“What Does It Get You?”

(Please note: while this is a repost from GuitArchitecture.org – the underlying observation is still the same – even if the Nickleback concert mentioned is from last year).

I’d like to talk a little bit about vehemence as criticism and the web.

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I’ve been exposed to a LOT of anger and negativity on the web recently and while it’s probably no more than usual but it’s still enough of a concentration that it’s disturbing to me.

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Article A: “theJoshGross”

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This showed up on a friend of mine’s FB feed with the caption “ouch!”

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I’m not a fan of Nickelback – but this is just lame.

This is supposed to be a pre-concert promotion, and instead becomes another nail in the coffin for print journalism.  After all, if newspapers are just going to print what reads like a glorified blog rant,  we don’t really need them as we already have an internet for snarky posts.

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Nickleback is making a living playing music that they want to play, which is the goal of almost every other musician I know.  And people are buying their music and going to their shows (in very big venues).

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How is crapping on their success or their fans cool?

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It isn’t.

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This is another example of some people believing that the internet is always the great equalizer, when the reality is that sometimes it’s the great diminisher.  Despite the author’s efforts, this review will galvanize the resolve of the band’s fans and will get other people to check out Nickleback online to see what the hubbub is all about.  The band will ultimately end up with a stronger fan base as a result of it.

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Heckler

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I don’t know how many of you have seen Jamie Kennedy’s Heckler film (it’s currently streaming on Netflix if you haven’t.)  There are certainly things in the film that are easy to dismiss, but if you dig your nails under the veneer, there’s a lot being said about art, opinions, the internet and contemporary criticism that are directly applicable to being any kind of artist (especially a musician).
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Rob Zombie is featured in one part of the film and shares the following anecdote:

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[The] first review that I remember getting with my band back in the day was, ‘This is the worst band ever.’ And the funniest thing…what turned in my mind back then 20 years ago, was that I’d read it and see the person’s name and go, ‘Wow.  That guy must be really cool and smart and hip…and I’m a F*ckin’ jackass.”  And then I met the guy and I’m like, “That f*ckin’ loser?”

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False entitlement and vindictiveness

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“I do think critics have changed from when I was first aware of them.   They seem to, earlier, have a sense of humility.  I think, like in so many place in society, there’s just too much of their ego.”

– Bill Maher – Heckler.

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There’s a huge difference between criticism and just being vindictive.  Heckler has an early scene where Jamie brings two guys backstage to ask about their “criticism” of the show.

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Heckler A: Umm…Where do you start? I mean….that was embarrassing to say the least.

Jamie Kennedy: How is that embarrassing?

HA:   It’s kind of hard to watch that kind of crash and burn.

JK:  What do you do?

HA: I’m an assistant to someone that has a lot of kids…

JK: So you’re a baby sitter?

HA:  Yeah…kind of.

JK: What do you know about comedy baby sitter?

HA: I like things that are funny.  I mean…

JK:  What makes you laugh?  F*cking baby farts?

HA: No…I mean…I would have rather heard that in your show.  But I would have rather sat through a Creed concert than that.

JK: You have f*cking balls of steel.

HA: Sorry but I mean…when you see someone just f*cking up and ruining everything, and you paid money to see it don’t you want to kind of say, ‘What the f*ck are you doing?’

JK: Can’t you have like any constructive criticism?

HA:  You want me to tell you like different jokes?

JK: NO!  Why are you giving me your opinion?  Because you want me to get better or because you want to just feel like, ‘Yeah f*ck you!’?

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Bingo.
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That hit the nail on the head.

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That’s about 50% of the forum posts I come across and about 30% of the FB threads I see lately.  It seems to be fueled by a bizarre sense of entitlement that seems to ask, “how DARE you expose me to that?”  These people then feel justified in going off on things 1.  because their delicate sensibilities have been overturned and 2. because they’re not held accountable for their actions.

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(One of the greatest moments in Heckler, btw, is when director Uwe Boll “invites” a number of critics who have trashed his work up to Canada to box him in a one-round exhibition match.  The critics that go talk all sorts of trash about his movies, and then the film cuts to Boll feeding all of them their faces in the ring.  The sight of one reviewer vomiting on the street post-fight while wearing a white shirt with “Hi mom” scrawled on it  was somehow incredibly satisfying and I think it was because these people finally had to be held accountable for what they said.)

