The Sonic Literacy Regional Tour And Other News

Hi everybody,

I hope this finds you well!

I just have a few updates that may be of interest to readers of this blog.

The “Sonic Literacy” “Tour”

I’ve decided to take a different approach to promoting my Minor Pentatonic book

theminorpentatonicscale-front

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and give a little something back to the local communities at the same time.  Growing up in upstate New York, I used to spend countless hours in public libraries just reading and feeding my brain.  I think they’re incredible resources that often get over looked, so I’m pulling together a “sonic literacy’ promotional tour that will go to regional libraries and present the material in the book in a short clinic / lecture format that’s free to the general public.  Hopefully it’ll introduce what I do to some people and perhaps it’ll get some people looking for a free lesson to reconnect to the resources that  they have on hand.

Dates are getting set, but I’m kicking it all off at The Gloversville Public Library on Saturday 12/14/13 at 12pm.  It’s only slated for an hour with set up so it should be short.  If you’re in the area, I hope you can drop by!

I’ll post more details when I have them.

In related news…

I have a few other projects in the works…. I’ve been hitting some open mikes in a low key fashion to try out some new acoustic material and it seems to be received fairly well, so that should get recorded soonish.

There are some live silent film accompaniment gigs lined up for 2014 -and I hope to have a unique spin on it but I’ll post more about those when I have more info.

Looking at some new ensemble ideas and pulling a solo set together in a worse-case scenario.  I’m also researching grants, funding and non-profit status for some of the longer-term projects but, again, more info when I have it.

Guit-A-Grip

The podcast is returning but in the meantime, I have a new post I put up about making the transition in self-definition as a “guitarist”.  It also ties into G.A.S. and some other holiday related observations.  You can check that out here.

Guitar-Muse

The Chris Buono interview went up last week.  You can check that out here.

The year will end out with a few reviews.  A review of the Zoom A3’s been submitted and should be up soon.  I have a piece about useful guitar related apps that will either go there or go up here and you might see a review of the Antonio Hermosa AH-50 classical acoustic-electric in time for the big guy to get it down the chimney for you.

Other

I’ve gotten some people asking me about the FnH website.  FnH IS still in business – they decided to overhaul the site, but if you e-mail info@fnhguitars.com you should still get someone to respond.  If it doesn’t work, just drop me a line and I’ll forward your message along to them.

John Harper (the H in FnH) has told me that some stuff is coming back my way – a new FnH model and just as exciting – my double neck fretted/fretless 13 lb monstrosity that he had to make 2 new necks for and completely re-do the wiring for is also due to come back!!  It bodes well for some serious sonic misgivings in 2014! ; )

Still trying to determine the scope of the practice book and the pentatonic extraction books but I think we’re good on more new books until 2014.

That’s it for now.  More news as it develops and as always, thanks for reading!

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Pre-Thanksgiving Updates

Hey everybody,

Just a few quick updates in chronological order.

Guit-A-Grip

Guit-A-Grip is going to have a refocus which will be of interest to readers interested in the Music Business side and career sustainability.

For those of you who have ever read a book and thought, “Hey I can do that!”  You probably can – but there are some things you might not have counted on.   My latest post on Guit-A-Grip shows a little accounting slight of hand from Amazon and details the good bad and ugly of self-publishing (replace the words “book” and “publishing” with “recording” and “music business” and many of the same observations apply) here.

There’s also a new podcast on project management up.  If you’ve decided to hit that New Years resolution early – this podcast might be of interest.

Guitar-Muse

A gear review of the Positive Grid Jam Up and Jam Up Pro app for iPhone and iPad got reviewed here and I would have had a review of their new BIAS software (which looks like the real deal) but my iPad was too outdated. Positive Grid IS working on an iPhone version and I should be testing that when the Beta version is out.  In the meantime you can read some overviews here.

TrueFire Guitar Guru Chris Buono sat down and gave an in-depth interview on teaching, performing, gear, endorsements and more.  That interview should be up on guitar-muse this Thursday.

It looks like there will be at least one more gear review, one more interview and one more lesson on Guitar-Muse before years end, and I’ll post that info when I have it.

A lost gig

Ah….I forgot – it turns out that the 1 gig I got to play with the Children of Mu project last year  was recorded by mastermind/drummer  Justin Wierbonski.  If you like the Onibaba stuff or the Daren Burns stuff you might dig this as well.

