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Page 6 of 17 pages ‹ First  < 4 5 6 7 8 >  Last ›

Mastery With Effort

I’ve previously recommended Kenny Werner’s Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within, and I still do. I’ve come to a point where I’ve made some decisions about it, though.

I think there’s a lot of useful things in there, but I don’t subscribe to all of it. As a person who doesn’t swim, I don’t like his metaphor about “drowning in the ocean” of sound or music or whatever. Ha ha. More seriously, I don’t buy into his idea of sitting there and watching my hands play and I’m not doing anything at all. I think there’s a balance between it just happening automatically and me directing it. I know when you think too much while you’re playing you lose it, I just think his description errs too much on the side of you not doing it all. But overall, I get his point. It’s about getting your ego out of the way so you can play. Not worrying about it and being in the moment. I think if Werner’s stuff helps a person find a way to that, it’s a good thing. I think his stuff is more positive and useful than not. I also think some of Werner’s techniques, like the learning diamond about how to practice, are good. I agree with his thoughts about the space you should be in when you play. I’ve discussed this with some other musicians, and different people have different ways of getting into the space. I think that is fine. What is important is what works for you. I think Kenny Werner’s stuff can open doors for people, and that’s a good thing.

Thu, 2011 10 06 at 9:00 AM |Permalink for this entry

Steve Jobs 1955 - 2011

Thank you Steve, for the myriad ways you changed the world, and for the way you've inspired us.

Wed, 2011 10 05 at 8:04 PM |Permalink for this entry

The Moment

This is the big one that all the others led to.

All the roads have led me here. All the philosophies, the goo-roos as I like to call them, the books, the nitpickers, and the sign I put up in my studio for a completely different reason.

Shut Up and Play!

When I’m really in the playing and practicing, I can’t do much else. It feels right. One thing music teaches us is about the fleeting nature of… everything. All you have is right now.

Life is a balancing act. With our big human brains, we can remember the past, and think about the future. But, it’s too easy to get stuck in the past and worry about the future. We have to learn to learn from the past without getting stuck in it, and to be ready for the future without worrying about it.

Shut Up and Play!

Playing music is a balancing act too. Too much thought and it crashes and burns, not enough, and, well, I’ve never had that problem.

Shut Up and Play!

Like life, music is balancing just the right amounts of consideration of the past, planning for the future, but being in the moment.

That doesn’t seem so hard, does it?

Wed, 2011 10 05 at 9:00 AM |Permalink for this entry

Did You Say You Might Give Up?

In the midst of all this, and during a discussion I was having over the course of a few days with another musician about it, I got an email newsletter from Cari Cole. Some of the stuff is interesting, applies, others not so much. This week’s email was about commitment. I was reading it and not seeing terribly much that applies to what I’ve been thinking about lately. Then I get to the end. She writes,

So you have an inkling.. a desire is born (rocket of desire, as Abraham-Hicks says). Don’t give up before you start. Just stand behind it – know that if you want it, it can be yours, but not without Effort – a lot of it. And ask yourself the question:

Imagine you are in your Golden Years looking back at your life and you never followed through on your desire to pursue your music. Could you live with that?

Without missing a beat, I immediately thought to myself, “oh god, no!”

So there you go.

Tue, 2011 10 04 at 9:00 AM |Permalink for this entry

Faulty Reasoning

I know that my arguments about the judgments or lack thereof that I have written or will write about in various careers are based on faulty reasoning, or that I have stated them poorly. Whenever you create something, there is always risk if it is to have any value. For example, what do you think the next iPhone will look like? Do you think there will be people who don’t like it, or things about it? Yet, at some point, Apple will have to take a risk and change the design of it.

Closer to home, I have had critiques and one particularly bizarre comment about my web site. I designed that from scratch, roughly basing it on a design of another site that I liked. Yet I put it out there and I am not too attached to the responses I got. The important thing is that I did it.

That’s really the point. I’m not sure why I am so attached to what I do in music. Creating a detachment from that would go a long way towards helping me progress. (Thanks Connie!)

P.S. The bizarre comment about my web site was simply this. “fyi. your beard looks photoshopped on the ‘contact’ page on your website” Here’s the link to the page if you are interested. I see why he thinks that after looking at it, but I would never have thought of that on my own. I mean, beard???

Mon, 2011 10 03 at 12:00 PM |Permalink for this entry


Sometimes, I think about giving this all up.

Yeah, that’s an overreaction.

It really sucks, because of how much I’ve put into it already. But what’s interesting is what I think about doing instead, which is usually programming for iOS (iPhone). I realized what’s appealing about that is the lack of judgement involved in a career like that vs. music. Sure, there is some, but not like we think of with music.

I also came to this realization from another direction. One of the things I’ve been learning about in my recent studies is music theory. I know quite a bit about it now (though I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface). I find it very interesting and love digging into it. I also often tend to practice a lot of technical stuff even when I have more practical things I should be working on. The reason for both of these is that there is very little judgement in these activities.

