music meant to inspire

Music is Meant to Inspire – so are you Inspired?

Often along the way we can forget why we are in this music thing. Why do we persevere through hard ships and annoyances? Why do we lust after gear and have a constant thirst for knowledge? Why do we sit through long hours of editing vocal tracks so they are perfect, and just right? And all the marketing, self promotion and boring business administration can leave us numb as we ask ourselves, “Why am I really doing this?” The answer is different for all of us but all musicians/artist can relate to this one simple truth:

Music is meant to inspire.

Let me remind you, that the things we all go through whether it is lonely heart-break, economic struggles, political unrest, or health problems, someone out there needs to hear what you have to say on the subject. Often times, when I’m challenged by something, I go to my guitar or drum machine and after playing a few chords I can be real with myself and suddenly all these lyrics come typing or scribbling out of nowhere. Sometimes though and I don’t mind admitting, it takes some time to sit down and write that song because I know I will have to face what I am feeling.. but therein lies the true purpose for music.

When we write and create, something inside of us heals. When those song phrases are formed a deep longing in our hearts is satiated. We can sigh a breath of relief as melody and rhythm soothe our agitated souls. The true miracle in all this is that something we do for our own sakes and our own desire can deeply affect others in a massive scale. If you are a really good songwriter or producer you have the ability to compose a piece that will draw others into what you are feeling and thinking. In turn, this mirrors the fact that we all feel and think the same things, have the same emotions, joys and hurts. This common thread keeps us together as humanity fights to tear us apart. We are all so different but inside we are very much the same.

So, I’m writing this to encourage you. No matter where you are in life and what you’re going through, the world needs to hear your unique contribution, your unique perspective and touch. That is why we go through all the drama, the up-hill battles, the critiques and the demos. We are meant to capture and comment on life. We are meant to live our lives to the fullest, breathe it in and record it. Feel it, experience it, and then perform it. Not everyone can do this! And I know sometimes it’s easy to forget but if you have been blessed by music talent than you have an obligation to the world. You have been put on this earth to inspire people with your creativity. Good music brings us all together in harmony and makes us feel like we’re not alone. This is exactly what this world needs more of..

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how to finish music start

How to Finish the Music you Start

“We shall neither fail nor falter; we shall not weaken or tire… give us the tools and we will finish the job.”

So what do you have to finish? Do you have a long list of unfinished projects? Have you allowed yourself to begin other tasks before finishing the ones already on your plate? I think we’re all guilty of this at one time or another but there always comes a time where we stop and say, “Enough! I have to finish these other things first before I commit to anything else!” Sometimes we have to overwhelm ourselves before we finally admit that we’ve been slacking off with finishing. Let’s face it, finishing is hard – that’s why so many people have problems doing it. But finishing is rewarding and if you keep your eye on the prize you’ll finish things left and right and be ready for more in no time!

“We rate ability in men by what they finish, not by what they attempt”

It’s a hard truth I try and remind myself of often. When you are long gone and someone is reading your obituary, they will not comment on what you tried to do. They will only document your achievements and successes. Maybe that’s a good thing I mean, who wants to be known for failing. “Here lies Johnny, he was an average baseball player, pretty mediocre actually, well, at least he tried!”

No, that’s not what we want to be known for. Everyone wants to do something great and the secret lies in finishing. Anyone can start something but it takes determination, drive and a deep inner commitment to finish.

Tutorial: How to Finish the Music you Start:

1)    Create a Deadline
Nothing puts a fire under you better than a deadline. Now, be realistic when you set this date. Don’t be a hero but don’t be a wimp. Set a date that is both challenging and doable. You will surprise yourself on how good this works and take joy in the fact that it’s a deadline you created for yourself. Create a deadline and stick to it.

2)    Keep a Momentum
Once you start working towards finishing your project, you’ll need to keep the juices flowing. If you work better during a certain time, stick to it. Make yourself a schedule and alert everyone around you not to disturb you. Tell friends and family about your deadline so everyone knows about it. Be on guard with distractions via phone calls, TV, family drama or plain laziness. Discipline yourself to stay motivated and you will reap the benefits by looking in the mirror and seeing a strong individual that has self control when it comes to his/her life dreams.

3)    Know Your #1 Enemy : Procrastination

Don’t we know this guy all too well? You miss one day of studio work or music production and then another day goes by and then another and then another. Then you wake up a week later and you’ve sabotaged yourself. Be real with yourself. You can tell when your beginning to procrastinate. There’s no genie over your shoulder that’s going to tap you when you’re procrastinating so you have to have some sort of self awareness. Watch yourself and your actions and when you see this guy start to come up with excuses of why not to work today – squelch it! Push through it, you’ll be glad you did.

