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Old 01-31-2010, 02:57 AM   #1
thegloaming
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advice from people with degrees in either performance or education

i guess if you get work teaching or performing and didnt have to study at a college youre equally qualified to help.

so basically, this semester ive been starting taking some of the more upper level music courses. and, not that i ever thought of myself as some sort of musical god, but ive always felt comfortable with my abilities, until now. i just feel like, compared to the other students who are around me, im really, really average. i guess i should take into account that i started college music courses in high school, so most of the people in my classes now are older than me by 2-3 years (this is technically my first year of college). but i still dont think thats a good excuse, because in music, age doesnt matter.

its just been making me sort of paranoid, i feel like im a nobody. in my theory classes there are people who know a lot more theory than me, in the ensemble i play in there are people who can sight read sheets faster than me, i go to open mic blues jams and there are people who can shred a lot harder than me.

so, to people who do teach or perform professionally, how did you manage to make yourself unique as a player? what are the qualities you need to possess to be competitive?(i mean i hate to say it, music shouldnt be a competitive in the sense that a sport is, but at a certain point it kind of is).

at the moment, im trying to focus primarily on sight reading, as well as piano, because ive heard that being a multi-instrumentalist is a key factor in getting work.
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Old 01-31-2010, 03:18 AM   #2
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there is always some one or some people that are better then you..

its a fact of life man.
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Old 01-31-2010, 03:18 AM   #3
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Old 01-31-2010, 03:52 AM   #4
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find what it is about your playing / knowledge that makes you stand out, whether it be a certain quirk or mannerism in your playing or a certain stylistic feature. With practice and jamming with others, particularly those who can point out your playing ability you will find what makes you unique.

If all else fails: Freepower videos
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Old 01-31-2010, 05:06 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fretboard12
i'm neither of these but i am curious as to what is consider upper level courses what there teaching.

getting into the voice leading/harmony in 4 voice type of stuff
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Old 01-31-2010, 05:51 AM   #6
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First of all, music is a life long journey. I've been playing for almost 30 years and teaching for the last 20. I went to a music school similar to GIT. One of the most important lessons I learned, is that you will (or should anyway), always be trying to improve your ability.
Do not get into the comparison game. Because its a losing battle. There is always gonna be a million guys who can smoke you. SO WHAT!
Play because you love it, not because you want to show how well you can play- that's what youtube is for.
Take your time and study, it's not a race. If you put the time in. it'll come.
If you want to do music fulltime, it really all about one thing...SONGS.
The majority of people who listen to music, go to concerts and buy cd's don't care about how well you shred. They just want to hear good songs. This is why the Stones have lasted so long, they write good songs that people remember.

When I was in school, my room mate was a guy named Todd Duane. If you want to hear a ridiculous shredder, check out some of his stuff online. One night, a girl from across the hall came over and was hanging out with us. Todd was sitting there shredding as usual, (the dude did nothing but practice.) After 20 minutes or so, she says, "don't you know any songs?" At the time I thought it was pretty funny. But later it hit me, so few people actually care about that type of music.
I'm not trying to say that you shouldn't work on you improv skills. But don't get hung up on the technique thing. Besides, theres already Steve Morse and John Petrucci, so good luck getting beyond that.
There's a great book that has helped me a lot, its called Zen Guitar. I'd encourage you to check it out. It will definately help you understand focus and balance.
Hope this helps
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Old 01-31-2010, 07:08 AM   #7
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You need to fight for yourself and beat those guys with your musical talent, but you need to practice. Be patient and don't worry.
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Old 01-31-2010, 09:43 AM   #8
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lock yourself in a practice room every waking moment. i had an epiphany a few weeks ago. i'm a music student at university. it's time to take up my own cross. just because i'm taking loans out the ass to pay for the school doesn't mean they're going to do the work for me. they have the resources to make me great; it's up to me to use them.

this is what i (and presumably you) want to forever. so take it seriously. lock your ass up in a practice room any time you have free time. i used to be a big party animal. know where i am now on friday nights? playing through my jazz charts and scales for hours on my upright. i'm going to be an extraordinary bassist. it may not be until i'm 60, but i'm going to practice my ass off until it's perfect. and you know what? it's never perfect. if it was, it wouldn't be fun. so i'll be playing until my fingers bleed for the rest of my life. i suggest you do the same.

it's good to suck. i played "seven steps to heaven" the other day on bass. man, i lost form so many times and got behind the beaand t like mad. completely sucked on that tune. but you know what? if you pay attention after a week or so you realize that you can do it now. come april, i'm going to KILL it on stage during the scheduled performance. i know i can. nobody's going to make it happen for you or me. we have to make serious sacrifices for our passion. that's all you need to do.

you're wrong though. music is a competition. one of our jazz instructors said by the time we leave school we need to be where they are. that's a tall order given the proficiency of these guys. but he's right. as soon as i walk out of the auditorium with my BM ... john and brian aren't my bass teachers anymore, they're my competition for a gig. albeit, it's a friendly, respectful competition. but the point is if you're no good, you're going to lose out on gigs because of it. same as any other work environment.
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Old 01-31-2010, 09:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thegloaming
i guess if you get work teaching or performing and didnt have to study at a college youre equally qualified to help.