What this all means for me is that I need to fight the fear of judgement. There are multiple aspects to this. One is to be detached from those judgements. We have to realize that our worth is not dependent on how well we do things. (I know some may disagree, but this is how I feel or try to feel about it.)

Dr. Wayne Dyer put it this way.

I am a human being, not a human doing. Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you do things in life. You aren’t what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don’t…you aren’t. - Dr. Wayne Dyer

There is also the more practical side of this. How often do people really tell you that you suck? Even when one person does, they’re usually drunk, and no one else agrees.

Lastly, we all need to be kind to ourselves, as Kenny Werner reminds us in his book. Beating yourself up because you messed something up doesn’t really help you. I mean, if you’re going to get anything out of it, do something about it and move on. At least, focus that energy into creating something positive instead of spending it dwelling on what you did wrong.

Mon, 2011 10 03 at 9:00 AM |Permalink for this entry


Emotionally, I often overreact. I’ve known this for a long time. What I did not know was the ways in which this manifested. It’s one thing when I get angry at some stupid thing that doesn’t work correctly or as expected. I will vent about that at the time, but stop and move on. That’s the overreaction that I was aware of.

Recently, I had an incident where something didn’t go well and I got pretty upset and frustrated about it. Then, I overreacted to that overreaction. In other words, I got myself pretty upset about where I was, and then got frustrated with myself about that and wondered if I’m doing the right thing. A pretty good spiral, don’t you think? Once I later realized that the initial reaction was unwarranted, it was pretty easy to see what I had done as far as overreacting.

Now that I realize that I overreact in these situations, it will hopefully be easier for me to catch myself before I fall into that again.

Sun, 2011 10 02 at 9:00 AM |Permalink for this entry

It’s a Frustrating Mess

I’ve been thinking about so much lately that I don’t know where to begin to write. It has been a bit overwhelming. But the cool thing is, I feel like I have gotten somewhere from all this thinking. Well, at least I do right now.

That’s the funny thing about this. One minute or day I’ll feel great, and the next, well, let’s just say I don’t. It goes back and forth. It seems pretty manic, actually. At the moment I am in a good place and I’m trying to stay there. One of the tricks is trying not to be so attached to what happens. More on that in my next post.

Sat, 2011 10 01 at 9:00 AM |Permalink for this entry

No Self Control

Well, maybe a little.

I have seen research that says that surfing the Internet causes our brains to respond like it does to other addictive stimuli. I have no doubt that this is true, because I have seen it in myself. I have had times when I have finished visiting my usual online haunts, and sat there for a moment, wondering where to get more.

Unfortunately, Internet addiction is more like overeating than drug or alcohol addiction, because it is difficult to do completely without the Internet in this day and age. I realize it can be done, but once those lines of communication have been established, it can be a problem to cut them.

In my case, I let surfing get in the way of doing other things, especially practicing and working on music. I would either say “just one more thing before I practice” and then be who knows how long, or I would think of something I wanted to check online while I was practicing and go check it as soon as I hit a stopping point and not go back for a while.

I finally found an application that helps me to stop doing that. It is called SelfControl. It is a Mac application and it is free, but I believe there are similar apps for Windows. It does not work exactly the way I would want, but it will do for now. What I usually do on weekdays is block my Internet access from 9 AM to Noon, and from 1 PM to 4 PM. While the app will let you choose which sites you want to block (such as Facebook, Twitter, your local newspaper), I have it blocking everything, even email.

I have found that this app has helped me stop spending time online and go do other things. The one disappointment is that when I am not using the app, I am just as bad about wasting time online as I was before. Do you think Dr. Drew would admit me as a patient?

Fri, 2011 09 02 at 8:10 AM |Permalink for this entry

Promises Promises

I know I said I’d probably write a post about what happened last week at rehearsals and before the gig, but right now it’s just not coming. I’ve either said as much as I’m going to say about it for now (see the previous post) or I’m processing it subconsciously and thus dealing with it. In fact, I spent so much time talking about it with Lori and thinking about it last week that I’m a little surprised I wrote the post I later pulled at all. I think if I do write about the subject, it will be in the context of another “incident” that triggers it again, or maybe something will happen that should have triggered it but all this processing will allow me to handle it or handle it better.

Next week, rehearsals start up again for Collective Hallucination. The next gig with them is August 12. The timing of that one is a bit of a bummer. Ian Moore is reuniting with his old band for a few shows, and that conflicts with one of the Houston dates he is doing. The other is Thursday the 11th, but I doubt we’ll make that. That’s the nature of being in this business.

I’ll be jamming again with Jeff soon, and Lori may join us. That should be fun. I got together with him a couple of weeks ago. We were both pretty rusty. I’m still somewhat dependent on an external source of rhythm, and because I haven’t touched most of that material since the band broke up, I haven’t tried to develop it in that way. Having Lori there will help if she can join us. I won’t call it a Blue Funk reunion. I’d rather leave it without a name, at least for now. Jams are fun, and that’s what I’m in this for.

Fri, 2011 07 15 at 4:46 PM |Permalink for this entry

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