#1
Hey guys I've been having a little bit of trouble again in terms of the mental aspect of studying as a musician. This will be somewhat of a lengthy post so bear with me if you can.

My practice nowadays is a mixture of producing trance/hip-hop and practicing the guitar.
However instead of studying everyday like i used to, I've only been studying every other day.

My beliefs at this point consist of only studying music when I feel like I'm enjoying myself. However sometimes I often find myself not enjoying myself so I need to put it down instead of trying to force a fake joy upon myself. It's starting to get sad though because I've been finding out nowadays that I don't enjoy practicing and making music as much as I thought I used to. I often find myself putting it down more and more often.

My practicing is subject to a very inconsistent ratio of being inspired when I compose something I like / making guitar progress and being non inspired when I can't compose something I like / can't make guitar progress.

With that being said I don't feel like my happiness is dependent on my musical progress like it used to. I suppose you can say that I was depressed because I was previously letting my overall state of happiness be controlled by my own musical progress. Nowadays I understand that happiness is more of a state of mind dependent on internal circumstances as opposed to external circumstances. What I do find though is that my enthusiasm is definitely starting to suffer.

It's almost going to be my 4th year playing guitar and my 3rd year studying music. I'm now 16 and after all this inconsistency I don't know whether I should pursue music as a career.

If I told that to some people they would think I'm crazy. The reason being is because I don't feel like I understand or enjoy anything else as much as I do listening to music. It's getting to the point where I can do so many things such as identify the chord progression, recognize the arpeggios, hear the melody and immediately be able to play it on the guitar, hear what types of sound effects/waveforms are being used in electronic music and even understand certain audio manipulation techniques such as glitching, reversing, sampling, and stuttering along with where the instruments are being panned.

On a side note I am 100% sure that best feeling to me in my life is when I'm listening to a great song that resonates with me on a spiritual level. The problem is, I have trouble making great music and I also have trouble playing great music.

If I could play as great as my guitar heroes and compose as well as my favorite composers on a consistent basis I feel like my life would be made. Im at a stage in my practice where I can't do neither of those so what do you guys think?

If there are any of you out there that can play great and compose great music consistently do you feel like these feelings I'm experiencing are only a temporary result of being unable to play / compose great music?

Also if that is the case and I decide to continue studying do you guys think that I will consistently get closer to this goal and as a result be more inspired?

For the actual musicians on this forum that are doing this for a living, do you find that music gets more enjoyable the better you get?
Last edited by dannydawiz at Jul 12, 2013,
#2
I think you've got it all going for you. You've got good people around you, which is important in life. You're only 16.

Perhaps ask yourself the question; "Where do I see myself in x years, and is that achievable?" Set yourself goals.

Are you in a band?
Last edited by mdc at Jul 12, 2013,
#3
I will honestly say, as someone who composes professionally, when you start writing great songs and pieces, it will get more stressful. The reason behind that is that you'll write a great piece of music, and then that piece will always be there, you'll always have to beat it, write something better, and nothing is more terrifying than the feeling that you've written your magnum opus, that nothing will be better. Of course, immense joy comes from finally discovering that better piece, but it does come with stress, fear and worry. However, when I compose professionally, these thoughts never enter my head. I'm not out to write a great piece of music, I'm out to serve a purpose. If someone wants a 2 minute dramatic orchestral piece, there is gonna be a lot of simple harmony, copy and pasting and ripping of Pirates of The Caribbean, because I want the pay to be worth my time. Of course, for a high profile job, I'll set out to create something brilliant, as I'll have been paid for that, but those huge jobs are few and far between, the chances of becoming the next Danny Elfman are probably lower than the chances of you winning the lottery, regardless of your talent.

That said, I believe that music truly gets enjoyable when you figure out what you want to do. As someone who has been through education in music, don't play Jazz or Blues or Classic Rock just because a lecturer twice your age tells you it's good. Play a genre because you enjoy it, if those genres are Jazz or Blues, or Classic Rock, play them. Personally, I'd rather listen to a recording of Jesus Christ Superstar than listen to Guns N Roses, and I'll take DragonForce over Miles Davies any day of the week, and I've found my happiness following what I enjoy.