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In the quote above with Jamie, I think he’s being a little thin-skinned (it’s also understandable given that this is getting caught on film after he just did a show).  I don’t think that you need to be a comedian to know what you find funny, but without every stepping on a stage and doing 15 minutes of comedy in front of a live audience, you’re not going to be able to give any kind of constructive criticism about what they’re doing wrong, other than say, “that wasn’t funny.”

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What I want to talk about is the anger behind this.  The righteous indignation that is required to completely eviscerate a band or player.

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For people who identify with the article or the quotes above, let me ask one question:

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What does being angry about that get you?

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Does it make you a better person?

Does it improve the lives of those around you?

or does it just make you angrier?

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Because, as John Lydon said, “Anger is an energy”

but it’s an energy that  feeds off of you.  

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(There is a lot in the world to be angry about, and for a number of those things, anger is the only appropriate emotion.  I just don’t happen to think that other people’s artistic output is one of those things.)

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Me and Lord Basho down by the Schoolyard

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People who know me in any capacity will probably tell you that I have some strong opinions about things and am not shy about verbalizing them.

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What many of those people don’t know, is that I had a major philosophical shift over the last 10 years that resulted in some behavioral changes as well.  Part of that stems from the passing of my father’s father.

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When I grew up, my grandfather probably loomed over me larger than anyone else in my life.  A large, loud and intimidating man,  he worked the first shift at GE in Schenectady, NY and then drove home to Mayfield to work at the Driftwood, the bar/beach that he owned and operated, until close for over 20 years.

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As physically intimidating and forceful as he was (in his 60’s, I once watched him dead lift an engine block out of a car and put it on a picnic table next to him to work on it (nearly breaking the table).  “It’s heavier than I remember”, he dead panned to me.) the disconcerting thing was that I got to know him in his “mellow years”.  During my teenage years, I would meet friends of his who would pull me aside and tell me that they couldn’t believe how mellow he’d gotten.  When I said that he didn’t seem very mellow to me, they would tell me various Leland stories like the one where he broke up a large biker fight in his parking lot by himself with a baseball bat.

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There were dozens of these stories, and they were all true.  My father referred to him once as, “a brutal man from a brutal time”.   Amongst his many professions, my grandfather was an undefeated amateur boxer who did multiple tours of NY in his youth, “I fought mostly’ rubes.   Big farm boys with thick arms and glass jaws.”  and stopped fighting because, “sooner or later you’ll take a hit and I was vain about keeping my looks”.  As a kid in upstate NY, I was in awe of him.

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Around this same time, I was fascinated by the Samurai and codes of honor and read everything I could get my hands on.  And hidden in all of the research I was doing, I found this pearl about violence that would ultimately resonate with me in a big way from Lord Basho:

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“Show me the man of violence who comes to a good end, and I will take him as my master.”

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Sadly, in the end this was true for my grandfather as well.  He had been ill for some time, but when my  father showed me a photo of him right before he had died, I was unable to mentally reconcile my memory of the man with the spectral figure I was looking at.

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The ravages of time (along with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s) had reduced him to a husk of his former self.  With a shock of white hair and his skeletal frame barely covered by a bathrobe attempting to shield his grey skin, his face was a mixture of confusion and fear.  He had no idea where he was or what was going on, and the glint of his eye (sometimes from mischief and sometime from anger), was now replaced with a dull terror.

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As my father showed me this photo, all I could think about was the Lord Basho quote.

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It didn’t end well for that guy, and to me,  he was superman.

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I started thinking about how I conducted myself and there were a lot of moments that didn’t hold up well under scrutiny.  I realized that a lot of that anger was just resentment.  I resented successful people who I didn’t think were talented.  I resented people who played effortlessly and never seemed to work at it and what wasn’t resentment was fear and insecurity.  I wasn’t sure that I was good enough or talented enough, or that I was making the right decision.

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I still had some childish thoughts that I was working from.

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So I decided to grow up.

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I worked on eliminating that nonsense and ultimately, I started developing strength through self-awareness and empathy.

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The more I learned about the bands I didn’t think were talented, the more I saw that they were talented in other ways and had worked hard to get where they were.  It also made me realize that I only saw one side to every story, and that no story in the real world works that way.  Beyond that, I realized that their journey had nothing to do with mine.

