by Chris Ellis, music instructor
Does this sound familiar?
“I want my child to have the chance I never had to become a musician…” or “ I started playing in school but gave it up. I wish I hadn’t” or “I loved it but then I had something happened on stage and I could never confront it again”.
As a music teacher I have heard these statements over and over.
Each of these reasons was tendered with a look of regret and hope that their child will somehow magically be spared the devastating unhappiness of a treasured goal that has been disappointed.
So what happened? Why did you give it up? Chances are you have a reason but deep down, there is something more… some other elusive reason.
In my role as music instructor, I have rehabilitated many musicians.
It is not difficult. All you have to do is listen to their story and have a basic understanding of life and human behavior to pull out the real reason they gave it up and to handle that reason.
Of all the “reasons” someone might give for abandoning their dream in whatever form (singing, or playing an instrument) there are a few that happen more often than others and I will explain them to you today as you may just recognize yourself in one of them and find the tools to regain your passion and start making beautiful music again.
1. Someone pooped on your goal, your enthusiasm or your skills.
This is not as uncommon as we would hope. It occurs often in “polite society”. If you have put yourself out there and performed, I am sure you have run into someone who wants to give you “constructive criticism”.
I don’t know why some people think they have the right to do so or what makes them think their critiques are welcome but they are not. I never critique anyone unless they specifically ask me for it and I NEVER do so unless I can give them the solution and how to correct it immediately.
During the probably hundreds to thousand times I have performed, I have had people come up to me and say my “F” was flat (Really? Which “F” was that?), that the players I was playing with were not as good as me (This is a compliment?) that I played pretty good for a girl, and other completely inane statements.
No artist is spared. If you perform and expose your art you WILL get this crap.
If you let it affect you, you will get disheartened and quit. Don’t let it! Get away from people who do that and stay away.
One of the best rejoinders I have used when someone has come out of a crowd and said something like that is “Where are you playing? I’d like to come critique your performance.” Invariably they are not playing out and have never done so. It shuts them up quite handily.
Understand that anyone who does that has issues. Ditch them and move on.
2. You just didn’t understand the subject.
Let’s face it. Music theory is a term that strikes fear into the hearts of many people who have tried to study it. I have actually had students tell me that they didn't want to learn theory, they just wanted to play.
Again, life does not work that way. That is like saying you don’ t want to know how a car works, you just want to fix them. You can’t.
Any subject consists of theory or the laws and principles behind the subject (how it works) and the practical application or the doing of the thing.
Even learning has its own theory and practical application (http://www.appliedscholastics.org) and is a subject unto itself.
Written music is simply a set of symbols that allow you to read or write music so that it persists and can be duplicated by yourself or other artists. Each symbol has a specific meaning and once you understand (you don’t even have to memorize them) you can understand music and will find it extremely interesting and easy.
Since I found myself spending too much time in private lessons explaining music symbols and how they worked, I wrote a book that is extremely simple and effective. When I piloted this book my end product was failed musicians whose interest was rekindled after reading the book and applying the information. One for one it worked. (You can get the book HERE.)
It is a well known fact that one will give up a subject if he does not understand the words or the symbols. All it takes to rekindle someone is to get the words and symbols defined.
3. “Something happened on stage and I was mortified and never went back.”
This is the most disheartening and upsetting of all the reasons. There are some wonderful people who live with this heartbreak for years, hiding that it occurred and feeling completely alone.
I have had grownups cry when they told me about this. It is that much of a heart break.
What they don't realize is this: performing onstage is its own skill and you can only perfect it by performing on stage. There is nothing that can prepare you totally for the nerves, the unexpected interruptions and the reactions of the audience.
The best strategy is to learn your act so completely that you can do it in your sleep. Then take it to an open mic or karaoke where there is a limited number of people. Then increase your exposure on a gradient. Work your way up to big crowds.
The other thing to understand is that everyone, EVERYONE bombs at some time or another. I can still recall my most painful bomb as if it were yesterday. The trick is to understand that it comes with the territory and use the bomb to learn from it. Some day you might be swapping war stories with other seasoned musicians and hear about their bombs. It is a rite of passage almost.
Also understand that everyone has nerves and the more you perform with them, the more you know how to handle them. Performing can be like riding a roller coaster. You are terrified before you get on and so exhilarated when you get off that you can’t wait to get back on.