Should you study music as a career? Look at your guitar and ask yourself 'Am I happy with whatever I do, whoever I am and whoever I will become, as long as this is in my hand?' If the answer is yes, do it. If the answer is no, then you need to make a plan. Now, I'm not going to lie and say that the only way to make money is to do things you dislike, I dislike a majority of popular music, and Jazz, so I'm making my money by composing orchestral music, teaching Expert level Neoclassical guitar and performing Symphonic Metal, but the amount of work that takes is ridiculous, things rarely stay still, you've got to find new clients, students and songs every week, and I've recently let music take a backseat to me pursuing a career in Musical Theatre, because I enjoy that more.

I don't mean to put you off, but I know how it feels to be 16 with a romanticised view of music, and being so disappointed, so you need to consider what you really want. And I must say, never let music be your sole hobby if it is your profession. If I hadn't discovered Musical Theatre and Fencing, I'd have went mad from sitting at a computer screen inputting notation and practicing new passages to a metronome for hours on end.
#4
I agree with you in the aspect that goals are important however I disagree about having good people around me in the sense that I sadly don't have any teachers out there to guide me aside from the people that I've met online on ultimate guitar.

The thing with setting goals for me is that in the past I've set goals for myself and as a result my whole life had become nothing but a constant fleet of living for the future. I could never enjoy the present moment because my mind was always in an "autopilot" of sorts. I would practice every day regardless of whether I enjoyed myself or not for hours on end. Time had become one of my top priorities which eventually caused me to be a very intense type of person.

As an example when I first went to high school, I joined my schools marching band as a guitar player in the front ensemble. The instructor would come and I would end up doing things that were completely irrelevant such as running laps, practicing fast instead of slow, focusing on speed instead of efficiency of movement. As a result of that intense state of mind I eventually became so upset with the program that I packed up my guitar and left because I felt like being there was simply a "waste of my practice time".

I eventually ended up with major depression which is when I decided I needed to stop and get my overall mentality straight again.

Where I ended up with all of that was discovering that life is about the journey and not the destination. If I didn't start enjoying my life now then the only time that I would be able to be satisfied would be during the brief periods of time that I attained the external circumstances that I wanted.

How this applies to goals is that any goal that I have I feel is irrelevant unless I can find a way to enjoy the process of attaining it.

This is one of the problems that I face now as well. Finding out how to balance my goals with enjoyable methods of reaching them. If I don't then I fear that I will end up in that terrible state of mind again that I experienced most prominently around 14-15. This is also why I feel like I've been studying less. Because nowadays I will only study/practice out of inspiration and joy as opposed to compulsion/desire like in my past.

As for being in a band I can't say that I am sadly. I feel like there are certain things that I need to attain that I don't have right now before I'm ready to be in a band. For example I still only practice with this $100 amp which would be ridiculous to gig with. Transportation along with finding the right members is also an issue. I've jammed with a few musicians in my school however none of them really take music seriously enough to transform that into a successful performing band.
Last edited by dannydawiz at Jul 12, 2013,
#5
Quote by CelestialGuitar
I will honestly say, as someone who composes professionally, when you start writing great songs and pieces, it will get more stressful. The reason behind that is that you'll write a great piece of music, and then that piece will always be there, you'll always have to beat it, write something better, and nothing is more terrifying than the feeling that you've written your magnum opus, that nothing will be better. Of course, immense joy comes from finally discovering that better piece, but it does come with stress, fear and worry. However, when I compose professionally, these thoughts never enter my head. I'm not out to write a great piece of music, I'm out to serve a purpose. If someone wants a 2 minute dramatic orchestral piece, there is gonna be a lot of simple harmony, copy and pasting and ripping of Pirates of The Caribbean, because I want the pay to be worth my time. Of course, for a high profile job, I'll set out to create something brilliant, as I'll have been paid for that, but those huge jobs are few and far between, the chances of becoming the next Danny Elfman are probably lower than the chances of you winning the lottery, regardless of your talent.