4)    Reward Yourself
Ok, so you’re goal is to finish the Computer Music Production School in 3 months. After each lesson is completed, especially one you struggled in, treat yourself to a nice dinner or a new CD to jam too. Whatever gets you going, reward yourself with little accomplishments along the way. If your goal is to complete an album, then when all the recording’s done, celebrate! When all the mixing’s done, celebrate! When all the mastering is done, celebrate! This will allow you to acknowledge your progress and also give you a chance to refuel and refresh that inner artist.

5)    Do Your Best and Forget the Rest
So you have a bad day in the studio, so what. Don’t dwell on it, don’t let it discourage you. We all have our bad days, and our not-so-creative days. Do not let your mistakes or blunders carry into the next day. So you worked all night on a track and woke up the next morning to find out that you really don’t really like it. No big deal. Scrap it and start over or salvage it later. Don’t allow bad days to allow doubt to creep in. Be on guard with this. Do your best and forget the rest. Tomorrow is always a new day.

6)    Face Your Fears
Another reason its easy to not finish is once it’s finished, it will be judged. Some are afraid to finish because they fear their own success. There could be countless fears that come up around the time of finishing and usually they are stupid and frivolous. But fear can be very powerful and it’s the number one thing holding most people back from accomplishments. Make a list of your fears when they come up and talk yourself out of them. Using simple logic and common sense can usually squelch any random fear. Just admitting that you have the fear usually does the trick. And you know the saying,”Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” You’ll never get past your fears if you don’t step out and finish what you’re doing despite of them.

7)    Let People Help You
Now, I’m not talking about random people off the street or your friend who knows nothing about your goals or self discipline and motivation. I’m talking about people that are professional and know about what you’re trying to accomplish. Find people that have already done what you’re trying to do and ask them for advice. Talk to them about your difficulties and trials that come up. Honor them with respect and you’ll be richly rewarded with a slew of advice and wisdom.

“There is nothing so fatal to character as half-finished tasks.”

When you think about your life as a whole, what do you want to be known for? If you want to leave behind a stack of best-selling albums or want to be known as a producer who created new genres of music, finishing will be your best friend. The music business is not for the faint in heart and everything is a process of order. Encourage yourself and commit to using your talents to help others and nothing will stop you from finishing.

It is easy to get lost in the crowd. The measure of a goal or dream is not how simple or grand it is or how easily you can articulate its details. Rather, the true satisfaction, beauty and joy of your dream is found in the often slow but steady pace at which you work your way towards the finish line..

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stuck in project

Are You Stuck in the Middle of your Music Project?

Throughout our lifetime we often start things full of passion and excitement and then… what happens? Beginnings hold a sense of naivety that breeds confidence and boldness. Butterflies in the stomach lead to a careful thought out plan, trying your best to think out every possible thing that could happen.

Most of the time we’re only thinking about how amazing it will feel to finish!
But then the inevitable happens…you get to the middle.

Are you stuck right in the middle of your music?

Often times we can’t really foresee what the middle will bring until we get there. The middle is where you see what you’re made of. Because anyone can start something…and we all can judge a person by how they finish… but the middle?
No one really knows yet, including you.

Be it an Olympic race, a dance recital or a self-produced album, the lessons are all the same. Are you right in the middle? What do I mean by that? Well, our attitude in the ‘middle’ of things will determine how long we stay there. There have been countless writers ‘in the middle’ of their prized thesis for twenty something years now. There have been struggling actors ‘in the middle’ of their careers waiting for that big break. And there have been many an artist who fizzed out in the middle, not able to cut the long hours of studio work and enduring frustration of pressing in through life’s struggles..

Let’s face it the middle is where things get ugly. .

Let’s think about what the middle can bring: Crashed computers, glitches in software, gear that was working one minute and not the next, clipping on an otherwise perfect take, family issues, death, life, difficult clients, unexpected bills, missing samples and writer’s block.

Now what does the middle bring out of you?
Does it bring out competition, comparison, panic, fear, frustration, mistakes, and stress?
Or does it bring out determination, focus, cleverness, humility and creativity?

I don’t think there’s one person on this earth who gets away from the challenges of the middle. From doctors to pregnant mother, we all have to face ourselves in the middle. But is there a right way and a wrong way to be in the middle? Could our own attitudes keep us longer in the middle or put us on cruise control to the finish line? I think that ‘the middle’ is actually the most important part of any goal or commitment.

It is in the middle where you become who you need to be to make it to the finish.

So, it’s safe to say that the middle is more important than the beginning, and maybe even the finish. Are you right in the middle? Right meaning positive, courageous and patient? When you’re in the middle do you complain and whine to everyone who will listen or do you silently suffer intuitively knowing that you will get through your obstacles?

In my line of work, I’ve seen many people crash in the middle. But I’ve also seen many people transformed in the middle. It’s these courageous ones that keep me going every day, that inspire me and make me think that all my hard work is worth it.

If I could give everyone one small piece of advice it is this: Stay optimistic in the middle. Keep your head up and your eye on the goal. Ignore frustration and allow yourself to be challenged. As a matter of fact, give into it! Get out and stay out of your comfort zone.