The main thing to understand is that most people do not go up on stage, at least not while they are sober.
Just putting yourself out there as an artist is somewhat akin to holding your soul in your outstretched hands and offering it to someone holding a razor blade. It is personal and vulnerable because it is you.
Also understand that the artists who continue to put themselves out there without reservation even after the failures, the bombs, the criticism and all of the rest are the ones we love the most. They let us in to their private universes and share all of themselves with us. How lucky are we to be invited?
If you do this, you are special and wonderful. Keep doing it. You are giving the world a great gift.
If you gave it up, download my book and read it next to your keyboard. You will want to go back to it.
Music is the greatest joy in life in my view. Do not deny yourself the exhilaration and camaraderie that musicians enjoy.
If you are stuck and need more assistance, contact me and I will help you.
Article by Chris Ellis
With a thousand songs on your iPod and every musical act in the world to listen to online, when a band comes along that sets themselves apart in this digital age it’s truly remarkable. No Convention really is alternative rock because, like their name suggests, they’re not the usual. These guys don’t fall into the regular mold of what a rock band is supposed to be. Sure, they have a lead singer on guitar, a guy on bass and a drummer, but what sets this trio apart is their mature message and penetrating sound. This southern California band is playing with burning embers at their feet, in the center of a devastated world, “screaming to the skies” injecting hope and connecting in an immense way.
Listening to the band’s debut album “Yours to See” can feel epic and at times even intergalactic the way it lifts you up. The noise of the world with its heaviness and force all vanish with this music. What is so impressive is how universal everything is; these are songs that resonate with anyone. They’re about our love affair with life, the heartaches and struggles, the hopefulness and triumphs. It’s as if the lead singer Johnnie Ferro’s voice is serenading us to keep going, that we’re not alone, when he sings “let’s let our worlds collide.” Love is one of the major themes of the work and throughout the album it’s as if a happier version of Romeo and Juliet were taking center stage, absent of fear, not wanting to run away, and instead boldly taking on the whole world, not to die in a tomb, but to live. “Yours to See” is a classic work, demonstrating maturity, scope and skill well worthy of heavy rotation on anyone’s iPod.
Johnnie Ferro, Trevor Fraisse and Neil Briggs not only created an impressive first album, they’ve also worked hard to take their act on the road, playing shows all over southern California. Additionally, one of the best things about the band is their humor and infectious personalities. They’ve been known to dress in drag when they perform and inject a real sense of fun into what they do, reminiscent of great bands like The Beatles that used to joke around in interviews. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a group of such talented musicians making serious, epic music without any of the seriousness of the usual rock band persona. They are real, they’re themselves, and these guys love what they do because it shines through.
It’s exciting to discover a new band and even more exciting to discover one that the rest of the world hasn’t caught on to just yet. With No Convention it’s like finding that rare diamond, that needle in the haystack, and you can have them all to yourself, for a short while at least. The world will come knocking…no, tearing down doors once it discovers them too. Why wouldn’t it? This band is making classic songs right from the go. Big songs that impinge, deliver, uplift and inspire. Dare to take control and collide into this sound filled with hope and truth, it’s yours to see.
For more information on the band No Convention go to www.noconvention.com
WD-HAN is a band with an interesting name, WD-HAN actually meaning "We Don't Have A Name." The band started while Cal Henry, the lead guitarist, was still in high school. It wasn't long before he discovered the unique talents of female drummer Lea Campbell and then picked up the vocal stylings of Spencer Barnes one night when Barnes was pulled from the audience to do an impromptu performance with the band; the rest is history.
The group started playing classic rock covers like Jimi Hendrix and diving into some humorous hip hop before striking gold with original songs of their own which infused several different influences to create a very cool, pop rock sound. The Tampa, Florida based band has been featured on nationally syndicated television, several radio stations and performed with bands such as Guster, Fun, and Motion City Soundtrack.
One thing which characterizes the group is an un-serious, fun, more upbeat style of music which fits very universally into much of the mainstream without sounding exactly like anyone in the mainstream. There are touches of bands such as the Goo Goo Dolls, Lifehouse, Maroon 5 and others but WD-HAN manages to carry their own identity forward because there are several songs which surprise you such as "Something Worth Writing About" which goes a little heavier and deeper than other tracks, really rocking out.