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When I took responsibility for my path, I stopped being emotionally tied to what other people were doing. (And if you have to go out of your way to sh*t on someone, you have become emotionally tied to what they’re doing.)

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You can travel on anger,

but if anger is your only fuel, you won’t get very far.

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And again, what I’m discussing here is vehemence rather than criticism.

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I think it’s important to remain critical of things that you experience.  All art work is not good.  All music is not good.  But I recommend that if you find something you don’t like, take a moment to determine what it is that you don’t like about it and use it to further develop your own aesthetic rather than trying to tear someone else down.

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If you don’t like bands, don’t listen to them.

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If you’re going to rage against something, rage against something worthwhile.  But despite what you may have been taught, sh*tting on other musicians for what they do doesn’t make you cooler.  It just makes you smaller.

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As always, thanks for reading.

-SC

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Podcast #2 – Should You Go To Music School? (Answered By Someone Who Did Go – Twice)

Hello everyone!  As promised, here’s a stream of the new Guit-A-Grip podcast:

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/guitagrip/01_Guit-A-Grip_Podcast_Episode_2.mp3]

(Once again – this podcast was recorded in the same marathon session as the first one and there’s some weird gain issues going on.  So it’s a little gritty sounding on headphones and only slightly more forgiving though speakers – this will be fixed by podcast #4 – but in the meantime my apologies for the crunchy vocals.)

Man O-man!

This was such a deep topic and deserving of way more detail than my little 1/2 hour exploration.  In light of this travesty of brevity and over simplification I need to add a few basic points that will hopefully fill in the spaces.

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Guit-A-Grip Episode #2 – Show Notes

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The Flippant Answer (and the lengthy explanation)

I don’t want to cop out by answering this question initially with a maybe, but it really is situational.  No matter how well designed the curriculum is and how well developed the facilities are, there is no “one size fits all” solution.  Some people are going to thrive in   settings that other people will be miserable in.  But I hope the podcast addresses some of the economic realities of what people are getting into when they go to school, the realities of the job prospects when they leave school and the real reason to go to school (it’s as much about the why of your development as it is about developing the skill set of how you’ll develop).

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The Community College Oversight

At an early point in the podcast, I set aside the issue of public/community colleges for private ones but I misspoke my motivation why.  Private ones are not necessarily where everyone seems to go, but they are the ones that seem to get the most attention in the public eye.

The only questions behind going to any college are questions of intent/purpose and long term cost. Since the cost behind going to state schools (for in state residents) is often a fraction of what private schools cost – I set state schools aside as the issues for or against going to one are largely the same.  So while there are large differences, from a motivational standpoint the issues are largely the same.

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The sideman / private teacher money breakdown

At the 12:00 mark or so is yet another moment of me misspeaking.  I said that working as a side man that you’d likely be viewed as an independent artist – but I meant to say, “independent contractor”.  Both may be true but the independent contractor will have much larger financial implications down the road.

I quoted 40% for Independent contractor taxes – which is higher than standard with holding for an independent contractor – but is not completely outrageous as in addition to sate and federal tax withholdings – the additional taxes on self-employment put you in a much different tax bracket if you’re not writing everything off.

For example, for a $15/Hour independent contractor vs a $12/Hour for payroll employee, the take home pay after taxes will be about $9.75/hour for the independent contractor and (depending on withholdings) just below $10/hour for the payroll employee.

If you have a manager, agent or lawyer (and if you’re making $1500 a week as a side man it’s very likely that you have at least one of those people) – your expenses will have you holding back closer to 40% (if not more).  People filing Section C on their 1040’s are more likely to get audited and hopefully you’re paying quarterlies so you don’t get NAILED at the end of the year.

In other words 40% isn’t completely outrageous as a figure but it is high.  (FYI – When I paid taxes and penalties early on as an independent contractor for teaching at a music store my take home percentage of original income was closer to 50% all in.)

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Networking – or emphasizing a big reason to go

In a speech I used to give entering art students I used to say something like this on orientation,

“Look around at the people around you – because these are the people you are going to rely on for the rest of your career.  These are the people who are going to throw gigs and referrals your way.  These are the people who are going to give you a couch to crash on when you’re in town and will lead you to the other connections that you need to make to succeed as an entrepreneur.  So get to know these people.  Make introductions, get to know what people do an work with the best people you can.”

