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Archive for June, 2010

Visualizing your musical goals and writing them down is a sure-fire way to optimize your chances of making them happen. This is not some new age mumbo jumbo, but a statistically proven fact.
Whether you write them in the sand, on your hand, or in a journal….get started now!!!!
Here is an AMAZING artcle from arielpublicity.com that was written at the beginning of 2010 but is good advice at any time of year:

From Ariel’s Blog:

What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School (a bestselling book) talks about a research study that was conducted at Harvard between 1979 and 1989:

“In 1979, the MBA graduates were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?”

Only 3 percent had clear written goals and action plans to achieve them.

Thirteen percent of the graduates had goals, but they were not in writing.

The other 84 percent had no specific goals at all.

In 1989, a decade later, the researchers again interviewed the students of that class. Surprisingly, they discovered that the 13 percent, who had goals that were not in writing, were earning on average twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all.

The truly amazing finding was that the 3 percent of students, who had written, clear goals when they left Harvard, were earning over ten times as much, on average, as the other 97 percent together.

There are many other similar recorded research studies that seem to conclude with approximately the same results – that only 3 percent of people set clear, written goals and action plans for their achievement.

These people clearly achieve far more success and happiness in their lives and careers than others. Goal setting ability is the skill that separates these top performers from the rest.”

(I quoted this from an article written by John Llyod).

So – really?

You are still NOT going to write down your goals?

This article is designed to assist you in creating a personal roadmap for achieving what you would like with your musical career this coming year, whether you consider music your hobby or you are making a full-time living from it.

Here are my tips to you and a roadmap to follow for planning your 2010 (and beyond) goals

Goal Achieving TIP # 1:

THIS IS A GAME YOU CAN CHANGE THE RULES AS YOU GO

Musicians tend to be perfectionists – I know this because I have spent my entire adult life working with musicians. My dear musicians take note: Goals are never written in stone and they are not the word of the almighty! They should be looked at as beacons and guiding points for you to keep yourself on track along your musical journey.

I would not recommend changing them every week but the music industry is changing so rapidly it’s hard to know what goals are reachable in this landscape. So if the course of the year your goals change its OK to cross one off or modify another or start the game again and write new ones down as you go.

Goal Achieving TIP #2:

DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP!

You will have your days where you may get frustrated, and you may start to crucify and criticize yourself when you are not achieving goals as fast as you want them. (sound familiar?)

Self-criticism will interfere directly with achieving your goals and dreams. So, the next time you are making yourself wrong for the fact that only 20 people showed up at your last gig or railing against yourself because your couldn’t hear yourself in the monitors try to turn that around immediately, Take a step back and acknowledge the good, and instead celebrate your wins, no matter how small.

Goal Achieving TIP #3:

WRITE DOWN 5 SUCCESSES EACH DAY

I’m inviting you to write down five little victories a day for this entire year. I learned this powerful technique from T. Harv Eker, who says that you should write down five positive things you do every single day. Once you start getting into this habit, you are training yourself to put the focus on the positive and get your brain to stop being so self-critical.

So put a notebook in your gig bag or next to your bed.

Each day write down 5 things. Make one or two of them music or band related.

Here are some examples:

1. Went to gym.
2. Started writing lyrics to a new song
3. Called three clubs for potential booking.
4. Did laundry.
5. Reached out to a music blogger who will love my music.
6. Made dinner for my boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/kids/ friends (etc).
Right now, stop what you’re doing and write down five tiny successes you had today and yesterday.

YOUR GOALS – SETTING THE STAGE:

Step 1:

IDENTIFY & WRITE DOWN YOUR FOCUS AREAS

Here is a list of some areas you may want your goals focus on.

Skip the areas that do not resonate with you and start by identifying what areas your goals will center around.

Think big, be unreasonable, and don’t hold yourself back.

Building Your Brand:

Honing your unique selling points

Color Scheme

Logo

15 second pitch

Photo shoot

New website

New album

Video creation

Personal health so your performance is better – exercise, eating etc.

Marketing:

What will you do this year for your overall marketing plan?

PR – Traditional print media

PR – online media

PR – TV and videos

Radio campaign

Have friends or family members help you

Communicating:

How many people should be added to your e-mail list each month?

Monthly newsletter

Posters

Flyers

Social Media Strategies:

MySpace page reskin

Twitter stream

Facebook Fan page

Facebook ad campaign

Photo sharing

Last.fm

Blogging

Podcasting

YouTube channel

LinkedIn profile

Artist Data profile

Booking:

Local gigs

Number of people at your next gig

Touring regionally

Touring nationally

Touring internationally

Opening for who?

