Lessons about performing, lesson 22: Be Critical of Yourself!

Good morning and welcome to the next entry in the list of rules that aspiring performing musicians should know. We’ve covered a lot of ground and have done so with remarkable speed.

If you’re new, click here and read the whole list of rules – and there’s a lot. The goal of this series is to tell you everything you need to know to give yourself better odds for success.

There’s a lot to it, a lot of things that people don’t realize or think about. It’s not easy and the chances of grand success are pretty slim. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try – nor does it mean you have to be a grand success in order to continue.

There’s many reasons to perform, and some of them are pretty noble. Some just want to share the music, to make people smile, to give people a reason to dance, or even just do it for the free beer. Whatever your goals are, you still need to feed yourself.

And that’s what this series is about. It’s about telling you how to do this as a professional and, ideally, as a sole source of income. In other words, how to make a career out of being a professional musician.

It takes work, continued study, and an effort to continually improve. Continue reading “Lessons about performing, lesson 22: Be Critical of Yourself!”

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Things look very different from the stage, part 4.5…

Once again, I’m not sure who I write these for – nor what their purpose really is. But, seeing as I’m awake, I am going to write this and hope that it sends some sort of message.

Warning: This is likely to be quite long because, umm… Reasons! Yeah, reasons.

As I return to the stage, having spent remarkably little time on one for the past decade, I find myself being reminded of many things. As I’m pretty sure that my age dictates that I insist this be my last grand adventure with a regularly playing band, I sometimes find myself staring into the great abyss that is my past.

And I wonder… I wonder what could have been?

For those that don’t know, this is my second time where I’ve had a band that was mine. I’ve been in many bands, but as a band member. This time, I’m absolutely the leader – and this is not the first time I’ve been in this role.

In fact, my first time was in the mid-1970s and we failed miserably. As the band leader, it was my responsibility and I am accountable for that failing. You’ll actually have a pretty good understanding of the story if you’ve ever heard Neil Young’s ‘Needle and the Damage Done.’

It was then that I lost my recording contract, my band, and my heart. It was then that music had changed for me, forever. But, what if it hadn’t? What if I’d stuck it out? What if I’d formed a different band? What if I’d tried harder?

Meh… Instead, I drove back across the country and dropped off my former bandmates at various locations, returned to visit my parents, and signed up for the United States Marine Corps. That’d turn out to be a pretty good decision, but my views towards music were irrevocably altered.

What had once been a passion for creating new music would become a passion for faithful replication of music. What had been a pretty relaxed view would form into the semi-disciplined self you see today. What had been a grand adventure of discovery was now turned into rote.

I don’t regret that but I think that’s the period where I’d say, “I sold out.”

I no longer gave two shits about making new music, saying something new, and inviting people to understand me. I cared about playing music as a source of income – and playing for myself. I’d not seriously (and publicly) perform again for years, and then I’d only do it when I’d reached the point where I needed the money.

Which brings me to this! (See? I got this intro shit figured out!)
Continue reading “Things look very different from the stage, part 4.5…”

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