Their music could be what you listen to while you're in your car driving to the beach and at the same time could fit perfectly as a theme song for television built for youth. There is an empowering, uplifting, very fun feel to the music WD-HAN makes which make them well worth discovering if you are interested in taping into the ever flowing fountain of youth the band has managed to bottle out in Florida. Take a drink, sit back and relax, WD-HAN may be the band that doesn't have a name, but they are surely making a name for themselves with their fresh, energetic sound.
For more information on WD-HAN please visit: www.wdhanepk.com
Neal Fox, originally from Brooklyn, New York now resides in Florida where he continues to produce music that not only affects you because of the sound of it but more importantly because of the message. Fox sees the same world we do, filled with corrupt politics, suppressive drugging of children, rampant crime and instead of turning a blind eye and escaping into white picketed fence land, he instead challenges that vision of our world by exposing it using the most powerful weapon on Earth: art.
Fox has had a successful career making music. He has been signed to major record labels, received critical acclaim, helped score a couple films, as well as compose music for a ton of commercials and several TV shows, including "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," released his own music independently and even produced a couple one man shows. He crosses genres and weaves in and out of them like he was a taxi driver maneuvering through the streets of his native New York, comfortable with his vehicle, always aware of his passenger and never taking his eyes off the road. His music has achieved a certain level of ethical idealism that is often missing in a pop culture that is constantly fed hair-grabbing, nail scratching reality television, and degrading, sexual and drug fueled music. Neal Fox is taking on the whole damn system and coming out on top with a brave and powerful outlet which continues to produce work after work of hard-hitting, political and inspirational music that shines a light like one of those big searchlights the helicopters use, except Fox's light is magnified much brighter.
Neal Fox's songs and music videos expose the true, yet often hidden elements working against an America he has grown up cherishing. Some of his videos depict American history as Fox depicts it, not as the textbooks suggest it to be, but as he has observed it to be from a careful study of the world around him. Big government, corrupt pharmaceutical companies and every bad guy on the planet, beware: Neal Fox will find you and instead of falling for your traps, he will set one of his own, in a song.
For more information on Neal Fox please visit: www.TheRealNealFox.com
The Arcane Insignia have been hitting the New York music scene like a beautiful tempest. James Alexander on guitars and vocals coupled with Antoinette Ady playing violin yields a ferocious and powerful dynamic duo. Their music is exciting and sweepingly emotional, leaving you with the feeling that you've been taken on a wild, epic romance in some forgotten world. Songs that haunt you, lyrics that seep into you and strings that keep pulling you into a musical wonderland, what more could you ask from a pair of musicians which surpass the usual songwriting formats and dive into new territory.
James Alexander is no stranger to an artist's life; both his parents were talented actors and he grew up with creativeness all around him. He credits music as having a unique quality which can save lives as it did for him during dark times and he now seeks to use music to inject a passion that can truly affect people. You can best hear this in his haunting vocals which are reminiscent of Kurt Cobain.
Antoinette Ady has well over a decade of violin behind her which has taken shape from countless concerts, orchestras, talent shows and private tutoring. Unlike most other classically trained violinists, Ady also writes music and sets out to create beautiful, moving pieces wherever she can. Her skill is well honed and her playing is captivating. She manages to use her violin as an incredible force that moves each song into hidden places and at the same time takes them to mountaintops and carries you through every valley of emotion.
The dictionary credits "arcane" to mean: known or understood by very few; mysterious; secret; obscure; esoteric and the word "insignia" as: a distinguishing mark or sign. The Arcane Insignia create a unique style of music that weaves tons of subtle and secretive feelings, however based on the response they have received from only their first, few released songs and early performances, they promise to be an act that will not remain hidden or misunderstood for long. They are that rare combination of artists which specialize in doing what art was meant to do: create an emotional impact. This pair is sure to leave their insignia on you, cherish the opportunity.
For more information on The Arcane Insignia visit:
Michelangelo once said, "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” At Artists Run This Planet we see Earth as our marble and we hold a chisel and hammer up to it every day. This beautiful canvas of a planet waits for us to paint it daily. Gone are the days of suppressing art, of pursuits less noble than creating. We have the technology available to create in any medium, and faster than ever before. As artists we are the creators of every new innovation and idea that takes shape. We are mankind’s continual hope and driving force — “Artists Run This Planet." - David Carus, Art Planet CEO & Founder