On occasion an aspiring musician will approach me for advice on how to progress in one area or another in their journey. While I enjoy divulging whatever information I think would be helpful, I often notice a pattern in that kind of interaction. People are usually looking for some kind of “key” that will unlock things, a silver bullet, a magic pill.
Oddly enough, most people actually know what they need to work on, they just would rather avoid it if possible. We all want the path of least resistance, we all would rather avoid the hard work, avoid dealing with our weaknesses, our personalities.
More often these conversations end with some kind of dejected look, or a list of excuses of why my advice isn’t relevant to the person I’m speaking to, or how that it’s some kind of step to be taken “later”.
I am probably the worst offender, I am certain lots of people have given me fantastic advice, and I have not “heard” it, because my heart wasn’t ready, because I was still beholden to my silly ideas, my comfort zone.
In recent days, I have found it helpful to turn the tables on myself like this; if I came to myself for advice – what would I tell someone like me? The answers are awkward, heavy, uncomfortably loud.
I’d tell myself to go get a job.
I’d tell myself that lots of other people have been taking this (music) way more seriously than I have, for a very long time.
I’d tell myself that being excluded from the school band program was an excuse for not knowing much about music when I was twenty-two, but it’s not now.
I’d tell myself that if I wanted to keep making music, I need to take lessons, every week, and practice every day.
I’d tell myself to stop worrying about gear, and start worrying about whether it is better to be admired for owning cool stuff, or be respected for being able to make something great with whatever I have available.
I’d tell myself that I am capable of being one of the greats, but I have to accept the challenge of being great.
I’d tell myself to listen to my own advice before dishing it out so readily.
I’d tell myself to listen to the guy who told me recently that “booking shows isn’t your job! Your job is to make great music and write great songs – anybody can book that!”
I’d tell myself to read this quote from Jason Mraz every day:
“I don’t know a thing about how to make it in the music business. All I know is that I do what I love with all my heart, and because of this, the right people keep showing up in my life, over and over again. They take my love for music and turn it into a business. My job is to just keep creating and keep giving.”
I might even tell myself that I should listen to the dozens of people who have told me over the years that it’s a good idea to move to Nashville.