Getting a booking agent

Getting a college agent

Releasing Music:

Are you recording an album this year?

Who are you writing songs with?

Full Length vs. EP ?

Live album

Who is your dream producer?

Where are you recording?

Money:

How much money you would like to earn?

What will you spend?

Buying a new instrument?

Number of CDs you would like to sell

Film and TV placements.

Number of downloads you would like to sell

Getting a manager

Step Two:

START WRITING

Now that you have identified them, I suggest you write in pen using paper. Your intention is different when it comes from a pen and not from a computer. The act of writing it down accesses a different part of your brain.

Step Three:

MASTER TECHNIQUES FOR WRITING GOALS DOWN

&TAKE STEPS TO GET CLOSER TO THEM

Be clear: Give dates and as much detail as you can

Write each goal as if it’s already happening

Your goals should involve you and only you (they can’t be contingent on someone else)

Make them realistically achievable

Make daily lists of what you need to do to get your goals met – the night before! Do the hardest thing first in the morning- don’t procrastinate.

Do something everyday that moves you towards one of your goals (your list of 5 successes will help with this)

Delegate the little activities that waste your valuable time to other people (you would be amazed what you could do with 4 hours it takes to clean your house).

Build a TEAM to help you!! Get an intern or two – go to entertainmentcareers.net and post as an employer seeking interns – you will be amazed at how many bright young people would like to get their feet wet in the business.

If you don’t have an office to accommodate them that’s OK, Meet 1X per week at a coffee shop and / or have your intern work remotely from home.

Step Four:

MAKE ONE GOAL HAPPEN ASAP

Start with the easiest one on your list and give it two to four weeks and a deadline and then write exactly the deadline in the present tense, like this:

By February 15th, 2010, I will have added 25 new quality friends to my Facebook Fan page.

Now, go back and put dates on every single goal that you have written

Step Five:

MAKE THEM LOOK PRETTY

& HANG THEM WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM EVERYDAY

I highly recommend re-writing your goals neatly on paper. Use colored pens or crayons and illustrate them.

Hang them in a place where you can see them everyday.

Remember, if your goals change, that’s okay. Just cross one off and add a new one.

You are the one in charge of your goals.

Here’s to your success in 2010!

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“Paint pictures with sound. First, find your white—the deepest, roundest sound you can play on the guitar. Then, find your black—which is the most extreme tonal difference from white you can play. Now, just pick the note where you’ve got white, pick it where you’ve got black, and then find all those colors in between. Get those colors down, and you’ll be able to express almost any emotion on the guitar.

—Les Paul

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I have gotten hundreds of letters asking for advice on how to pick a first guitar. My overiding advice is to pick the one that most speaks to your heart. You know…..like that pair of red converse tennis shoes that make you feel like ANYTHING is possible when you slip them on your feet!!!! You will be much more likely to pick a guitar up and practice if you have an emotional attachment to it. That being said, there are many practical considerations that can be overwhelming to a first time player without guidance. The following article from Firstguitar.com is a a very comprehensive resource.

Choosing the Right Guitar Part 1

Most importantly, only select a guitar you know is fully inspected and adjusted for easy playability, accuracy in tuning, intonation and tone production.

Many important issues rest on the quality and playability of your instrument. Always get the facts. Ask what has been done to make the instrument easy to play. There is no greater impedance to progress, developing proper technique and the enjoyment of learning to play than a poorly constructed instrument or one that is not correctly set up.

Choose the kind of guitar that interests you the most. This way you will be more motivated to play.

Many people mistakenly purchase an inexpensive acoustic guitar when they may really want an electric guitar. Often they are afraid they or their child will not stick with it. This is almost like buying a guarantee for failure. A cheaply made acoustic guitar will certainly lead you to quit because it is physically just too hard to play and coupled with the fact its not what you really wanted in the first place. Also, the technical approach for the electric, acoustic or classical guitar is different. In other words, if you master the acoustic guitar it will not necessarily translate well to the electric guitar. The next time you go to a concert or watch videos of your favorite bands and performers, notice the technical and musical way the instruments are being played is not the same when an acoustic guitar is being played and when a electric guitar is being played. The chords, notes and scales may look the same but the approach to playing the chords, notes and scales is different. Choose the kind of guitar you are most interested in playing.

Select the right size guitar.

This is especially true for children. A guitar that is too large will make it difficult for your child to make the proper reach with both the right and left hands. Having their arm as high as their shoulder to reach over the guitar can become uncomfortable and at worst painful. Over reaching for the first fret puts them at a great technical disadvantage because their muscles are already stretched out making it difficult to properly move their fingers on the fingerboard. Generally, adults are comfortable with full size guitars.