The irony is that the value of this lesson is generally only learned years later and it’s the one that (generally) no one will teach you.

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Expanding your aesthetic

This is one thing I largely skipped in this podcast.  One huge thing that I got out of college was exposure to a lot of things that I didn’t know about before.  I didn’t like everything I was exposed to, but the process of understanding why I didn’t like those things completely evolved my aesthetic.  You don’t have to go to a formalized school setting to have that happen – but when you have the right teacher to guide you and help you understand what to look for you’re going to get access to insights that would have ben much more difficult on your own.

The Faculty

I skipped this in the podcast entirely as I think it’s a given that you’re going to get access to professional faculty – but realize that you are going to probably find a few amazing teachers, some so-so teachers and some people who are just uninspired.  I had a few faculty members in my undergrad who made the material so listless that I couldn’t engage it either.  Having said that, there were some faculty in my undergrad were so amazing that it made up for the bad experiences (I should mention that almost all of the music faculty at CalArts I came into contact with at CalArts fall into the inspired category.)  But teachers can only teach if the student is willing to learn, and while every student may be present, without having a vested interest in the lesson and/or the subject matter – they may not be ready to learn.

Nothing says you have to do it at 18.

Boy, that was the biggest lesson I learned (and thanks to Reg Bloor for reminding me about that lesson!) I really was not in the headspace for my undergrad experience.  I’m really happy I did it for a number of reasons, but academically it was a wash for me.

Again, I was someone who read a lot – but knew very little.  I might have come across as mature and articulate on a good day, but none of it was based on knowledge of anything (and certainly not anything musical).  I got so much more out of my graduate experience years later just because I had a little living under my belt and knew what I wanted to get out of it (although that didn’t work out exactly as planned – more on that later).

Get the dumb stuff out of your system and then if you want to go to school – you’ll have a more solid reason for doing so (and a better chance of getting a deeper return on your investment).  Some people get the dumb stuff out of their system before they’re 16.  It didn’t happen for me until well after my college days.

A quote sometimes attributed to Mark Twain:

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”

When I was 18, an older version of myself traveling back in time to counsel me could not have talked me out of going to music school.  I would have done anything to go there.

A real key is to have passion and determination so take any positive or negative aspects of the experience with a grain of salt.  If you look at the downsides and say, “I don’t care.  I’m going to do what I have to do.” then you’re ready to go.  There’s a lot to be said for sheer determination and while that can get you somewhere – it generally won’t get you to your final destination on it’s own.

The secret agenda

This podcast has as much to do with the current state of the industry, as it does the current economics of going to school but really, it’s just another examination of understanding the why behind taking any course of action to work in harmony with the how.

As always, thanks for reading and listening!  A much shorter podcast is on the way next week!

Part three next week is the last of the weird initial edit/recording sessions so better sounding audio is on it’s way!

Finally, If you like the podcast please let me know. If you really like it – leaving a rating on iTunes would be really appreciated.

Thanks again!

-SC

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  • or you can right click here to download it.

The Important Things In Life Are The Things You Do

This is The Grendel:

Grendel for web

He just turned 14.  I’ve had him for 10 or 11 years.  I’ve just found out that he won’t make it to 15.  He probably won’t see much of 14 even.  He’s very very ill and the vet has informed us that even the most aggressive treatment will mean the difference between his leaving this form between any moment and a few months from now.

It’s heartbreaking to me.  After a decade, I could not love a son more than The Grendel.  I’d set every guitar I own on fire if it would make him better without a moment’s hesitation.

But it won’t.

When I lived in Sylmar, my cat O-man died from old age.  And that was hard.  I buried him in the backyard in my favorite shirt, and I cried like a little boy for a while.

This creature with a plum sized brain taught me so much.  He taught me to be generous and giving.  He taught me to give of myself and to do everything – eating, sleeping, playing – with all the attention and energy available to me.  More than anything, he taught me to be grateful.

Grateful for the time I had with him.  Grateful for the lessons that he taught me.  Grateful for showing me the love I had in my heart and for being someone I could give it to.

I love my guitars but they’re just a tool.  I use them like I’d use a favorite pen – but I’ll never love a guitar like I love The Grendel.

So, now I try to make him comfortable.  I try to give him what I can and try not to cry as Candace takes pictures of him being cute.

