didn't want to be "that guy," but because I could hear and see what good players do to be good.

Put a radio on stations you never listen to and play along with music you don't know. Play along with commercials. When you can't play along, think about what you might play when you hear something.

Part of the stress is just plain discomfort at being in an unfamiliar situation, whether it is the music you are playing or where you are or what you have to wear. I know few players who don't want to do their best, and who don't beat themselves up when they play below their own expectations. This is good to a certain point, but can be self-destructive. There is a big mental jump from knowing you can't do something to being unprepared to do something.

In short, it stinks when you think you came up short, but don't let it drag you down.

Whenever my kids or the kids in the praise band in church start stressing, I always tell them, "You know what your part is supposed to be. The audience doesn't. Keep your rhythm above all else because a good note at the wrong time is worse than a bad note in time. You'll remember your clams, but the audience won't. When someone says, 'Nice job!' say "Thanks," and don't tell them otherwise."

This part of being a musician is the first step in paying your dues. The step up from here is when you go from playing the music to Making Music. When you start to see that, the fun-factor goes way up, and all the time in the woodshed seems worthwhile.

You have my e-mail address. Drop a not if there is anything I can help with.

Posted by Versatek6 at February 4, 2010 01:06 PM

He is male right? It is always all about the food :) haha

My daughter would encourage him - she loves it when there is someone next to her better than she is so she can learn from them - it's like a free lesson. This will all make him killer good much faster - if he doesn't hate it too much :)

Posted by patti at February 4, 2010 07:29 PM