You can stream or download the track here.

“The Children of Mu live at Bar 4 from 7.12.12. 100% improvised. Recorded with an Optimus CTR-115 Hand Held Cassette Recorder and a Radio Shack 33-306 microphone.”

Steven Husted – Bass
John (Lavibora) Aleman – Guitar
Nick Herman – Percussion
Scott Collins – Guitar
Justin Wierbonski – Drums

Other

In the meantime, I’ve been playing some low key gigs and open mics to prep for some acoustic and electric recordings  I’m trying to get out the door by the end of the year, writing a book on practicing and editing the pentatonic extraction book.  It’s a lot coming down the pike but it’s good stuff and I hope you dig it!

As always, thanks for reading!

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Guit-A-Grip Podcast Episode #14 – Book Excerpt And Some Project Management Tips

Hello everyone!

Episode #14

Guit-A-Grip podcast episode #14 “Nothing Ever Got Done With An Excuse Excerpt #3″ is out and available for download/streaming.

Subscription Notes:

  • You can subscribe through iTunes here:
  • You can use this link to subscribe with any other feed based service:
  • or you can right-click here to download it.
  • or you can stream this episode below.
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Show Notes:

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The Book

Much of this section of the book came from experiences that I had in, first, getting my Melodic Patterns book written and then, secondly, getting the book in a month project off of the ground.

I’m using that book as a case study, but I believe that the steps behind it help form a reasonable approach to working on any large project that’s unfamiliar (or largely unfamiliar) to you.

The steps to follow:

I made a reference to various pieces of advice.  The overall categories of this are:

  • Build off of past experiences (or go with what you know)

  • Whenever possible start with the heavy lifting

  • Beware of the rope swing

  • Be realistic about what you can do

  • Break up overwhelming things into small chunks

  • Contortion doesn’t hurt if you’re limber

  • Projects have a tendency to run wild on their own – so plan on constantly monitoring their growth

  • Be prepared to go a lot of it on your own

  • Be ready to make a lot of mistakes

  • Be ready to improvise because you can’t plan for everything

  • Have a deadline and/or know when you’re done

  • You really can’t do it alone

    Here are a few specifics related to the above:

Beware of the rope swing
The advice I gave for this was a little too vague so here’s a qualifier.  It’s all about balance.  If you jump into something with no research, knowledge or plan, it will generally go badly.  If you put too much energy into research, you may face paralysis in actually acting.

Deadlines
I’d write more about this but I’ve already written on it here.

That’s it for now!

As always, I hope this helps you with your own goals.

See you soon and thanks again for listening/reading!

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Guit-A-Grip Podcast #13 – New Book “Excerpt” #2

Hello everyone!

Episode #13

Guit-A-Grip podcast episode #13 “Nothing Ever Got Done With An Excuse Excerpt #2″ is out and available for download/streaming.

Subscription Notes:

  • You can subscribe through iTunes here:
  • You can use this link to subscribe with any other feed based service:
  • or you can right-click here to download it.
  • or you can stream this episode below.
.

Show Notes

The Podcast and the liberal use of the term “Excerpt”

Part of working in a format like this is being able to review things that you wrote a while ago and seeing how they shake out in a conversational manner.  That means that when I’m reading the book I’m editing the text in my head to prevent really awkward (or wrong things from being said.  It also makes for some stilted moments, but the good news it that it tightens up both the podcast and the book in the process.

I’ll talk more about why I do this in the future but (editing this down from a lumbering 23 minutes) I’m hoping to convince you that there is a method to my madness (or vice-versa).

The steps to follow:

Just to recap, these are the steps I reference in the podcast (I skipped a few of them on the audio!!!)  Good thing it’s an edit!

How to manage a project in a few broad strokes

  • Have a clear vision of what you want to do (set quantifiable goals).
  • Align perception with reality and create priorities (in other words make an honest assessment of what needs to happen to reach those goals)
  • Set deadlines and benchmarks.
  • Be accountable.
  • Do daily focused work on those goals and limit distractions and obstacles in the way of achieving them.
  • Make periodic reviews to check your project’s status against the benchmarks and timeline.
  • Utilize available resources when possible/necessary.