That said, I believe that music truly gets enjoyable when you figure out what you want to do. As someone who has been through education in music, don't play Jazz or Blues or Classic Rock just because a lecturer twice your age tells you it's good. Play a genre because you enjoy it, if those genres are Jazz or Blues, or Classic Rock, play them. Personally, I'd rather listen to a recording of Jesus Christ Superstar than listen to Guns N Roses, and I'll take DragonForce over Miles Davies any day of the week, and I've found my happiness following what I enjoy.

Should you study music as a career? Look at your guitar and ask yourself 'Am I happy with whatever I do, whoever I am and whoever I will become, as long as this is in my hand?' If the answer is yes, do it. If the answer is no, then you need to make a plan. Now, I'm not going to lie and say that the only way to make money is to do things you dislike, I dislike a majority of popular music, and Jazz, so I'm making my money by composing orchestral music, teaching Expert level Neoclassical guitar and performing Symphonic Metal, but the amount of work that takes is ridiculous, things rarely stay still, you've got to find new clients, students and songs every week, and I've recently let music take a backseat to me pursuing a career in Musical Theatre, because I enjoy that more.

I don't mean to put you off, but I know how it feels to be 16 with a romanticised view of music, and being so disappointed, so you need to consider what you really want. And I must say, never let music be your sole hobby if it is your profession. If I hadn't discovered Musical Theatre and Fencing, I'd have went mad from sitting at a computer screen inputting notation and practicing new passages to a metronome for hours on end.


Don't be afraid to be honest with me about your point of view. I'd much rather hear from someone blunt and straightforward than have someone lie to me or sugarcoat me. As for which type of music excites me personally I would have to say most prominently Metal, Jazz Hip-Hop, Trance, and Orchestral pieces.

I'm very glad to hear that you've found a way to make a living regardless of all the work that you say is required on the side. As for whether I am happy with playing guitar is a tough question due to the fact that it has the potential in some cases to be one of my greatest joys.

If anything once I turn eighteen I'll get a normal job and then continue to pursue music on the side until I feel confident enough to maintain a living.

I feel like the general challenge that I need to overcome right now is to find the methods that I need to enjoy the present moment every time I pick up the guitar or compose music.

Regardless of whether I will ever make it in the business. Every other profession compared to music is boring to me. If I fail at this then I will most definitely fail in every other field out there. I don't really have a choice but to keep on studying and I would never be able to live with myself if i didn't at least try considering the thousands of hours I've already invested and the countless "childhood pleasures" I've already sacrificed.

I really do appreciate your honesty so I very much thank you for that,
#6
Quote by dannydawiz
I agree with you in the aspect that goals are important however I disagree about having good people around me in the sense that I sadly don't have any teachers out there to guide me aside from the people that I've met online on ultimate guitar.

The thing with setting goals for me is that in the past I've set goals for myself and as a result my whole life had become nothing but a constant fleet of living for the future. I could never enjoy the present moment because my mind was always in an "autopilot" of sorts. I would practice every day regardless of whether I enjoyed myself or not for hours on end. Time had become one of my top priorities which eventually caused me to be a very intense type of person.

As an example when I first went to high school, I joined my schools marching band as a guitar player in the front ensemble. The instructor would come and I would end up doing things that were completely irrelevant such as running laps, practicing fast instead of slow, focusing on speed instead of efficiency of movement. As a result of that intense state of mind I eventually became so upset with the program that I packed up my guitar and left because I felt like being there was simply a "waste of my practice time".

I eventually ended up with major depression which is when I decided I needed to stop and get my overall mentality straight again.

Where I ended up with all of that was discovering that life is about the journey and not the destination. If I didn't start enjoying my life now then the only time that I would be able to be satisfied would be during the brief periods of time that I attained the external circumstances that I wanted.

How this applies to goals is that any goal that I have I feel is irrelevant unless I can find a way to enjoy the process of attaining it.

This is one of the problems that I face now as well. Finding out how to balance my goals with enjoyable methods of reaching them. If I don't then I fear that I will end up in that terrible state of mind again that I experienced most prominently around 14-15. This is also why I feel like I've been studying less. Because nowadays I will only study/practice out of inspiration and joy as opposed to compulsion/desire like in my past.

