Thursday, December 19, 2013

New Years resolutions...? More like Pushing the 'Reset' Button!

"The level of achievement that we have at anything is a reflection of how well we were able to focus on it."

Two things in the past two days have really hit home with me. They pushed the 'reset' button on my attitude and artistic vision. They stimulated me to revisit, rethink, and refresh my goals and direction for the near future.

The second was recommended by my friend Pat Pendleton, an article from the Huffington Post:
Art and Music Are Professions WorthFighting for

The Video
Steve Vai "How to be Successful"Private Sessions Guitar Center 
 I stumbled across this video while checking out various YouTube guitar lessons and whatnot. It really resonated with me. So much so that I sat down and transcribed the whole thing. Then I thought about it and worked on it and integrated the information into my own personal artistic vision and goals. 
I am going to post the transcription here, because I think that the information is powerful and profound, and that anybody in the arts; be it music, visual art, or whatever, would be well served to read, listen, and take this advice to heart.
I took what was relevant to me and my own artistic vision and path - and there was something valuable in every single sentence.
See what it offers you. Take what is said here - first in its original context, then as it applies to whatever creative pursuit you are involved in.

How do I become successful in music?

  • Identify with what it is that we really want.
    Because whatever it is you really want – that's what's gonna come out.
  • The thing that you're most comfortable with, that you do the best.
    I've got strengths and I've got weaknesses.
    I don't work on my weaknesses. I ignore them, and I cultivate my strengths.
  • The level of achievement that we have at anything is a reflection of how well we were able to focus on it.
    Because the only thing that is holding you back is the way that you're thinking.
  • Pick a song in your head that you'd like to be able to play; something that's within your reach.
    • Imagine, right now, that song.
    • Picture yourself playing it. That's the first part of the exercise in achieving it.
    • As you picture yourself playing it, imagine what it sounds like – perfectly.
    • See and hear yourself playing it – elegantly, beautifully – whether it's an aggressive metal track, whatever it is... see yourself playing it from beginning to end – perfectly, with confidence.
    • The more you're able to crystallize that vision, the more you're gonna become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Let's talk about practice. 
Let's talk about spending time to reach your goal.
Because I know the complaint. We have obligations in life, we have responsibilities, we have so many other things we have to do... how do we find time to play the instrument?
I recommend that you pick a time that's yours; a time when you shut off the cel phone, shut off the telephone, turn off the internet, and sit and focus on your goal.
Whenever you get discouraged, go to the big picture; go back to that place of excitement. That's how you get through it; you go to the big picture, go to the chief aim... because it's so crystallized in your head, that you know when you feel “I can't do this...” you know, you go back to that picture, and you can see yourself doing it.

Now you gotta put the work in.

It's no work – there's no work involved, because it's all a joy, because you know you're reaching your goal.
I never worked a day in my life, I mean with the guitar. I never struggled. Honestly. I've had a lot of challenges; I've been through a lot, but when it came to my feelings about what I do, and my (self?) so to speak, I never struggled a day in my life.
Because for me, playing the guitar was my juice.

So you break it down piece by piece by piece. And if it's a classical song, say, you go one bar at a time, then you go to the next bar, then you go to the next bar... Eventually, you'll be able to play through this piece of music – you won't play it great, but you'll be able to play through it.
That's when you gotta stick at it, stick at it, and keep playing it. Because at first it's getting your fingers in shape, it's getting all that. But then, once you 'own' this piece of music... then it flows, then it's like this whole other thing comes over you. It's this ability to become the music.

I have even more respect for Steve Vai now than I did before. This simple discussion encompasses artistic vision, practical goal-setting, perseverance, discipline, and spirituality in one elegant discourse. 

The Article

The article really hit home because it made me realize that in my life, everything else was "Plan B."
In other words, everything else I did was – and is – what was necessary in order to keep doing “Plan A” - which is Art and Music.
Read the article. I applaud Blake Morgan and agree with him 100%.