world needs more creativity fewer critics

The World Needs More Creativity and Fewer Critics

All of us can’t help but notice how harsh the world has become. In a society that’s filled with nay-sayers, haters and critics everyone has an opinion. Even if it’s your girl friend’s opinion, or your mother’s, or even your best friend we all need to be on guard with who we’re letting into our musical sphere of influence. If you are someone who is ‘addicted to approval’ or crave the acceptance of that one special person, let me give you a word of warning.

In my late teens and early twenties whenever I worked on a new song or recording I would feel compelled to let someone listen to see if they ‘got’ my vision. If they didn’t, I was depressed and agitated or even discouraged. If they ‘got’ it, I felt elated and encouraged. But alas, along the jagged road of self observation I was forced to change this awful habit. One day I realized that this longing for acceptance wasn’t helping my creativity but poisoning it. I decided to start trusting myself, my instincts and my vision despite what others around me thought. As I got older and more secure with myself and my talents I was able to let go of what everyone thought. I mean, did everyone ‘get’ Mozart or Van Gogh when they were in the height of their careers? No! Many successful people have to go year after year hearing rejection before they make the big time. But these are the types of life experiences that make us strong in will and spirit.

I was coming to this conclusion when I started reading the Artists Way. In her book, Julia Cameron has a chapter on ‘The Shadow Artist’. A shadow artist is someone who has their own creativity blocked and has a perverted way of expressing it by hanging in the shadow of other artists as a friend or potential “helpers” (a.k.a. leeches). They may have good intentions on the surface but look closely into the depths of their heart and you’ll see a seething green-eyed monster peering out just waiting to devour your first draft of the song or a book that took you 6 months to write, or the pencil sketches of the still life portrait you made of your now deceased grandmother. They’ll say, “Oh, did you mean to misspell Mississippi?” They’ll nit-pick your vocals or the claps on your beat. They’ll hold up a magnifying glass the size of the sun and peer into your creation looking for flaws. What’s really happening is that they themselves feel threatened by your creativity. So many people are shadow artists and they don’t even know it. They’ll make a joke or a wise comment about one of your verses because they themselves can’t find their own unique voice to express. Creativity is such a precious thing. Without it, we’d be left with a gray overcast world filled with lonely buildings and hopeless people. We’d have meals without taste or color, and a closet full of beige monochromatic uniforms that would force everyone to dress the same. Everything in this world breathes creativity from the fragrance of flowers to the shells of the sea….

Now that I’m in my thirties, I do everything in my power to protect my creativity. I take time to nourish it and provoke it. I make sure to stretch it, and exercise it. I pinpoint the shadow artists in my life and I guard against them. I’m careful who I show my creative projects too. If I have a new plan I’m working on, I hide it in my heart until it’s reached its full maturation stage. I have a hand full of guys that I trust and who are also creative’s themselves and understand and honor the creative process. I also draw out others’ creativity and instill hope to once abandoned dreams.

The world needs more creativity and fewer critics.

So my motto is no longer…”If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all”. No, we live in a world where we must stand for what is right and true. We must never be afraid to speak up and comfort someone hurting or to build up someone that’s discouraged. So, I’ve changed this motto to, “If you can’t say something nice…say something constructive!” I’ve found in my line of work people need constructive feedback. That’s another reason we developed the 7 Lesson Course. So that budding and veteran artists alike, could have a safe place and a productive environment to hone their craft and grow creatively. We give you feedback with each homework assignment you do with each lesson, and we constructively tell you how you can improve according to your creative vision.

So this is my advice to you, not from someone who knows it all but from someone who has experience and wisdom to share and if we keep wisdom to ourselves we are leaving a hole in the world that will only need filling. So I say this to you:

•    Be on look out and on guard from the Shadow Artists in your life.
•    Only let other creative artists in on your vision and music plan.
•    If you see others blocked creativity, spur the sleeping artist within them, and ask them why they don’t create.

A lot of blocked creatives have been hurt by other blocked creatives. See the pattern here? So that is why we be mindful of how we are critiquing others.

When hearing somebody else’s art or song be sure to do the following:

1) Listen to the whole project without fidgeting or opening your mouth to talk or ask a question.