There are lines to get under my fingers, songs to record, things to write – but those things will wait.  Those things will still be there tomorrow.  My boy is here today.

The important things in life are the things you do.  Losing weight might be important, but if the comfort of eating a pint of ice cream is more important to you than losing weight guess which one you’re more likely to do.

20 years from now – you won’t remember that thing you saw on YouTube.  You’ll remember the moments that were real.  You’ll remember the warmth of the sun on the back of your neck as you and your beloved are walking towards the perfect skyline.  You’ll remember the freckled lip and the silent meow.

As a musician, you job is to express something and move other people.  To do that you need to develop a lot of skill, but you also need to live a bit to have something to say.  It’s why the 13-year old boy will probably not write the most devastating love song you’ve ever heard – even though he’s convinced that it could not be any heavier.

Having things to say take time, it takes other people and it takes other experiences.

Being a little older you see the balance in keeping both those things in check.

A long time ago, I realized that death gives life meaning.  It’s only in the finite that there is a sense of urgency to accomplish something.  If you had forever to get good at guitar, it wouldn’t mean much because everyone would eventually get good at it.

It saddens me that my boy will eventually be gone but that’s the price of being here and I wouldn’t give up my time with him for anything.

Everybody gets a ticket at birth and at some point, somebody collects the ticket but once you you’re tall enough to get on the ride – you get to determine both the ride and how you interact with it.

It’s a tremendous amount of power.  Use it passionately.  Use it wisely.  Use it to make the world a better place.

For now – I have to go learn whatever lessons The Grendel’s willing to teach me.  New Podcast will be up by Friday.

As always, thanks for reading.

-SC

Tim Ferriss, Martial Arts, Focus And Guitar

Please Note:

This post was originally posted on GuitArchitecture.org and has been moved here as it’s related to Podcast #1.  So if you’re a long-time GuitArchitecture reader – my apologies for the double post.

 

The Four Hour???

In a press tour promoting his new book, The 4-Hour Chef, Tim Ferriss (the author of the 4-Hour Work Week and The 4-Hour Body), made an interesting comment to The Metro paper (underlined emphasis is mine).

What are the common misconceptions of learning?
One of the bigger misconceptions of learning is that many skills take a lifetime to get world-class at, or 10,000 hours to become world-class at. If you want to be Tiger Woods at age 8, you’re going to know you have the potential because you’ll be drawing sketches of people hitting balls with different irons, which he was, instead of pirate ships. But, if you want to be the best in your circle of friends or in the top five percent in the U.S. population at golf, swimming, Spanish, Japanese, whatever it might be, I firmly believe that you can accomplish that in most cases in six months or less. To be functionally fluent in a language, for instance, you need about 1,200 words. If you really train someone well, they can acquire 200 to 300 words a day, which means that in a week they can acquire the vocabulary necessary to speak a language.”

http://www.metro.us/newyork/national/article/1156482–the-art-of-learning

Here’s a related quote from the Amazon page for the book, “WHAT IF YOU COULD BECOME WORLD-CLASS IN ANYTHING IN 6 MONTHS OR LESS?….The 4-Hour Chef isn’t just a cookbook. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure guide to the world of rapid learning.”

This is a competition mentality applied to learning and it’s also a symptom of a key thing that’s wrong with our culture.

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The process of learning something shouldn’t simply be rooted in a desire to  become better at something than the next person, instead, one should engage in the process of learning things to become a better version of oneself.

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Just ask a martial artist.

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Martial Arts

Martial arts originally developed as a survival mechanism.  If you were attacked by a robber or fighting in a battle and could fight better than the person attacking you, having  that skill meant that you had a better chance of getting out alive.

But then someone brought a gun to the party.

Initially, guns took a long time for load and fire and weren’t that accurate so they were more of a long range weapon.  But that changed over time and when it did, hand to hand combat increasingly couldn’t compete with a gun.  An obscure deadly kick that you’ve developed to perfection after years of practice is not going to stop someone just out of range from pulling a trigger (or stop a sniper from taking you out from a foot ball field away).

But did this stop people from learning martial arts?  Not at all.  Martial arts kept going because martial artists recognized that fighting was only one aspect of any martial arts.  In working through the discipline needed to develop those skills, martial artists made themselves better people and better artists.  They focused on training and competition and belts, because there was rarely a need to use it in self defense on the streets.

