We Are All Musicians (& This Simple Exercise Will Prove It)!

Uncategorized Nov 17, 2016

Are You a Musician?

The answer to this question is usually based on whether the person being asked plays a musical instrument or not. If they do, then the answer is of course “Yes.” However, if they do not, the answer is most frequently “No.” This is both sad and incorrect. We are all musicians and I can prove it. Just answer the two simple questions below.

What Is Music & What It’s For

Music is a language. Like all languages, it’s simply organized sound. What’s it for? Well like any language, music is for communicating and connecting with ourselves and others.

Question #1

Have you ever sung a tune? Hummed or whistled one? Be honest. I mean have you ever done this? If you think not, ask your mom or dad if you did so as a child. I bet’cha did.

Question #2

Have you ever danced to music? Clapped your hands or tapped your feet to it? Felt it reverberate inside you? Again, I mean have you ever done...

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“I Didn’t Have Time to Practice” - AKA “I’ve Been Really Busy….”

inspiration Oct 13, 2016

Really? You poor thing! Thank goodness you had time to breathe, eat, sleep and everything else essential to remain alive!

But how sad. You didn’t have any time to improve or edify yourself or elevate and enrich your life (and the lives of those who care about you and that you care about).

And how inconvenient that you had no time whatsoever to:

  • shop for stuff you don’t really need.
  • check or answer email.
  • watch television, Netflix or YouTube videos.
  • check in on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.
  • listen to commercial radio.
  • whine, complain or procrastinate.

Please, do share the essential and imperative duties and obligations that required your every waking moment….

Or perhaps you should, instead, stop ignoring and distracting yourself from improving upon the great work you are capable of. We need that. Go!

Guitarists Who Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail!

An effective practice routine is simple, but simple isn’t easy!

Get the Free Guide: 5-Steps to an...

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The 3 Relationships All Advancing Guitarist Need to Cultivate

musings resources Sep 12, 2016

Are You an Advancing Guitarist?

A true musician (or artist of any type), must be a lifelong student. Whatever level of mastery we think we’ve achieved, there’s always more to learn (not to mention lessons worth revisiting). Learning moments come from mentors, bandmates, fellow travelers, critics, rivals, fans and hecklers. Are we open to them? Can we put your ego aside to listen, learn and improve? We better! As Ryan Holiday points out in Ego Is the Enemy, “If we’re not still learning, we’re already dying.”

The more accomplished we become at our craft, the more likely we are to allow ourselves to feel accomplished. We avoid challenges to or reconsideration of what we know, or think we know. We are quite happy to sit in our comfort zone where we never feel inept or stupid and where we are never called out or upon.

I frequently catch myself enjoying this false sense of achievement. Happily ensconced in the warmth of familiarity, complacency and...

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The Elements of Style for Musicians

musings resources Sep 07, 2016



The Elements of Style for Musicians
(And We Are All Musicians!)

Music is a language and language is used to connect and communicate, to express and convey and to tell and be told stories. Language is a powerful tool. It is can be both constructive and dangerous. Through language we can elevate or degrade, soothe or make suffer, sanctify or defile, gather or divide, testify or discredit. How do you use language? Remember music is a language.

Remember William Strunk Jr.’s guide The Elements of Style? For my generation (and my parents’ and grandparents’ as well), it was the Bible for how to use language correctly and well. It instructed us to omit needless and fancy words, to not overwrite or overstate and to avoid affecting a breezy manner. It also directed us to place ourselves in the background and prefer the standard to the offbeat.

What do Rules of Usage, Principles of Composition and An Approach to Style have to do with music?...

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A Teacher's Job Is Not to Satisfy, But Inspire Curiosity

Uncategorized Aug 23, 2016

Teaching is not instructing, or directing or managing.

Teachers, people like us, lead.

We connect, we encourage, we motivate, we questions, we transform, we initiate, we cultivate and we inspire curiosity.

It's a journey undertaken by fellow travelers where there's no clear ultimate destination, but we've planned a little ahead and we're focused on the right now.

Sooner or later our paths will part. No matter. There are many paths and many teachers.

In the end, if a teacher has done their job well, they've instilled the ability to teach and to lead.

People like us do things like this - be a teacher.

 

Guitarists Who Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail!

An effective practice routine is simple, but simple isn’t easy!

Get the Free Guide: 5-Steps to an Effective Guitar Practice Plan!

