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, share the many other ways you ignored and distracted yourself from doing work that mattered.

Get Guided & Get Going!

Guitarists who fail to plan, plan to fail! Get the free 5-step Plan for How to Practice Guitar. A short guide to creating a productive,...

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Hacker Vs. Trickster - Thoughts for Guitarists & Other Creatives

musings Oct 06, 2016

We all want to do more and better in our lives, don’t we? But how do we achieve this? Through dedication, bootstrapping and persistent effort over time? That sounds hard (and not much fun). There must be some shortcuts. Right? Why put in 10,000 hours when 20 will do?

The internet is awash in a tantalizing array of shortcuts to instant guitar gratification.

You get the idea.

The web is also replete with an abundance of apps that are guaranteed to expedite results like Ultimate Guitar, Yousician and Guitar Karaoke. They’re cheap, visually stimulating, dynamic and full of canned encouragement. They must work. Right?

What if I told you that the way to guitar mastery (or any other creative enterprise), requires intentional effort, a persistent and purposeful practice regimen and study with a seasoned and dedicated professional? Yeah, I know, more than likely...

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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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What's It For?

inspiration musings Sep 03, 2016


I recently “graduated” from the 6th session of Seth Godin’s altMBA. A program that insists students lean in, level up and leap. It pushes participants to communicate, connect, stretch and dance with fear. It also requires the willingness to embrace tension, empathy and transformation.

This program is for anyone ready to ask tough questions of themselves and others in order to align their purpose and passion with their work and do more better.

The question that pops up most frequently in the program is “What’s it for?” It’s a question you are encouraged to apply to every project, blog post, email, etc. It’s a way of checking your motivations and aspirations against your core purpose and beliefs. Sort of a modern day practice of the Buddhist Eightfold Path.

I now apply this simple question to everything I do. The judgement I’m making about what someone does or says. The parenting decision I’m about to enact. The book...

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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.


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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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5 Step Plan for How to Practice Guitar

resources Jul 23, 2016

To download as a PDF click here.

Beginning an effective practice routine is simple, but simple doesn’t mean easy! Here are five essential steps that are easy to understand and actionable that will help you get going or get back to a rewarding guitar playing adventure!

Step 1 – Make a Vow

Developing a persistent and purposeful practice often requires changing a behavior or developing a new habit. The most effective way to do this is not just to promise to begin and maintain a practice routine, but also connect it to serving others. Why? Research shows that connecting a vow to serving others is the most effective way to achieving a desired outcome.

Practice to honor the faith and investment of those who are financing your instruction. Or to entertain and inspire those around you. Or to help take your jam session, garage band, or touring act to the next level. Or to make the world, or at least your little corner of it, a better place. Think not what will your practice do...

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