On a whole, the focus changed from self-defense to self betterment.

I should mention here that Tim Ferriss won a Chinese National Kickboxing championship with relatively minimal training.  Since contestants were disqualified by stepping outside of a box in the fighting area, he won the competition by pushing each of his opponents outside the box to win.

So he won a title, but learned nothing about the art.

In contrast, consider this David Lee Roth story.  On one of his appearances on the Howard Stern show, Roth was asked how many black belts he had and he said (please note – all quotes here are paraphrased), “Well I only have one because I’m only working in one style right now”.  Stern then asked, “But you’ve been doing this for years so how come you only have one belt?” Roth replied, “Well I have a lot of belts from all of the different styles I’ve worked on over the years but I don’t think you can call yourself a black belt in Kung-Fu if you haven’t done it in a while.”

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Semantics

I should mention that I’ve read The 4-hour work week.  It’s an interesting book (the whole idea of outsourcing routine money making things was really interesting),  but it’s a deceptive title.

Tim Ferriss spent countless hours promoting that book, he just didn’t call it work.  He’s a driven guy and a very hard worker and that (in addition to providing products with a unique point of view) got him to where he is.

But the people who are reading these books are learning the wrong lesson.

Tim Ferriss is a master.  But he’s a master at running and sustaining the Tim Ferris machine, and that’s something he’s put a lifetime of work into and not four hours a week.

This other concept of short-term mastery comes back to my original point.

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What is it you want to do?

This idea of short term mastery is nothing new.  Thousands of people have already adapted this idea by getting quick licks under their fingers and posting them on YouTube.

But they’re not master players.  They’re technicians.

And a lot of those videos are awful.  Terrible tone, shakey timing, questionable technique….It has nothing to do with mastery of anything and is instead simply about being better than the people around them.

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In contrast, here’s a 2010 quote from Jonas Hellborg:

“In order to function as a human being, you have to be able to focus.  You have to be able to center.  Some people are into religion.  They pray or meditate or they do this or that.  Music is such a thing.  It’s a discipline and you use it for the purpose of focusing your mental, your spiritual activity in one direction and become whole.  As you do that you will get more and more capacity as a musician.  But if you can express what you need to express with just a limited vocabulary, you can still do that.  It’s not about the vocabulary.  It’s not about how many words you can use; it’s about what you can say.”

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I’ll throw out a Branford quote as well,

“…We live in a country that seems to be in a massive state of delusion where the idea of what you are is more important than you actually being that.   My students…all they want to hear is how good they are and how talented they are but most of them are not really willing to work to the degree to live up to that.”

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Do you want to be the person who’s the best at something in a room or do you want to be the best person you can?

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Going back to the martial art idea, with all of the other means of making and/or hearing music at one’s disposal, there’s not much reason to play guitar except as a means of developing who you are as a person and taking short cuts in that arena is just cheating yourself of a deeper knowledge of who you are..

I hope this helps and as always, thanks for reading!

-SC

Guit-A-Grip Podcast Episode #1

In this episode of Guit-A-Grip – I start to discuss some of the thoughts behind this area of exploring the why of guitar playing.  As I referenced my (profoundly) brief foray in formal martial arts training, I’ve included more of that story in the post below this one.

Here’s a stream of the podcast!:

(There’s subscription and download information below if you want to check it out off line).

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/guitagrip/Guitagrip_Podcast_number_1.mp3]

Technical Notes:

It’s funny.  A while ago I recorded a lesson and I noticed in the explanation that I had a lot of “uhs” in between words – which was really annoying to me (to be fair it serves me right for not using a script for the lesson.)  I developed a new (and equally annoying habit) of putting long pauses in between statements.  I discovered that this time listening back to this first podcast.  Cutting that down and taking out numerous “uhs” in the conversation got the podcast to be several minutes shorter.  It also made the speech rushed and – well – some of the edited speech inflections are just bizarre.

Hopefully there will be less of that in the future.

Also to get the show in the pipeline, I recorded the first 3 episodes in one sitting to get them in the groove.  This means that some technical recording and mix issues will be consistent throughout the first 3 episodes, but I should have that sussed out by episode four.

Show Notes:

Also, this show (and site) is here to address issues revolving around the why of guitar (or the why of any pursuit) –  but in reality  the show topics will invariably touch on all manner of things that are related and interest me such as personal development, motivation and even music business matters.  Ultimately, it deals with the intersections of these areas.

