Tuesday, February 5, 2008

2007 - LESSONS LEARNED

Instead of sharing a list of resolutions for 2008, I wanted to list a few lessons that I learned or was reminded of in 2007 and make it a point to remember them in 2008.


AIM FOR THE MOON...

Cliché - I know. But I've made it my aim to achieve the best in what I do. It doesn't matter if I'm playing the piano, composing a new piece, or venturing into new territory by trying something completely new for me - like recording a track.

Always give it your best. This also means that if you have to work on projects with people, it is crucial to find someone that believes in the project and is as dedicated to it as you are. Otherwise it will turn into a waste of time for everyone.


MAKE LEMONADE...
Just because you give your best and you are 100% positive doesn't mean the result will be the next big thing.

During 2007 I have lost competitions, I didn't get all the concert gigs I wanted and I started last year with a huge music/internet project that flopped within 30 days.

If this happens, try to learn from your mistakes. Learn from your collaborator's mistakes. And Move on. Keep trying.

As the old saying goes... "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!"

THE POWER FROM ...AROUND YOU!
Whatever happens in your life - creatively, emotionally, physically - always learn to rely on those key people that give you reason & joy to live. These people are few. There's usually less than the number you can count on the fingers of your right hand. Keep them tight, make them feel special. Whenever everyone turns their back on you, they'll be loyal and support you.

PUT CRITICISM INTO PERSPECTIVE
Feedback is good. Criticism from someone who has 'been there done that' is good. But you must apply the theory of relativity to it. Negative words thrown against you should be taken for what they are - just words. If there is an element of truth, be humble and accept it. Otherwise be strong and reject it. Everyone has a different take on things which may not necessarily be the same as yours. But if you stand up for your beliefs, you will create something special - something that reflects YOUR creativity and YOUR identity.

A fascinating example: In 1962 conductor Leonard Bernstein and pianist Glenn Gould made history because of a major divergence in how Mr. Gould interpreted a piano concerto which was part of the standard symphonic repertoire.

He envisioned it drastically slower than any other performance. On the opening night, Bernstein spoke to the audience an said the following (copied straight from the original audio recording):

"...You are about to hear a rather, shall we say, unorthodox performance of the Brahms D Minor Concerto, a performance distinctly different from any I've ever heard, or even dreamt of for that matter... I cannot say I am in total agreement with Mr. Gould's conception and this raises the interesting question: "What am I doing conducting it?" ..."

And the speech went on. Now during their week of practice Mr. Gould could have either succumbed to Bernstein's view - thereby ending up with an excellent performance - or stuck to his original performance - which ended up becoming a piece of music history. Maybe his interpretation is not a favourite (it sure is not my favourite) but it does demonstrate how doing things your way - even if you have to fight for it - often leads to that unique something special.
(If it sucks, just admit to that and move on!)


DON'T DO BUSINESS WITH FRIENDS
...unless you put it in writing and be clear as to how things will develop. Because I trusted a friendship too much, I lost a ton of money from my CD sales, I lost precious recordings from a special live project and worst of all I lost a unique friendship. If you work closely with a friend - whether you're in a band or any other creative activities - establish right from the onset:

  • who will lead the project,
  • who carries what responsibilities,
  • how to divide the results of your efforts (money is tangible and quantifiable and can therefore be easily divided. Credits, authorship and other materials are harder to split!)


This will avoid issues and problems. If the project develops in the course of time, reassess how you both stand from time to time.


DONT' CATCH I.O.S (INFORMATION OVERLOAD SYNDROME)

I've spent a lot of time in 2007 reading music business books. Music marketing books. Music promotion books. I've spent hours searching the web and listening to people's viewpoints, reading strategies, looking at instructional videos. This takes a ton of time. And the worse part is that every day there's more information out there. There's more self-claimed music (or place the topic of interest here) guru's than ever before. That means that the web is bursting with frauds.

Searching the internet is the first step only. The second (and harder) thing to do is learning to sift the web - that is, identifying the (very) few valid & consistent resources that give you what you need.

If you need a hand on how to do this, check this previous blog I posted on this topic.

And then go back to concentrating on what you do best: make music.

Hope you find these useful!

I sure do and that's why 2008 will be my best music year ever.

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