As for being in a band I can't say that I am sadly. I feel like there are certain things that I need to attain that I don't have right now before I'm ready to be in a band. For example I still only practice with this $100 amp which would be ridiculous to gig with. Transportation along with finding the right members is also an issue. I've jammed with a few musicians in my school however none of them really take music seriously enough to transform that into a successful performing band.

regarding this, I'll lend you a quote from the Dali Lama. "Man… he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future, he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived." Learn from the past and prepare for the future, but don't forget to enjoy today.
Theory is just...wow. I'm getting a bit over my head by trying to learn so much w/o formal educators

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#7
Quote by dannydawiz
As for being in a band I can't say that I am sadly. I feel like there are certain things that I need to attain that I don't have right now before I'm ready to be in a band. For example I still only practice with this $100 amp which would be ridiculous to gig with. Transportation along with finding the right members is also an issue. I've jammed with a few musicians in my school however none of them really take music seriously enough to transform that into a successful performing band.

Your band doesn't need to be that serious. Playing in a band can be just for fun, it doesn't need to be business or anything. So I would just join a band. You don't need to gig, you can just play your favorite songs and have fun. I have been playing with my band for two years now and we have had two or three gigs (though in the future I think we are going to have more gigs). We play together because it's fun and write music because it sounds good (though I would say our band is pretty serious).
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
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#8
Quote by dannydawiz
If anything once I turn eighteen I'll get a normal job and then continue to pursue music on the side until I feel confident enough to maintain a living.

I feel like the general challenge that I need to overcome right now is to find the methods that I need to enjoy the present moment every time I pick up the guitar or compose music.

Regardless of whether I will ever make it in the business. Every other profession compared to music is boring to me. If I fail at this then I will most definitely fail in every other field out there. I don't really have a choice but to keep on studying and I would never be able to live with myself if i didn't at least try considering the thousands of hours I've already invested and the countless "childhood pleasures" I've already sacrificed.

I really do appreciate your honesty so I very much thank you for that,


I want to say this; Don't go into employment when you're 18. You need to study to get a profession, because, in the end, that's what will get you money. You wanna be a musician? Try and find a passion in music that pays. If you have a passion for teaching, do it, if not, find something else you are passionate about. It sounds like you've given up so much to be a good musician that you've forgot to pursue other pathways. Even at my worst when I was 16, locking myself up in practice rooms with Dream Theater tab books and not going to lunch at school, I was always writing, as that's another thing I'm passionate about. You sound so down about this, through the sacrifices and hours of practice I bet you haven't even tried to do anything else.
#9
Quote by CelestialGuitar
I want to say this; Don't go into employment when you're 18. You need to study to get a profession, because, in the end, that's what will get you money. You wanna be a musician? Try and find a passion in music that pays. If you have a passion for teaching, do it, if not, find something else you are passionate about. It sounds like you've given up so much to be a good musician that you've forgot to pursue other pathways. Even at my worst when I was 16, locking myself up in practice rooms with Dream Theater tab books and not going to lunch at school, I was always writing, as that's another thing I'm passionate about. You sound so down about this, through the sacrifices and hours of practice I bet you haven't even tried to do anything else.


I see what you're saying completely. I should try and at least keep my eyes open to the different possibilities that are out there instead of thinking that there is only music.

The only thing aside from music that I can say I enjoy is reading about the learning process. I've read so many books on behavior change, motor skills, changing habits, knowledge application, 20/80 rule, and memory encoding/recall that it's gotten to the point where being in public schools disgust me. I can't stand watching the majority of public school teachers teach due to the extreme lack of the application of in-class principles.

There are a lot of other things that bother me but the point being is that I have always had an extreme passion/desire for the process of learning/behavior change that probably grew out not having anyone in my childhood to ever teach me anything. What I've always loved most is that learning "how to learn" has always been applicable to everything and not just music.

I very much enjoy contemplating more efficient methods of learning so this could apply well to teaching and neuroscience. Aside from that I can't really say that there is anything else that excites me other than music. Although I have this awareness I often find it hard to apply these principles considering that it takes an awful lot of self control.

Regardless though writing this post I've discovered that I actually have two passions so thank you for bringing me to that awareness.