The Anti-Four Hour Clarification

In the Podcast I talk a little about the anti-four hour concept.  I’ve posted more about that here (Or in the post directly above this post if your reading this on guitagrip.com.

Other show notes:

  • I referenced some of the books I had written in the Podcast so the link to them on Amazon is available here.
  • My other site (GuitArchitecture) deals more with the how of guitar playing and that site can be found here.

This is very much a work in progress – but one measures a circle beginning anywhere – so perhaps this is as much a first step as any.

As always thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the show!

Subscription Notes:

You can find it by searching the iTunes store interface but in the meantime…

  • You can subscribe through iTunes here:

(https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/guit-a-grip-podcast/id638383890 )

  • You can use this link to subscribe with any other feed based service:

(http://feeds.feedburner.com/GuitagripPodcast)

  • or you can right click here to download it.

-SC

Finding The Deeper Lesson

Finding mastery in strange places….

One person who’s fascinating to me is Gordon Ramsay (in spite of a celebrity chef status).  I remember years ago, on an early season of Hell’s Kitchen, a Cambridge resident that competed on the show and interviewed by the local Fox affiliate after she was voted off.   When asked about how mean or callous he was, the woman replied that he was really neither.  She said he was a world-class chef who maintained high standards since his name was going out on everything and that his demands were in line with what was expected from any professional kitchen.

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Another thing that fascinates me about Chef Ramsay (other than the fact that he came from a working class background and parlayed a career ending soccer injury into a pursuit of cooking) is that his mastery shines through on everything he does.  The next time you get a chance to see him do a cooking demonstration, watch the ease and speed he moves at.  Everything he does on camera is graceful, seamless and effortless.  If you’ve ever tried to pull off a video demonstration of something – you know how hard getting everything right really is (much less doing it on a sound stage in front of a national audience).

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Reaching a level of technical precision where the technique is invisible is a sign of true mastery.

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According to those who know, at the highest level the mastery of one thing is the same as the mastery of all things.   In other words, the focus, skill set and mental space that one needs to enter to be a master musician – is the same that it takes to be a great chef, a great athlete or anything great.

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Once you learn how to master something, you’ve gained a skill set in mastery and, ultimately, that lesson can be the greater take away.

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Years ago, when I was at my undergrad I wanted to get into martial arts.  I went to study kickboxing (since I had no aptitude for kicking) and my lesson was  with a guy who was nationally ranked.  When I went for the introductory lesson – we did a little bag work and when it was done I asked some questions about the martial arts as a philosophy and he replied that there was no philosophy, it was just about hitting the bag.  (That should have been a huge warning sign but instead I stuck it out for about 3 months).  I remember a class he was teaching where he was doing a weight lifting routine during a full class session of about 20 people.  We were working on kicks and he was teaching us by doing bench presses on a universal weight machine.

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Some of the classes were taught by a student of his and while the student teacher was not at the technical skill level level of the main instructor, these were the most informative classes that I had there.  This teacher was attentive and really helped me address specific technical things and applications.  He might not have been at the technical level of the main teacher, but he was the much better teacher of the two.

Needless to say, I didn’t learn a lot from the main teacher about kickboxing (other than the fact that he was a lot better at it than I was).  But I did learn more than I thought I did.

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The initial conclusions I took away from this experience were:

  • kickboxing sucks and/or
  • I suck at kickboxing

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Obviously kickboxing doesn’t suck and neither of these were the real lessons for me.  They were just faulty conclusions that I came to.

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Eventually, I realized that I had learned some other things:

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    • I learned a lot about teaching – both good and bad practices.
    • I learned some things about myself like my threshold for frustration and the value of discipline and focus.
    • I started thinking about how training affects performance which opened some doors for practicing later on.

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The take away

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If someone plays something better than you, it doesn’t mean you’re hopeless as a guitar player – but it does mean that person devoted more time to something than you did.

It’s easy to fall into those mental traps and it’s also easy to take the wrong lesson from any given experience away with you. 

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Try to find the lessons in whatever you do and then dig deeper into them and see if they have a broader application.

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The wrong lessons are the self-defeating lessons. 

The right lessons are the self-empowering lessons.

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Thanks for reading!

-SC