In the mind of Nate

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Approach Anxiety

   This title may suggest that this post is about the feeling a guy or girl has when they approach someone that they are attracted to for the first time hoping to strike up a conversation. But, I'm afraid it is not about that for the most part. I am speaking mainly about trying to learn a new song that someone else has written. This can also help those that are thinking of picking up an instrument for the first time. One of the hardest things I have noticed with my students was that they are not used to having guitar playing as part of their everyday routine and hence they don't practice as much.Or they become frustrated early on that they don't know many songs. But the more you pratice, the better you become and the easier it will become to learn songs(sometimes,it happens by accident just from fiddling around,the start of learning a song by ear-no sheet music or instruction needed)Many people sometimes hear a song on the radio & are so intimidated by the artist's prowess that they never even try to learn the piece, thinking "I'll never be able to play that". Much like the guy who sees a very good looking women at the bar and immediately says to himself "She will never want to talk to me".

  Approach anxiety is such a big issue that professional pick up artists, like my old friend Brad P have seminars on how to overcome it. Unfortunately, we musicians don't have any such methods to defeat our anxiety when desiring to learn a new song (and I'm sure many musicians would never attend such a seminar, based on their egos alone) So, I guess we musicians just have to buckle down and overcome our anxiety on our own, with no outside help. Like approaching a member of the opposite sex, you ask yourself "what's the worst that can happen?", She is just a person like me and I know how to speak to people, or in this case it's just a song and I know how to play an instrument. Of course in most cases, learning a new song won't get you dirty looks from someone's boyfriend that stepped into the bathroom for a minute or the cold shoulder from someone. So, just think of the positive outcome and of how great it will feel be to be able to play the song. It will help you with your own songwriting as well.

   I unfortunately picked up a bad habit years ago after jamming with an older, more seasoned guitar played who stated "I don't concentrate on other people's stuff". Trying to write my own music, I got less and less interested in playing some staple rock songs, unless my band was going to perform them. I think what really got me intimidated is all the changes in many songs, Not every song has 2 simple parts, some have lots of changes. But you need to remember : you are doing this at you own pace and for fun.
   The best approach is to break up the song and learn it piece by piece. Go over each riff until you have mastered it and then piece them all together. Also, recognize what method of learning works best for you. If you can can learn it by ear after listening to the song (which in some cases is the most difficult)or you if know how to read sheet music or like use guitar tabs than use one of these approaches. Some people prefer video lessons, so they can see each thing being played by another person that has mastered the song already. But with any method, make sure you are learning it the right way.
  Right now, I am learning how to play a song by the Rolling Stones called "Angie" At first I printed out guitar tabs and, I noticed some mistakes when I played the original, and afterwards adopted my own "fake version". Since that wasn't doing it for me anymore, and I really wanted to challenge myself and break some old bad habits, I found a really good video that teaches you how to play it the way I suggested most people learn a new song: piece by piece. To learn the song, you have to watch a few videos, but it is well worth it because you will learn it the right way.
   I hope this helps with your song playing, and whether or not you are looking to play "Angie", take a look at this video to see this very effective method that Matt uses to teach songs.

Enjoy, Nate

Saturday, July 6, 2013


In music, everyone will point out your flaws, unless you are the Rolling Stones

After my last post, I noticed that I didn’t get much response from people as some of my previous posts. Even with a video,and it being my Birthday. But, I did realize that in my hast to not waste my day as I rushed off to see the Hangover 3 that I made several grammatical and typographical errors.

Which brings me to my topic of choice, Failure.I really was shocked that some of my regular readers did not even comment. However, as stated previously I made many errors and looked at what I created in the eyes of a first time reader. Some one who was careless enough to not examine his work and present it in an orderly fashion shouldn’t expect to be taken seriously(from now on I will be even more meticulous when it comes to my final edit,lesson learned). As far as my regular readers, many people are away,planning trips and what not. You can never let one flop be your last post,last album,show,whatever. Because than, that’s how you were remembered.

Allow me to give you some unusual examples of "Failure". Michael Jordan, probably the best basketball player of all time was cut from his High School basketball team. Unbelievable isn't it? Walt Disney was swindled out of his first creation as an animator and on his train ride home he starting sketchy a quirky little mouse named Mickey that is now the most famous cartoon character in history(not to mention helping launch an empire that is going strong til this day that includes,TV,Movies,Toys,clothing and theme parks). And here is another : Elvis Presley was told these exact words after only one performance at the Grand Ole Opry : "You ain't goin' nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin' a truck."

The Common thread? None of these people let this rattle them, they kept focused on what their passion in life was and found a way to overcome obstacles. I know these are some extreme examples,but any one that has a success story has over a thousand stories of how things didn't work out for them at first. Recently, a friend had asked how much time is enough in order to work on something,and particularly how do you gauge your success? I haven’t answered this question yet because I was still brood over it. But, I can say this though that if its something you love doing don't let the outside world's gauge of success determine whether or not you failed. In today's world this is very hard(how many times have you seen your Facebook feed,seeing what you peers are up to and became depressed)or telling yourself ": by this age I should have done this,written this,been here"-more on this in a bit. You are still learning and figuring out how to develop your skills. This same person showed me how the process can be enjoyable and that it is great to just be learning. Not to mention, let something sit for awhile or "sleeping on it" may help breathe new life into something. An opportunity that was not here yesterday may arrive tomorrow and later maybe the time for this project.

When it comes to this relating to music, you need to understand that the business has changed dramatically. We all see the Hollywood side of how the Beatles,Elvis,the Doors,the Beach Boys,Black Sabbath and many others appeared to be "overnight sensations". Many of these people were young and signed contracts that ended up costing them tons of money(do you really think some teenagers from Birmingham England would know anything about law or the music business in the early 70s?). Also, it is a crap shoot that someone will be in the audience that could influence your career. After seeing all these people succeed and having pie in the sky expectations of how great it will be to a huge success,did you ever stop and realize what a toll this takes on your personal life,health(both mentally and physically).Also, Hollywood producers make a movie about entertainers, to entertain an audience and keep their attention in a 90 minute span so they can make money,of course they are going to focus on the most glamorous parts of becoming successful. No one would go see a Movie about a band if they showed 90 minutes of someone trying to write songs locked in their apartments, or making dozens of phone calls to band mates or people that book shows,or trying to deal with real life stuff like the rest of us do such as working an actual job, paying bills,etc.

Success can effect us negatively as well. It can make us forget who we are or why even started doing what we became successful at in the first place. Many people who get even a taste of success develop a huge ego, start to not appreciate those who helped them get to where they are in the first place(even their own families).Most likely,in time that kind of smug attitude will catch up to most "stars" and hit them where it hurts,their wallets. After all, the fans got you where you are and if you don’t treat them right they will just stop buying from you.

Always remember, if you are still out there doing it you have not failed. Success takes time, self assurance,honesty and examination. And of course in this day and age, knowledge of how the business works(I promise you a blog in this to make it a bit easier). I deal with lots on criticism, some I take as a constructive, some I see as someone who is self motivated to cut others down to build themselves up by trying to diminish the accomplishments of others. If they like wasting their energy on that, let them and keep moving ahead. In music, everyone will point out your flaws, unless you are the Rolling Stones.

For more Famous people who failed at first see this
And of course my favorite all time motivational montage, by the world's Greatest Underdog, Rocky Balboa Enjoy(if this doesn't stir something inside you,you maybe dead,lol):