Is it not reasonable though to get a normal job when I'm 18 and use that money to study on the side? What are your thoughts on this?
#10
Quote by eric_wearing
regarding this, I'll lend you a quote from the Dali Lama. "Man… he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future, he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived." Learn from the past and prepare for the future, but don't forget to enjoy today.


Funny that you mention the Dali Lama and that quote because I ended up learning that same thing after I was done reading a book called "The Power Of Now". It definitely changed my beliefs and perspective of life to an extreme extent. My ambition as a young teenager led me to live for the future and thankfully I'm out of this state of mind nowadays.
#11
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Your band doesn't need to be that serious. Playing in a band can be just for fun, it doesn't need to be business or anything. So I would just join a band. You don't need to gig, you can just play your favorite songs and have fun. I have been playing with my band for two years now and we have had two or three gigs (though in the future I think we are going to have more gigs). We play together because it's fun and write music because it sounds good (though I would say our band is pretty serious).


In that case that narrows the problem down only to members. Definitely makes things a lot easier! I need a bassist and a vocalist! I'll consider this in the future thank you for this.
#12
Quote by dannydawiz
Is it not reasonable though to get a normal job when I'm 18 and use that money to study on the side? What are your thoughts on this?


Yeah, of course. The thing is, you get so many 18 year olds who go to work in a guitar shop instead of going through some kind of education, and they're still there after ten years, they're still there after twenty years. If you want some part time work for money to finance it, great, but don't put work above your education just yet, you never know, you might happen upon some good freelance jobs that require little hours and give a lot of money. In one month I was earning the equivalent of 100 dollars an hour, and that really let me take the next step in my playing. May I suggest studying Sociology or Psychology, though? It sounds like it's right up your street as they say, and if you studied music in your own time along with that, you could be an unbelievable teacher, and it sounds like you're so passionate about it.
#13
Quote by CelestialGuitar
Yeah, of course. The thing is, you get so many 18 year olds who go to work in a guitar shop instead of going through some kind of education, and they're still there after ten years, they're still there after twenty years. If you want some part time work for money to finance it, great, but don't put work above your education just yet, you never know, you might happen upon some good freelance jobs that require little hours and give a lot of money. In one month I was earning the equivalent of 100 dollars an hour, and that really let me take the next step in my playing. May I suggest studying Sociology or Psychology, though? It sounds like it's right up your street as they say, and if you studied music in your own time along with that, you could be an unbelievable teacher, and it sounds like you're so passionate about it.


It definitely sounds like a great suggestion and I thank you putting in the time to recommend it to me. The two topics you've mentioned have always been at a higher interest level to me in comparison to other things. I might discover something new throughout the whole process.

I'll get myself a book on the subjects and see if they go anywhere. Thanks for helping me come to that realization!
#14
Hi Danny,

I might be able to offer a few insights...

Whenever you get into something, and you begin to see it in all the little details, it often looses the original beauty and mystery... sort of like looking at a painting too close. Then it starts to seem like just a mechanical skill and the beauty gets lost.

The truth is that, as a performer, you sacrifice the mystery and make it into a mechanical skill so that others can get the pleasure out of it. Your reward is then in other forms... fame and fortune, and the gratitude and admiration of others.

It's a rare day now when I really get into the sound of my playing and drift off to that happy world that first attracted me to music and inspired me to play... and I'm not a pro who gets paid either, so sometimes I wonder why I'm even bothering. When I get in that sort of mood, it's time for a "mental health break" so to speak... a little time away from the guitar.

The good thing is I always come back, and over time I get a little better. Having others to play with, and to have a few beers with afterwards can also lend another aspect of enjoyment to it.

One big plus is that you're 16... you have enough time to get really good at it (or just about anything that you might want to...). I'm 60, have arthritus in my fingers, and not enough time left to start into anything new. I would love to go back to school and get a law degree for example, but my age is against me. So be glad you have at least 40-50 years left, to learn music or just about any profession you wish. Just plan well, be patient, stick to it, and by the time you're 30 or 40, you'll be sitting pretty.

Best of luck,

Jean
#15
Quote by Prescott_Player
Hi Danny,

I might be able to offer a few insights...

Whenever you get into something, and you begin to see it in all the little details, it often looses the original beauty and mystery... sort of like looking at a painting too close. Then it starts to seem like just a mechanical skill and the beauty gets lost.