Select a guitar that does not sell at the bottom of the price barrel.

This may seem a little difficult without giving you numbers but the old adage is almost always true, “You get what you pay for”. Sometimes you even get less. As a general rule, cheaply made guitars are not really playable or adjustable. They are not worth your time or money.

Avoid guitars and packages that promise to be a tremendous value for an amazingly low price.

The old saying,“ If it sounds to good to be true, it probable is”, is a good guide. You should see red flags when presented with guitar packages valued at $800.00 and selling for only $199.00. The difference between the value and the selling price is too great. If it sells for $199.00 then that’s about what it may be worth but not worth buying. The “$800.00 value package” would have to contain cheaply made products to only sell for $199.00. A $289.00 package at $199.00 is a much more realistic price.

Do not fall into the so-called major “Brand Name” trap.

Most major brand name companies compete with minor brand name companies for the entry and intermediate level player. Smaller brand name companies rely less on media advertising and more on dealer support and knowledge. These companies may even specialize in the entry and intermediate entry levels where as the major brands specialty is higher priced professional instruments. Obviously the cost of media advertising is included in the overall cost of the instrument. You may end up paying more for the brand name while the quality is the same or paying a competitive price for an instrument of less quality. A brand name guitar does not guarantee it to be a better guitar. As a side note, many major brand guitar makers provide free guitars to recording artist to use in concert, which is a very effective marketing tool. The fans that play guitar or want to begin playing the guitar associate the name brand with their favorite performers, not realizing that the expensive instruments they use share very little (except the name) with the entry level models.

Select a guitar with a finish and color you enjoy.

Having a guitar that not only plays and sounds well but also appeals to you visually can greatly contribute to your motivation to play and practice.

Be sure to include an electronic tuner when you select your guitar.

A tuner is about as important as having picks and strings. Keeping your guitar tuned to standard pitch is important for several reasons. First, guitars are manufactured and set-up to withstand the tension of standard pitch, which produces the best musical tone. Second, guitars are initially set-up and adjusted for standard pitch and third, standard pitch is the musical standard for most instruments. If your guitar is tuned too high above standard pitch the excessive tension can damage your instrument and at the very least break your strings. As opposed to excessively high tension, allowing your guitar to fall too far below standard pitch can cause the neck to move backward resulting in unacceptable string buzz against the frets. This can usually be remedied by tuning back to standard pitch and if necessary, by re-adjusting the truss rod.

A guitar tuner contributes to ear training

But perhaps most importantly, a guitar tuner actually helps you develop your musical ear much more quickly than learning to tune by ear alone. A guitar tuner saves valuable time and frustration so you can stay focused on your music. Learning to tune your guitar by ear is a trial and error method largely due to the fact the ear has not been trained to selectively detect slight pitch changes between matching tones during the tuning process. Often your guitar will seem reasonably tuned when in fact it may not be. You may not even tune your guitar as often because it seems OK. The problem is your ear becomes accustomed to less than adequate tuning which prolongs your ear training development. When you use a tuner daily your ear quickly becomes accustomed to accurate tuning and you are more apt to notice when your guitar is even slightly out of tune. As a result your ears develop much more quickly.

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I get a lot of letters from beginning Luna players asking for advice. This list, courtesy of http://www.learn-acoustic-guitar.com, has lots of good, overall sggestions. The main thing is to do what you love (and love what you do!)
Enjoy!