Come prepared:

I should have taken a page from the Boy Scouts this time around and been better prepared for a podcast.  Then, perhaps, I would have had something novel like water handy and not had either a coughing fit (edited out) or the scrath voice that comes in mid-way to the podcast before I started coughing.

Related material:

Most of the observations on this site, will work in directly with the podcast posted here.  But the two links I cited specifically were:

It’s not all gold and

Podcast Episode #12

That’s it for now!

As always, I hope this helps you with your own goals.

See you soon and thanks again for listening/reading!

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My New (Free) Melodic Minor Extraction Lesson Is Now Up On Guitar-Muse

Hello everybody!

The Power of Pentatonic Extraction

I’ve posted a few times about one of the new books that I’m working on, Pentatonic Extractions, and I’m really psyched about how its coming together so far.  It’s going to cover a lot of material in an easy and accessible way and make a great addition to the series.

But you’ll get to see what I’m talking about yourself as the good people at Guitar-Muse.com have been kind enough to allow me to adapt some material from Pentatonic Extractions for a lesson on the site.  There’s theory, audio and tab for some ideas that will probably get you shooed of the next open blues jam – but I really dig ’em and I hope you will too!  You can check that out here.

More on that Muse of Guitar

All of the audio examples were recorded with the JamUp Pro app by Positive Grid which is just an incredibly useful app.  I’ll have a full review for that coming up for Guitar-Muse, along with some other reviews, player profiles and interviews.

And For those of you who wish to guit a grip….

Guit-a-grip is going to be serializing chapters from my book, Nothing Ever Got Done With An Excuse, which chronicles the processes and observations I used to release the first four books of the GuitArchitecture series in 5 months.  If you want to get a hold on a project (or a late new-years resolution), this series will definitely help motivate you and keep you on track.  Look for a new podcast this week.

More soon!  As always, thanks for reading!

Guit-A-Grip Podcast #12 – New Book Excerpt #1

Hello everyone!

The New Book?

Yep!  I have a few new books that I’m working on, and the non-guitar instructional book, Nothing Ever Got Done With An Excuse (Or a case study in how to plan projects and get things done).  is all about several large scale projects that I got done (such as releasing 4 books of 1,200 + pages of writing in 5 months of 2011/2012).

You’re Podcasting this?

Yep!  A large component of the book is accountability so there are several advantages to podcasting the bulk of the book.

  1. It builds an audience for the book.
  2. It gives me a framework (and deadlines) for editing the material.
  3. Like I said in the podcast (re: pedagogy for pay and the flamenco dance teaching model) even if the ENTIRE book was put up online, there are people that will still want a book of the material.

Episode #12

Guit-A-Grip podcast episode #12 “Nothing Ever Got Done With An Excuse Introduction And Overview Excerpt” is out and available for download/streaming.

Subscription Notes:

  • You can subscribe through iTunes here:
  • You can use this link to subscribe with any other feed based service:
  • or you can right-click here to download it.
  • or you can stream this episode below.
.

Show Notes

The (other) Book

The writing book I reference in the podcast is Chris Baty’s, No Plot? No Problem!  A low-stress, high-velocity guide to writing a novel in 30 days. There are a bajillion Kindle titles for outputting an ebook quickly, but Chris’ book is the granddaddy of them in my humble opinion.

The Harvard Study:

The study I cited in the podcast was from a source that quoted,  What They Don’t Teach You in the Harvard Business School, by Mark McCormack.  Funny story, this site contends that the data is largely fabricated and based on a non-existant 1953 Yale study! (It then goes on to cite another study that came to the same conclusion).  So take that for what it’s worth because if the original study anecdote WAS fabricated – I can’t even fathom the number of people who must have cited the McCormack reference of it (or a reference to the reference) by now.

“There are only 12 notes and they take forever to learn.”

This is just a reminder.  If the new habits you’re trying to acquire are outside your comfort zone, you’ll need to review your game plan often.

The Steps to follow:

WOW!  It turns out that I was reading from an earlier draft of the book and missed a few steps!  Here’s a case where it pays to check out the website as well as the podcast.  ; )  I changed the below from first person to passive to make it more applicable to the reader.

How to manage a project in a few broad strokes

  • Have a clear vision of what you want to do (set quantifiable goals).
  • Align perception with reality and create priorities (in other words make an honest assessment of what needs to happen to reach those goals)
  • Set deadlines and benchmarks.
  • Be accountable.
  • Do daily focused work on those goals and limit distractions and obstacles in the way of achieving them.
  • Make periodic reviews to check your project’s status against the benchmarks and timeline.
  • Utilize available resources when possible/necessary.