These five essential steps will help you get started or get back to a rewarding guitar playing adventure. Get guided and get going!

 
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The Power of Acknowledgement, Silence and What Comes Next

inspiration musings Aug 19, 2016


The Power of Acknowledgement

It’s so simple, really, isn’t it? Someone holds the door for you and you say “Thanks.” Someone posts a milestone event or achievement on social media and you "Like" it. You call your folks on a special day. You do this daily, right?

I try to. But with a new intentionality and level of depth. Not just saying “thank you” or "Liking" or calling, but connecting and communicating appreciation for a specific gift, lesson or benefit that someone provided to myself or another. Connection, acknowledgement, gratitude. If you want to feel it, you must do it.

The Power of Silence

Ever listened to Miles Davis’ album Kind of Blue? If not, do so, now (you’ll thank me later).

Kind of Blue is the best selling jazz record (ask your parents), of all time. It's generally considered the greatest recorded achievement of the iconic artist’s career and...

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Teachers Shake Us Free From Our Fears and Point Us Toward Our Possibilities

Uncategorized Jul 26, 2016

I Was Lucky

Not bright enough nor dumb enough to warrant attention, I languished in the public school system. Through some serendipitous circumstances, I was enrolled and attended Wilbraham & Monson Academy where I thrived academically thanks in no small part to fantastic teachers.

They were engaged, empathetic, and eager. That experience inspired me to pursue teaching upon graduating from college. I didn’t last long as a history teacher, but I have taught all my life. After all, teaching is not a job, it’s a way of interacting with others.

What Teaching Is Not

Instructors disseminate information. Usually, in the same meaningless way, it was dripped to them. They believe knowledge is power, a weapon to wield, not a gift to share. It is in their interest to withhold some of what they know to retain their position of superiority.

Directors, managers, foremen, shift leaders and the like are all just variations on the same theme. They seek and retain authority through...

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3 Ways Advancing Guitarists Can Optimize Their Progress On YouTube

resources Jun 08, 2016

Some guitar instructors discourage students from exploring online guitar instruction and resources. They warn that there's misinformation, bad instruction and that it is a distraction. I disagree.

If a student is receiving responsive and useful instruction, valuable encouragement and feed back from their instructor, they should be encouraged and directed to explore resources to help augment and optimize their progress.

Here are the top 3 ways I encourage my students to use the most useful free app on the internet for further exploration and development on guitar - YouTube.

  1. Exploring and Learning New Tools, Techniques & Songs

    If you want to fast track your progress, Justin Sandercoe's Channel hosts his entire Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced Method. He also has several playlists on various styles, techniques, and songs.

    Justin was a pioneer of using YouTube to provide online guitar lessons. Another is Marty Schwartz's Channel GuitarJamz. You can...
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Be the Teacher You Wish You Had

Uncategorized Jun 02, 2016


Being a teacher is not a matter of title or position. It’s a way of being and acting in the world. Anyone who shares knowledge, skills and expertise to benefit those around them is a teacher.

We may gain title or position and even payment as teachers, but those are byproducts of what we do, not reasons to do it. Our purpose is to uplift and elevate others and we understand that teaching and learning are two sides of the same coin. We learn while we teach.

Of course, some do teach merely for the title, position and payment. For them, the knowledge, skill or expertise they’ve acquired is not a gift to be shared, but a weapon to wield or a resource to be exploited. They don’t seek to pull others up, but to keep them down.

Be the teacher you wish you wish you had.

Guitarists Who Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail!

An effective practice routine is simple, but simple isn’t easy!

Get the Free Guide: 5-Steps to an Effective Guitar Practice Plan!

These...

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Fail Often, Fail Fast & Fail Forward

Uncategorized May 25, 2016

As an advancing musician (or any other artistic or creative practitioner), you must always reach just beyond your abilities and experience. Seeking the edges and pushing the envelope is equally exciting and terrifying and it is the only way to improve.


Making mistakes must be not only an accepted part of the process, but welcomed. Mistakes are opportunities to identify and improve and can lead to further discoveries. Embrace them, don't shy away. Recognize your failures, identify the source, improve your skills and keep pushing!

Guitarists Who Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail!

An effective practice routine is simple, but simple isn’t easy!

Get the Free Guide: 5-Steps to an Effective Guitar Practice Plan!

These five essential steps will help you get started or get back to a rewarding guitar playing adventure. Get guided and get going!

 
Continue Reading...
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