Well, my degree is in music education. I've been teaching in the public school system for almost 15 years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thegloaming
there are people who know a lot more theory than me, ... there are people who can sight read sheets faster than me, ... there are people who can shred a lot harder than me.


This is going to sound funny, but the good news is that you're missing the point. As "seth's daddy" pointed out (great post, btw), there will always be people out there who are better than you. But that's only a small part of the puzzle. You addressed this, in part, yourself....

Quote:
Originally Posted by thegloaming
what are the qualities you need to possess to be competitive?


Your abilities to write, as were suggested, could be of benefit. BUT.... it is your personal qualities and your networking that will get you the gigs. Maybe 0.5% of the gigs out there will ask you to shred like a mofo. Aside from that, people mostly could care less. What they care about are:

1. Are you competent enough to play the part as required?

2. Do we want to work with you? In other words, things like punctuality, professionalism, sense of humour, approachability, outgoingness, etc. will get you called back before the Steve Vai wannabe who sight-reads like a demon, except he thinks he's the second coming, shows up late, and smells like stale beer and puke.

3. Do we know you exist? Sure, word gets out if you're a great player, but the more people you work with, shake hands with, jam with, etc., the closer your card is to the top of the pile when someone else asks them, "Hey, do you know a guitarist who.....?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by thegloaming
at the moment, im trying to focus primarily on sight reading, as well as piano, because ive heard that being a multi-instrumentalist is a key factor in getting work.


This is all good. Keep doing that.

About teaching, too.... none of that stuff you mentioned really matters either. As a teacher, again, it comes down to competency in music (not brilliance) and your people skills.

1. Do you care about the kids? They pick up on that and respond as appropriate?
2. Are you enthusiastic about your subject?
3. Do you make an effort to engage students and make it at least interesting, if not fun?

... that sort of thing.

CT
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Old 01-31-2010, 12:54 PM   #10
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As for being competitive as a performer... most of the competition is in finding gigs, and depending on what you're playing they may actually find you. As a performer 90% of getting work is just being wherever work is at different times than other people looking for work, or being first call for the kind of gigs you want to be doing. It's not hard making money that way.

I'm not sure if you're doing classical or jazz as your focus for guitar, but for classical one of the best ways to stand out is to play things that other people don't play often... it doesn't have to be difficult to sound good, and more people care about how good you sound than how hard you're working when you play. For jazz, just be able to play a ton of stuff and gig as often as you can (probably with different groups). You don't need to stand out in jazz, just play, and play, and play, you'll get paid and eventually you'll get paid more.

Also, being able to execute on stage is just as important as having technical skills... half the time those crawl out the window mooning you on their way out when you're on stage anyway.
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Old 01-31-2010, 05:52 PM   #11
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Some fantastic posts here, guys, really good stuff. (apparently I'm not the only UGer who knows of Todd Duane, what a beast! Can't have been good for the ol' self esteem watching that shred monster all day! )

And nice to have you around a bit atm Cor, long time no see.

Quote:
to people who do teach or perform professionally, how did you manage to make yourself unique as a player? what are the qualities you need to possess to be competitive?


Well, first of all, I teach professionally, and I've been doing it about 18 months. I have taught guitar to various students for money for years, but you did say "professionally".

Anyway, to add to what axemanchris said - to be a good teacher it doesn't take musical or music business brilliance.

It's not how much you know - it's how well you can pass that knowledge on to someone else, and give a sense of confidence and progress.

Also, as a teacher, all that rock and roll bullshit is out. You arrive on time, you do your books for tax returns, you need to deal with the occasional disruptive and dull student and you need to do it to the best of your ability. Occasionally you need to do the really difficult jobs of trying to get a parent to support their child's interests.

You really, really, really have to do be in it for the kids, and not for the money.

I stand out from the majority of the guitar tutors on the basis of my youth (and that's not a good thing), and the fact I have real qualifications (A Diploma in Teaching Electric Guitar, soon to be an Associateship and then Licentiate).

I try to establish a reputation as a dedicated and competent tutor. I'll let you know in a while if I've been competitive enough.
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Old 01-31-2010, 09:16 PM   #12
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^ Thanks... one of the other things about teaching is that you don't necessarily have to be technically superior to a student to teach them either, in the same manner that professional coaches aren't necessarily better than athletes they train either.

