Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Being Humbled, Daily

Picture of my 'Practice space' from a couple years ago

Blog # 42: Being Humbled, Daily

Last night my roommate(who recently started learning guitar) finished practicing, came into the living room and exclaimed,

"Guitar is so frustrating, I suck!"

without hesitation I responded:

"That's what music is: getting used to frustration".

For me, I have never found something in life so humbling as practicing an instrument and creating music. I'm sure there are still people out there that have a romanticized view of what it is to be a musician and think that whenever we touch the instrument its an out of body experience, where we forget where we are. And while there are times during performance when I can reach this type of freedom and am completely caught up in the music, there is much more time in the practice room that I am face to face with all of my short comings. To me, that is the purpose of practice. I find things that I can't do yet on the trumpet, and I work on them until I can play them. After playing trumpet for so long, I STILL have days where I think I suck, or get frustrated working on trying to play something technical, but that's okay. This process includes a lot of frustration, but I think because we deal with this thing everyday, you build up a tolerance. In short, I try to steer straight into the storm during the practice session and then (ideally) when I'm finished practicing I leave the room and turn my mind on to the next thing.

One of my former teachers, Dave Pietro once told me that musical success was living in that grey zone between what you know and what you don't. This is the idea of challenging oneself and no one did this better than Miles Davis. Miles surrounded himself with musicians who were always pushing the boundaries of jazz and improvisation. He brought in musicians to play with his groups that played new and different styles than what he was used to. When you put yourself in a position where you don't know what will happen, that can be uncomfortable and frustrating. Dave Pietro once said to me; 'Miles found that space and LIVED there.'

I think being a perfectionist, music will always be like this for me and the strange thing is, I'm not just okay with that, I actually like that about it. Whether that makes me masochistic or what, I'm not sure. I do know that after I've dealt with that frustration, at the end of that practice session, when I can now execute whatever technical passage I couldn't when I started, I feel good. That's what I try to focus on and that's what its all about for me; being better than I was the day before.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Goodbye Myspace, Hello Facebook

Notice in the Myspace logo the old slogan: "A Place for Music"

Blog # 41: Goodbye Myspace, Hello Facebook

Over the last year its been hard not to notice the incredible growth in popularity that facebook is experiencing. I remember just a few years ago it was all about myspace. I joined myspace back in '06 and thought it was such a great website for music fans. Myspace offered endless browsing of different bands of all genres for free. I used to spend a lot of my time at my computer just discovering new people I had never heard of. To me, myspace made the world smaller. I found out about incredible musicians that i'd never even heard of before all around the world. Talent that wasn't being pushed by record labels, but that was being made for the love of the music. I had non-musician friends on myspace and had a few people message me and tell me they liked my stuff. It was all a very cool way for people to connect to other people(but from my experience it was primarily over music).

I actually joined facebook before joining myspace back in 2004. Back then it was really small, you had to be in college to be on it(it required a college email address to join) and I knew all of my friends personally(I'd met them all in the flesh). Back then, I'd only go on facebook once in a while and I wasn't that interested in it(I think people mostly just uploaded drunken pictures of themselves, which I found boring). Facebook has sure changed a lot in the past few years. I remember when it first opened up to all people, not just college students. I remember when they started 'status updates'(I initially hating this new feature). Then bands were suddenly on facebook, and 'events' were created. Now facebook became a pretty cool way to find out about live shows. Suddenly I was getting 'Event Invitations'' to gigs and birthday parties, even people subletting their apartments. Strangers started to become my 'friends' and comment on my status, show support, and I did it back to them. In a lot of ways facebook became just like myspace with two big exceptions. 1. The status update feature let you know exactly what everybody was up doing at all moments and feel connected to them(it also made you realize certain musicians had great, entertaining things to say(Nicholas Payton) and other people do nothing but constantly talk about God(Sean Jones) and 2. You could no longer browse and listen to different music.

Regarding this last part, I have to admit, I kinda miss myspace. While you may get to find out about upcoming shows from different musicians you already know, there isn't really a music surfing feature. At least there wasn't until recently. Over the past few weeks I've noticed an interesting change. Friends have been posting youtube clips of different bands, or CD tracks(youtube) that they like as their 'status update'. This is pretty cool, with the exception that sometimes when people post a lot of stuff, it can be a bit annoying. I have to admit, I've deleted certain people from the 'news feed' do to Over-posting. Posting youtube music clips is an interesting new trend, but I think overall, the focus of facebook is off of music and is more on letting different people know more about your life. I guess this could be viewed as a good way to meet new music fans, but it seems a lot less likely that people will scroll through someone's profile info to find out if they have a myspace page to listen to music. That's like 4 or 5 clicks away. Myspace was only 1 click.