That’s it for now!

See you soon and thanks again for listening/reading!

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An Unusual Capo Variation And Milking A Vamp

Hey everyone!

I haven’t posted a lesson in a while here – so I though I’d post a really quick one for getting some mileage out of a single chord vamp.  This is a little something I improvised on a tune for a live performance that’s now a loop based riff I build on live with a tentative title of, “remedial looping”.

That E Minor thing

First, let me take a BIG cue from my harmonic combinatorics book.  When I look at an E minor chord – harmonically I see something like this:

E Minor Harmonization

So whether it’s an E minor/ Em7 / Em9 / Emin 11 (b13) – I know that playing any notes from the E natural minor/G major scale will get be SOME variation of the above chords.

As a start let’s look at an E minor 7 chord:

E minor 7

Interesting observation – if I look at the barred notes on the 5th fret:

5th fret barre

The notes are all found in the parent scale.  If I think of this voicing as a virtual capo and drop some of the notes on the 7th fret of the E minor chord to the 5th fret I get this really cool chordal cluster:

E min 7 (add 11 add b13)

Going further – I could use open strings instead of the 5th fret and get a less clustered sound.  Instead, I decided to flip my capo around and use it as a partial capo on the second fret so that the low E string would ring out unobstructed but the rest of the notes on the second string would be fretted by the capo.

2nd Fret Partial Capo

Using the same idea as the previous example here’s the same modified Emin7 shape using notes on the 2nd fret instead of the 7th fret.

E min 7 sus 4

Make sure to play through those clusters individually as there are some good sounds there!

Put it together in a little string slaps for percussive effect and you have a little groove like this:

E min vamp

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Note:  I play the notes on the B and D strings with the 3rd and 4th finger while I move the capo.  How I attack the D-E at the end of each measure will depend on fingering.  Sometimes I’ll slide and some times I’ll hammer on.

This is a pretty simple idea, but there are a few challenges with executing it cleanly.  Just remember to pay attention to the 3 T’s (Timing, Tone and (hand) Tension) and be aware of your finger position to make sure that the strings all ring out.

File under – a little theory can go a long ways!  I’ve left a number of variations out of the lesson to have one simple thing for you to develop on your own.

Good luck!

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PS for those of you who are interested – this was tracked on my iPhone with the JamUp Pro app and a Line 6 Sonic Port interface.  A review of the Jam Up app will be up in the weeks ahead on Guitar-Muse.

Guit-A-Grip Episode #11 – “Deeper and Deeper”

Hello everyone!

The Return Of The Podcasts?!?

So I took some time off from podcasting to evaluate the podcasts and re-assess.  The original idea of the podcasts was to bring people outside of what I normally do into my work, but it appears to just siphon traffic from guitarchitecture.org.

I’m re-thinking the purpose of the site with that in mind, and I’ve committed to podcasting  here at least until the end of the year while I refine the focus of the podcasts and see what happens.

In the meantime…

Episode #11

Guit-A-Grip podcast episode #11 “Deeper and Deeper” is out and available for download/streaming.

Subscription Notes:

  • You can subscribe through iTunes here:
  • You can use this link to subscribe with any other feed based service:
  • or you can right-click here to download it.
  • or you can stream this episode below.
.

Show Notes

This is a short podcast, so I’ll just fill in a few points.

Deeper and Deeper:

This was the name of a track of a band called The FIXX that was hugely influential on me.  When I got their Reach The Beach album, I played it so many times that the vinyl grew thin.  While I was listening to it, I was listening deeply to how the guitar parts would drive some tunes and just lay back and sit in the pocket on other tunes.  Jamie West-Oram, their guitarist, would become a really big influence on me as he made me realize the concept of playing a supporting role in a band.  Knowing where where slide, keyboard line and vocal inflection was on the record came from deep listening and changed how I viewed my own roles in playing with other people.

I’ll talk about this more in a future podcast, but when people smile that nonsensical smug guru smile and say things like, “the answer lies within” it tells me that they only understand part of the equation.