Just knowing you’re in the season of being ‘in the middle’ will help you get through to the finish. Once you’re finished, you’ll look back and see who you became in the middle and you’ll be utterly amazed at what you are capable of.

It’s happened to me many, many times and I’ve witnessed it in others. It is truly a beautiful thing. Like the butterfly who has to spend a few weeks in its cocoon, there’s a reason the process is hidden: the transformation isn’t always pretty, but it’s necessary. So, to all my earth worms out there still crawling on your bellies in the middle of your project, keep your eyes on those butterfly wings. Stay rightly optimistic and focused in the middle.

As true as the sun rises every day, so there will be light at the end of every journey’s tunnel.

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10 steps of success

10 Steps to Guarantee your Music Success

How can I make such a bold statement as this? How can anyone’s success be guaranteed?  Well, there are always going to be changes that catch you off guard and keep you on your toes but for the most part, your future can be guaranteed if you can master personal growth.

As an educator, I don’t want to just teach you amazing things about production. I want to give you a hunger for learning and a thirst for personal growth. When you realize that learning and growing go hand and hand then the whole world is open to you.

You can do anything that your heart desires and accomplish anything that you can dream up. When you step into being a person who is committed to personal growth you step onto a path that will only lead you to amazing and uncharted territories.

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going,
Only steps, no escalators, and no elevators.

1)    Deny Immediate Pleasure for Personal  Growth
Learn how to say ‘No’ to yourself, and your friends and family. If you have a dream inside of you that needs to be realized you have to deny some of the little pleasures of life in order to grow. Everyone that is successful has made sacrifices to get where they are. Your time is valuable, protect it.

2)    Growth is the Only Guarantee of a Future
This seems like common sense doesn’t it? Well, ask yourself. “Am I growing right now?” If you’re not, you need to make some changes in your life. Throw out the distractions: TV, magazines, family drama, internet browsing, partying or laziness. You know what they are. If you quit growing you start dying. If you said, “Yes!” to the question than, awesome…you are on your way to a brighter future!

3)    Take Responsibility for Your Growth
No one is going to check on you and what you’re doing with your life except maybe your momma, if you’re lucky. But in the real world, you are in charge of yourself. Only you know if you are challenging yourself enough. Only you know if you are slacking off! Only you know how much more you are capable of. Please be honest with yourself. If you can’t be real with yourself and look into a mirror to evaluate how you’re doing in your life…you are doing yourself a great disservice. Get in the habit of asking yourself, “OK, how did I do this week? Did I get everything on my list done? How’d I do on my homework…Are my beats getting better?”

4)    Grow to Become Not to Acquire
Growth brings good things, but good things don’t bring growth. Even if you make a mistake, as long as you grow from it and learn some lessons…dust your feet off and try again! Do you know how many times Edison failed at inventing the light bulb? Nobody knows, because the last time he tried, he succeeded. That’s all that matters. Keep your eyes on how much your changing and growing. Are you becoming a better person? Are you less frustrated when you sit down to create? The results will naturally follow your personal growth.

5)    Stay Out of Your Comfort Zone
I can’t stress this one enough. Learn to love being uncomfortable! There should be a little alarm that goes off in your brain, “OMG, this sucks!! I am so uncomfortable!!” When you hear yourself thinking that, stop and smile…because you are growing!!! Learn to identify when you are out of your comfort zone and relish it! Master it! Then you will be able to go with it without so much resistance.

6)    Include the Love in your Life
If you’re single you can ignore this step. But if you are married like me or in a relationship, please pay attention. You and your spouse must grow together, not apart. If you are the only one growing there is a problem. There are many times when one spouse is inspired and motivated and the other one isn’t… this is an opportunity to use your influence for good. Do whatever you have to do, but make sure your spouse is encouraged and motivated as well.

7)    Hang Around with Growing People
I’ve touched on this before, but we all need to remember it. Big dreamers need to hang around big dreamers. No one with a small mindset is going to understand big dreams. It’s a simple as that.

8)    Daily Growth via a Personal Growth Plan
The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine; you will never change your life until you change something you do daily. You must have goals written down for yourself. I find it very helpful to give myself deadlines for things I want to accomplish. Because I own my own business I have to motivate myself, I am my own boss…and so are you. Make for yourself both short term and long term goals. Go from what you want to accomplish daily, to weekly, to yearly.

9)    Spend Time and Money in Order to Grow
Why spend time and money in order to grow? Because it’s going to take time and money in order to grow! Discipline yourself to spend the needed time to get better in the areas you are weak. If you want to learn how to type faster, learn accounting, understand design sense, etc get the education you need to get the results you want.

10)    Appreciate the Value of Personal Growth
Celebrate the little victories. No one sees these; they only see the huge accomplishments. But races are won one lap at a time. Enjoy the journey, and encourage yourself with each positive stride made.

Adapted and inspired by an article by John Maxwell

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