Seeking a "voice" Part 3
Victor Wooten in Developing your musicianship video has some interesting thoughts. He echoes the idea from the previous Berklee video about intention. He even discusses some of the same artists.
He downplays skill in the beginning of discovering your voice. Hmmm, I'm not so sure about that. Sophisticated music needs sophisticated skills.
He quotes Chick Corea, a truly expert improvisor with a unique voice, that only 30% of his improvisations are truly improvised, the rest is vocabulary and things previously worked out or prepared. In short, he prepares much of the music ahead of time in the practice studio and then in the moment sees what happens.
Victor thinks musicians practice too much and don't play enough. Wise words, making music with others really brings it all home in real time.
Time to develop my own drum phrases and have them in reserve, I guess.
I’ve been drumming for 12 years and a professional musician for 45 years. I’ve been around. With the drums I can now play with confidence in the situations I find myself: Jazz, Rock, Country, Studio, New Music, and rudimental concert band work. Every week I share my knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm with my drum students. It is a blast!
Am I ready for a world tour? No. Have I reached my musical goals? No.
The quest to develop a musical voice.
A short aside. Many musicians desperately want to sound like someone else. They are anxiously chasing a sound. Someone else’s sound. But as my early mentor pianist Bill King would say, “haven’t we already made that record?” Life is too short to retell someone else’s story I say. But before you can work on this voice, a few things need to happen.
Deliberately developing one’s voice will be the focus of this blog over the fall and winter of 2021-2022.
It won't be easy. Going stale, losing interest in things, aging out, and other maladies are well known and well documented in aging adults. What can one do to stay in the game?
1. Stay fit or get fit. Creativity takes energy. Fight like hell to stay upright. But work with what you've got. Your high school track days are over. Accept this gracefully and with your doctor's advice, get to the gym.
2. Stay connected. Friends matter. Who you hang with matters even more. Are the folks in your orbit "in the game" or are they lazy, burned out, narrow minded, and in denial of reality? If they are, I'd make a move.
3. Take on new challenges. Start with your tech. Learn to use your phone, tablet, and laptop like a pro. It's not hard, start on YouTube and get busy. Working with senior adults who can't do even simple tasks is heartbreaking to see as a teacher. Tech literacy is a real thing. Incompetency with your gadgets is an impediment to being creative, connecting with other creatives, and just participating in modern life.
4. Learn something new. Take some lessons on your instrument, go all in. Learn a new instrument even. I'm working with a bass teacher this summer learning the basics of Country music bass lines in the music of the 1950s and 60s. My appreciation of that period of American music has grown. I hear it with fresh ears.
5. Do something new. I'm deep in the breakfast piano minute series. I've been creating 1 minute daily postings. It's been fun. It is leading to lots of new connections, and it encourages some daily creative effort. I've learned about camera lighting, video editing, and much more. And folks like them. I've a new and growing audience on social media.
If I can help you find some new creative activities, call me.
"Everyone used to learn by trial and error, we all had our own slightly wrong ways of doing things"
This may have cut it in the past. But not today. Engage a teacher, take a course, find some humility. The competition is fiercer that ever. Nothing is worse as an aging musician that not to know you don't know.
Ari Hoenig, jazz drummer
Lessons from a Master teacher
Effective Practicing For Musicians By Benny Greb Book Review
It arrived, I've read it, I'm about to try it out for 90 days and see what happens to my drumming.
Benny outlines the rationale of organized practice is a humorous and unique way. The preamble until you get to his EPM systems chapters is good sense and common knowledge among professional musicians. But it gets interesting with his practice system.
Let's start at the beginning.
Organizing your practice space. He recommends imagining the setup of your perfect space, then assess your situation and arrange you space as close as you can to this ideal. I can now say my space looks different. I'm up and running now with 3 flicks of switches, boot my DAW, load the preset and Bingo, I'm ready to go. Books are in place, pencil and journal are ready. Up next a kitchen timer, I'm going to use an old iPhone for this purpose. Benny Greb has some true insights into learning.
1. Quickly name your favorite musicians of your instrument.
2. Now note what you admire about each of them.
3. Now consider your top 3 choices.
4. Now rate yourself 1 to 10 on your skill with the qualities you admire in their playing. Do not give yourself a 5.
5. Now when you practice, practice those to improve those qualities.
6. Buy his book.
Stayed tuned for the results of his 90-day practice regime.
"Without desire, there is nothing to work with"
So much proverbial ink has been spilled on the topic of motivation and motivating the unmotivated.
"Intrinsic motivation is motivation that is animated by personal enjoyment, interest, or pleasure. As Deci et al. (1999) observe, “intrinsic motivation energizes and sustains activities through the spontaneous satisfactions inherent in effective volitional action."
Author: Emily R Lai
Cited by: 83
Publish Year: 2011
This is an interesting article for all musicians and teachers. Some of the research driven theories covered include the role self-belief or " self-efficacy plays in success. Self-efficacy is the “judgments of how well one can execute courses of action required to deal with prospective situations”.
And, the role of the desire to achieve an end for it's own reasons and the desire to impress, or draw favorable attention to one's self. As stated in the article, "mastery goals" or "performance goals". Intrinsic and extrinsic.
Regardless of the type of or nobility of the the desire, the strength of the desire leads to action or "volition". In other words getting off one's butt and moving forward in the belief it is possible.
Three months of reflection during isolation has yielded valuable insights.
I am sure you have gone through a similar experience.
So, I am still practicing. I also have sought out younger musicians to learn from as well. I am working out safe jamming practices/spaces for piano and guitar trios to meet.
The cinematic noise trio Fade/Dissolve will continue to produce work and post it online. Our newest work drops soon.
I will be taking a live online class in adult education next month. I am reading, creating, dreaming, and scheming.
It is going to be ok, but it is going to be different.
What's the coolest thing that could happen to your musical life in the next five years? I've answered this question, have you?
Fifth week, wow. An unknown number of weeks to go. Let's stay busy with positive activities.
This will end.
David Story: Professional pianist, drummer, composer, and educator. Well into his 5th enthusiastic musical decade, David works with adults pursuing musical dreams in the autumn of life, while he maintains an active presence in the Toronto arts scene.