The truth is that, as a performer, you sacrifice the mystery and make it into a mechanical skill so that others can get the pleasure out of it. Your reward is then in other forms... fame and fortune, and the gratitude and admiration of others.

It's a rare day now when I really get into the sound of my playing and drift off to that happy world that first attracted me to music and inspired me to play... and I'm not a pro who gets paid either, so sometimes I wonder why I'm even bothering. When I get in that sort of mood, it's time for a "mental health break" so to speak... a little time away from the guitar.

The good thing is I always come back, and over time I get a little better. Having others to play with, and to have a few beers with afterwards can also lend another aspect of enjoyment to it.

One big plus is that you're 16... you have enough time to get really good at it (or just about anything that you might want to...). I'm 60, have arthritus in my fingers, and not enough time left to start into anything new. I would love to go back to school and get a law degree for example, but my age is against me. So be glad you have at least 40-50 years left, to learn music or just about any profession you wish. Just plan well, be patient, stick to it, and by the time you're 30 or 40, you'll be sitting pretty.

Best of luck,

Jean


I'm happy to hear words coming from someone your age Jean!

What you said here in the first paragraph made a lot of sense to me. In fact I must consider it a moment of clarity after thinking about it a bit. I've always been a firm believer that when you get into something your appreciation of the subject increases due to the fact that your awareness of all those "little details" allows you to perceive it in a different way.

I remember when I first really started listening to music I never really understood why I liked the things that I did. I would hear a guitar solo and even though I couldn't recognize all the techniques being performed I was still attracted to certain things. Nowadays I can recognize almost immediately what I'm listening to whether its a technique or a chord progression.

Although I'm grateful to have this increased awareness, I also must agree that listening to music does lack the mysterious feeling that it once used to give me. The idea of looking at a painting to close resonated with me very well. I suppose that it's important to keep in mind that before discovering all of the little "mechanical details" it is the art itself where the joy comes from first.

That was among one of the top ten realizations I've come to throughout this whole year. What I like most about it is that it isn't just applicable to music but to any skill in general.

Thank you for taking the time to write that post out for me.
Last edited by dannydawiz at Jul 14, 2013,
#16
Even if you just jam with a bassist or another guitarist or a drummer, try to play with other people. When I get to play with others and create something new with my own personal stamp as well as others, it does a lot for my inspiration. You remind me of me- I tend to be very picky about things I write, not really giving them time to develop. If I don't really like something ill just toss it and start over. But playing with other people, its different. Sometimes its a killer drum groove or a soulful/stylish solo that makes my cheesy riff into the coolest thing since sliced bread (to me anyways, I'm sure many others wouldn't think so ^_^ . )Its easy to judge your own work and get down about it, but with others it turns into something that not just you were part of, and it becomes easier to like because our self-criticism is inhibited somewhat. It stops you from over analyzing before you actually hear the music that can be made. At least to me, that may not entirely apply to you as you are a different person (to state the obvious).

So my advice is to play with others. Even if its just you and a dude that can rock out on the triangle, it can really help inspire. Okay, don't take my word on the triangle part- but you get the idea. Good luck and keep it up. From the sound of things, you're beyond many kids at your age both in skill and maturity. You've got a lot of time for a lot of things to work out for you.

One last tip: Jean had a good point. Sometimes a little break can be a good thing. Take a couple days if you're not feeling inspired, just go do something different and come back to it with a clear mind.
#17
You guys are serious as ****. And Robert Fripp is my favorite musician (arguably one of the most serious musicians around).

Personally I think the best thing anyone in any field can do is shut off the "me" factor. I would say It's not so much about your personal development or how your peers view your work, but how the energy which you very well know you possess, interacts with the energy around you; question is, will you let it?

We don't need to be so quick to judge, so damn hasty, as we human beings are 99.99% of the time. There's a lot of love to be felt in this existence, but it seems to me that the majority of the time we move too fast and pass it right over; there is far too much insecurity among us peoples, this only serves to cripple communication. Alas, this is the nature of our society and so 'art' remains a 'mystery' and is only appealing to certain 'cultures' instead of a haven for humanity.