There comes a point in student progression where a teacher doesn't really have anything to 'teach' but can help identify problems and refine playing certain things. Being able to connect with your better students to the point where you can interact with them as a sounding board for ideas and refining material is important. A teacher who's good at that is going to be in high demand for intermediate and advanced players, even if the teacher isn't necessarily an amazing player.

Most players are aware that what they hear when playing something is completely different than what somebody listening to it hears. Having somebody able to identify what they hear as a listener who can communicate back to you as a performer on your instrument is probably the most important part of the student-teacher relationship.
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Old 01-31-2010, 11:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by primusfan
lock yourself in a practice room every waking moment. i had an epiphany a few weeks ago. i'm a music student at university. it's time to take up my own cross. just because i'm taking loans out the ass to pay for the school doesn't mean they're going to do the work for me. they have the resources to make me great; it's up to me to use them.

this is what i (and presumably you) want to forever. so take it seriously. lock your ass up in a practice room any time you have free time. i used to be a big party animal. know where i am now on friday nights? playing through my jazz charts and scales for hours on my upright. i'm going to be an extraordinary bassist. it may not be until i'm 60, but i'm going to practice my ass off until it's perfect. and you know what? it's never perfect. if it was, it wouldn't be fun. so i'll be playing until my fingers bleed for the rest of my life. i suggest you do the same.

it's good to suck. i played "seven steps to heaven" the other day on bass. man, i lost form so many times and got behind the beaand t like mad. completely sucked on that tune. but you know what? if you pay attention after a week or so you realize that you can do it now. come april, i'm going to KILL it on stage during the scheduled performance. i know i can. nobody's going to make it happen for you or me. we have to make serious sacrifices for our passion. that's all you need to do.

you're wrong though. music is a competition. one of our jazz instructors said by the time we leave school we need to be where they are. that's a tall order given the proficiency of these guys. but he's right. as soon as i walk out of the auditorium with my BM ... john and brian aren't my bass teachers anymore, they're my competition for a gig. albeit, it's a friendly, respectful competition. but the point is if you're no good, you're going to lose out on gigs because of it. same as any other work environment.


dude, that post got me pumped!
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Old 01-31-2010, 11:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by primusfan
lock yourself in a practice room every waking moment. i had an epiphany a few weeks ago. i'm a music student at university. it's time to take up my own cross. just because i'm taking loans out the ass to pay for the school doesn't mean they're going to do the work for me. they have the resources to make me great; it's up to me to use them.

this is what i (and presumably you) want to forever. so take it seriously. lock your ass up in a practice room any time you have free time. i used to be a big party animal. know where i am now on friday nights? playing through my jazz charts and scales for hours on my upright. i'm going to be an extraordinary bassist. it may not be until i'm 60, but i'm going to practice my ass off until it's perfect. and you know what? it's never perfect. if it was, it wouldn't be fun. so i'll be playing until my fingers bleed for the rest of my life. i suggest you do the same.

it's good to suck. i played "seven steps to heaven" the other day on bass. man, i lost form so many times and got behind the beaand t like mad. completely sucked on that tune. but you know what? if you pay attention after a week or so you realize that you can do it now. come april, i'm going to KILL it on stage during the scheduled performance. i know i can. nobody's going to make it happen for you or me. we have to make serious sacrifices for our passion. that's all you need to do.

you're wrong though. music is a competition. one of our jazz instructors said by the time we leave school we need to be where they are. that's a tall order given the proficiency of these guys. but he's right. as soon as i walk out of the auditorium with my BM ... john and brian aren't my bass teachers anymore, they're my competition for a gig. albeit, it's a friendly, respectful competition. but the point is if you're no good, you're going to lose out on gigs because of it. same as any other work environment.


Dude, for real. Listen to eulogy by tool and just tap out the polyrhythms on your hands. It honestly will help you get those changes in 7 steps.

Some other hints for seven steps: Those dotted quarter notes in the beginning are the same length as a half note in the swing section. Over those quarter notes, it is very hip for you and the drummer to go into a half time swing feel while the band stays in 3/4. Ive performed seven steps several times, so you can pm me with questions. Theres just a couple tricks that make it tons easier.

Everything in your post was spot on btw. Professional music IS a competition. And college is about you and a practice room.
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:11 AM   #15
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at my orientation that was one of the first things they said, "A perfomance degree is great however you will be competing with your professors for work." is what the dean of arts said.
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Old 02-01-2010, 04:19 PM   #16
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Everyone's musical voice is different, perhaps you're so used to yours all you can hear is the flaws in comparison (I think we all get this a little bit). Don't judge yourself against others - in any discipline. Play because you love it and love it when you play, it's not a competition.

I always think of guitar like I do spoken voice, what you hear is always different to what others hear.
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