10 Life Lessons Learned on Stage

inspiration musings Mar 21, 2020

I've earned my living from playing music on stages large and small. Sometimes for festival audiences of thousands, sometimes to the sound of one fan clapping in a small club. Along the way, I learned a few lessons that inspire and inform other life endeavors. Here are my top 10 lessons learned from the stage that apply to living "the good life."

  1. Serve the song, don't make the song serve you. Your best work comes when you are present and generous and not attached to a self-serving outcome or agenda.

  2. You don't work music, you play it. The point of work worth doing is not to "win," but to be able to keep "playing the game."

  3. Music is a language and languages are for communicating, connecting, and collaborating. Knowing what your work is for is essential to doing it well. Dial in the motivation, intention, and aspiration of your work and keep it top of mind as you proceed.

  4. Music is a collaboration, not a competition. Self-expression is very...
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Life Lessons Learned at a Guitar Retreat

inspiration musings Sep 05, 2018
 

I'm just back from a week-long gig as a guest instructor at Martin Taylor's Guitar Retreat in the Catskill Mountains of New York. In addition to the many memorable musical moments, the week was spent in great company, dining on exquisite meals, and taking in great weather and scenery.

Although I enjoyed sharing some of my musical knowledge and expertise, I also savored many benefits myself during the experience. What follows are a few highlights.

The Importance of "Getting It Away From It All"

"Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind." - Seneca

There was NO cell signal at the Full Moon Resort in Big Indian, New York. I spent the entire week unplugged and away from my phone!

If you're like me, you love the work you do. You're enrolled and invested in it. You engage with it daily with discipline and determination. It's easy to become so thoroughly absorbed that it's difficult to see the forest for the trees. You may find yourself caught up in...

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

inspiration 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 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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Those who can, do. Those who think others can too, teach.

inspiration May 22, 2016

I found this phrase on the tag of a teabag while enjoying a cup that Lisa prepared for me. It has become the foundation of my teaching philosophy and practice, not to mention my response to those who believe that those who can, do while those who can’t, teach (usually credited to George Bernard Shaw).

Unfortunately some teachers validate the later claim. I know I’ve inherited many of their causalities. Students who experienced incompetent instructors or, more frightening, badgering, bullying, and worse by teachers describing themselves as 'demanding.' I have been on the receiving end of both ends of the bad teacher spectrum. Fortunately, I’ve also had some really great teachers who were knowledgeable, competent, patient, and encouraging. They are my role models.

Teachers leave a lasting legacy in the students they teach and the communities they serve. Good teachers honor and respect not only their craft but those that entrust...

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