2) Listen for the person’s vision and try and get into their frame of mind. If you still don’t know their vision, ask questions. Did I mention listen??? Yeah, some of us need some schooling on listening but that’s a whole other topic.

3) The first thing out of your mouth should be a compliment. Something that lifts them up. Mention the instrumentation of the strings or the choice of the kick drum. Be specific. Be detailed…don’t make some wimpy generalized statement like, “Oh, it sounds good.” Dig deep! Say something with passion about what they do great.

4) Ask the person why they were inspired to write this specific piece.

5) Spend more time complimenting them and asking them about the creative process….let the conversation flow. Be aware that your nurturing their inner artist right now, it’s not about you, it’s about them.

6) Finally, if there is any critiquing to be done, first ask yourself, is it my place to critique this person, what do I know? Is it really the right time to critique them? Sometimes if we leave it alone the person will fix what was wrong in the first place on their own.

7) If you are a person in the know and would genuinely like to help this person then constructively show them how they could improve.

8) Use words like, “Oh, I love what you did here…make sure it’s snapped to the grid so it comes out more” ….or if it’s an EQ problem, “ your vocals would come out so much better if you cut the low end off more.” Catch my drift?

9) Please always THINK and have COMPASSION when commenting on someone else’s art. Creativity is like a fleeting bird, you don’t want to scare it away. Instead throw the bird some breadcrumbs…next thing you know you’ll be feeding all of its friends too.

If you need info on writer’s block or songwriting, please take a moment and signup for a free training consultation.

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.

If there is anything we can help you with, setup a free training consultation below.

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

If there is anything we can help you with, setup a free training consultation below.

stir up passion for creating music

Stir up your Passion for Creating Music

People that are successful in consistently being inspired to create music stay stirred up about the projects they are working on. They are diligent to stay excited about what’s new, what’s fresh and innovative. You may be thinking to yourself, I’m too busy, am I missing something, I wish I could stay consistently passionate about music, but I just don’t feel that way. I don’t really know how to get myself stirred up.

Here’s a few ways you can stay in the game when it comes to being passionate and on fire for music.

1. Stay around people who are excited about music. Before long you will be excited and stirred up too. If you associate with a person who is a visionary, you will soon get a vision too. But if you stay around lifeless people who want to do nothing but complain, sit on the couch, eat chips and watch reality TV, than soon you will be doing the same things. At times, you will have to make a commitment to yourself to distance from friends and family to get a project done. Make a deadline for yourself and stick to it. Get into a schedule that suits your creativity.

2. Decide to take action about the negative way you feel instead of just wishing things were different. Realize that if you want to have victory over your feelings strongly enough, you will do whatever it takes to get it. If you do not want the victory, no one can motivate you to want it. We need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. We need to stop whining, “I wish I had this,” or “I wish I didn’t have that. I wish I had more money. I wish I had the right connections. I wish my back didn’t hurt. I wish I didn’t have this bill. I wish…I wish…I wish…” You can be pitiful or you can be powerful, but you cannot be both. So take your pick.

3. Avoid passivity, procrastination, and laziness. A passive person waits to be moved by an outside force before he or she will take action. We are to be motivated and led by the inspiration within us, not by things on the outside. The best way we can guard against the spirit of passivity and laziness is to do what we need to do now, and do it with all of our might. When inspiration comes, harness it. Stop everything you are doing and capture the idea that is trying to come out.

4. In order to always be aglow and burning, we have to stay on fire. Keep your music production and writing process fun. Take short breaks to rest your ear, watch something funny on YouTube, go for a 15 minute drive. Take a walk in the park at night and give your ears a rest. When you sit down to create, inspiration is not always going to be there. You have to create the environment… you have to stir yourself up! Everyone is different. Some people keep toys around the studio, some play ping pong in between takes, I like to dim the lights, light a candle and vibe. It is up to you to be creative and inventive until you find what gets your creative juices flowing. These are just a few tips to start the process. Remember, there is no such thing as writer’s block or a lack in creativity. The first step to walking out of any block is to stir yourself up and keep motivated!

If there is anything we can help you with, setup a free training consultation below.