1 – Learn how to play the acoustic guitar with both your fingers and your pick. Practice using both. This will make you a more versatile player.
2 – Learn how to use a capo. A capo is a clamp that you can apply to different frets of your guitar to change the pitch. You will definitely need to become familiar with this wonderful tool. If you do not already own one, head out to your local music store and buy one today.
3 – Make sure you choose the right guitar for your size. Guitars come in different sizes from classic to jumbo. It is very important that you find a guitar size that you are comfortable playing.
4 – Learn how to change your strings and change them often. If you do not know how to change your guitar strings yet, stop what you are doing and search for articles and videos online right now. This is very important.
5 – Wash your hands before you play and clean your strings after you play. Dirt and oils from your fingers and hands can wear down your strings.
6 – Build up those calluses. Many beginners complain of pain in their fingertips when first starting out. This is normal and will go away after you have been playing for a little while and start to form calluses. The more often you practice the faster you will build up calluses.
7 – Learn how to tune your guitar. Make sure your guitar is in tune before you start every practice session. Tuning your guitar is really quite easy. You can either purchase one of those small battery powered guitar tuners, or you can tune your guitar online. Just do a search at your favorite search engine using the key phrase “online guitar tuner” and you will find many helpful sites on this topic.
8 – Use YouTube to find free acoustic guitar lessons. They have a huge variety.
9 – Find a good guitar teacher. While it is possible to learn at your own pace at home using free lessons online, books and home study courses, nothing will replace a guitar teacher. A guitar teacher will help keep you from forming bad guitar playing habits and praise you when you are making progress.
10 – Stretch and warm up your hands and fingers before each playing session. This is important. Proper warm up and stretching exercises are essential in helping you avoid injury and improving your guitar playing. For more information on stretching and warm up exercises, do a search on Google using the key phrase: “guitar warm up”. You will find plenty of tutorials on this subject.
11 – Learn music theory. I know music theory can be boring and difficult, but it is essential learning if you want to become a good guitar player.
12 – Learn about the parts of your guitar. Spend as much time as possible familiarizing yourself with all the various parts of your guitar and how it is constructed.
13 – Learn how to practice. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many guitarists are not practicing correctly. There is definitely a right and a wrong way to practice. Make sure you understand how to make the best out of your practice sessions.
14 – Keep your finger nails on your fretting hand trimmed. Your fingernails on your fretting hand must be kept short. If not, they will most certainly make playing more difficult as they will prevent your fingers from pushing down the strings properly.
15 – Don’t over do it. If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort during your playing or practice session, then stop and take a break.
16 – Try and learn something new. If you continually do the same thing, day after day, then your guitar playing will become stagnant and you will not progress.
17 – Join discussion forums online. Search for guitar discussion forums online and begin discussions with experienced and professional guitarists.
18 – Listen to a variety of different music. Not just your favorite styles either. You would be surprised at how much this can influence your guitar playing.
19 – Learn alternate ways to tune your guitar. Not every song is played in standard tuning.
20 – Go to live performances. This will give you a chance to get up close and personal with the musicians enabling you to see first hand how a professional plays.

(photo courtesy of Hugo Chisholm)

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Musicians can run this state better than politicians. We won’t get a lot done in the mornings, but we’ll work late and be honest.” ~ Kinky Friedman

Given the recent tragic events unfolding in the Gulf, it is more important than ever that musicians come together as the “loud voice for so many quiet hearts” as Billy Joel so aptly describes what musicians are to the world. A song that comes to mind for me right now is Marvin Gaye’s 1971 classic anthem, “Mercy Mercy Me”. Marvin sang “things ain’t what they used to be”, and here in Florida we are wondering if they will ever be the same in our lifetime. If you or any musician’s you know are out there playing events for Gulf restoration, we would love to hear about it.

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(courtesy of Gerald Klickstein, The Musician’s Way )

Do you ever dodge your creative work? Say, your practice time arrives, and you race off to do some chore. It might be a chore that you detest, but now it calls to you. Then, instead of refining your music, you start cleaning the house or doing whatever.

If that scenario sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Artists of every sort contend with avoidant behaviors. Why do we sidestep doing what we love? The answer often stems from the nature of creativity.

When we practice, write, or otherwise innovate, we stretch our limits. We strive.

But striving takes us into the unknown, and that brings uncertainty. We question whether a lyric will fly, a promotion will succeed, or a solo will be ready in time for a show.

If the uncertainty of creating unsettles us, then, to escape the discomfort, we might seek refuge in a mindless task: “This really needs doing,” we’ll congratulate ourselves as we reach for the mop.

Fortunately, there’s an antidote to avoidance.

First we have to notice an avoidant thought before we fall under its spell. Next we must act to do what we intend.

For instance, not long ago I was heading home to practice a demanding piece, and as I neared my front door I spotted some overgrown bushes: “I should put on my boots and cut those back,” I reasoned. (By the way, I loathe yard work.)

A moment later, as one part of me was sizing up the shrubbery, I caught myself. I recognized the avoidant thought for what it was. I then renewed my passion for the music I was tackling and dashed to my studio and tuned up my guitar. Avoidance avoided.

As I see it, we’re all going to have avoidant thoughts, so we need to keep countermoves handy. Here’s my anti-avoidance formula:

Counter Avoidance
1. Notice an avoidant thought.
2. Dispute it. (Laugh at yourself or just say “no.”)
3. Replace it with an affirmation: “Music feeds my soul.”
4. Act with full intention.

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MuscleTone Records owner and former MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer talks about the nuts and bolts of being self-employed, and the extent of just what that means.

In March 2010, Future of Music Coalition conducted an online survey to gauge the level of health insurance among musicians. The survey found that, of the 1,451 respondents, 33 percent said they do not have health insurance. This is nearly twice the national average of 17 percent uninsured, as estimated by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The Future of Music Coalition is an advocay group dedicated to making musicians aware of their options. You can visit their site here.

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