Ultimately, only you can provide your own answers, but you’re never going to come up with intelligent answers if you’ve never investigated anyone else’s solutions but your own.  People left to their own devices with no external input of any kind typically don’t become Buddha, they become dull and dim-witted and develop “facts” based on little more than observation.  Babies don’t come out of the womb fully formed.  They have to be exposed to language (i.e. copy language) to master it and ultimately come up with their own original ideas.

Going deep into something and loosing yourself into it, can be a way to go deeper into yourself if you learn lessons from the process or gain insights from what’s happening.

Repetition:

“There are only 12 notes and they take forever to learn.”

I think that a good philosophy has to have simple truths at it’s core in order to be actionable (and thus be a philosophy).  My guitar system, GuitArchitecture, is based on a handful of modular approaches that can be adapted to a variety of formats.  My philosophy is the same.  It’s based on a handful of ideas that I’ll repeat here over and over.

And I do that because some of them will take forever to learn.

In this process, I’m always falling back into old habits – the difference is that I can now usually identify what’s happening and I just don’t stay in those places for as long as I used to.

Music is about the destination and the process.  I wrote this blog, and podcast and teach because I’ve been fortunate enough to make a vast number of mistakes (large and small) and hopefully I can help other people not make the same mistakes I did.

More Next Time:

As always, thanks for visiting, reading and listening.  I hope you get something out of the podcast, and if you like the series please drop a line sometime.

See you soon and thanks again!

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PS – Here are some Fixx tracks to get you through the day!
(Just skip the ads):
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Deeper and Deeper (Not much guitar in the mix but a great track)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIi79BHQ1ps
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Saved By Zero (Check out all of the neat fills and variations Jamie throws in!)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euBzxXFEuA4.

Beautiful Friction (Live) – Even with some issues – better than the studio version

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What God (Live) – The Chorus on this is (makes kissing fingertips motion).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6UuLVxKJUk
 

It’s Not All Gold

As a professional – one important lesson to start internalizing is the need to balance being passionate about what you do and maintaining an emotional distance from it at the same time.

Hostile Terrain

Most of you have never heard of my first self published book, an unabashed DIY effort called Hostile Terrain.  It featured poetry, some plays, essays and other works.  Truth be told, about 30% still holds up as writing that I’d be willing to show to other people.

Hostile Terrain came out of a process of years of journaling.  I wrote everything down as an outlet.   I was depressed and desperate and it took a long time to realize that journaling just fed right into that.

I didn’t realize at the time that writing wasn’t getting bad things out of my system, but instead, it was just making me sicker.  I was breathing in the same stagnant air and thinking that I found something invigorating and relavatory because I was equating output with discovery.

In the next stage of this process, I was living with a person in a completely isolated situation and had hit emotional rock bottom because I had to confront things that intellect alone couldn’t solve and that I simply didn’t have the emotional maturity to deal with.

In the middle of this terrible living situation, a freak accident happened where the room I was living in flooded.  I lost 10 years of writing and journals.

I was devastated.  It was thousands of hours of work down the drain (or so I thought).

So being emotionally crushed, I went back to what I knew.  I went back to writing and eventually I wrote some more and then put out Hostile Terrain. I sent it out to friends and to a few publishing houses I was into, and while I got a few “attaboys” I got no interest from anyone for anything resembling publishing.

Bedtime Stories For Mutant Children

In the meantime, I decided to move away from poetry and into short stories.  I was really influenced by Tomas Bernhardt’s The Voice Imitator and decided to write a series of short stories that focused on dark stories for adults told in a children’s storybook style.  This was about 1996 or so. The Tim Burton book, The Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy, came out mid project and even though I was jealous he beat me to the punch – my stories were much darker and I thought I might be able to get some publishing interest for a character I developed while on a grim tour of Germany (Kommandant Kumar) and for the overall book concept, Bedtime Stories For Mutant Children.

I had all the stories online so I could get feedback from my friends.  I didn’t have a computer at the time so I was working on my friend’s work computer.  I did this off and on for about a year.

Then something happened.

Within a 24-hour period the web server went out of business AND the hard drive that I had all of the files on seized.

I lost 30 short stories. Gone. Casper.

I hit my frustration limit and I stopped writing.  I abandoned the screenplay I wrote. I stopped all of the other writing I was doing and I worked on other things.

Eventually, I started seeing things differently, and I came to a realization.

It’s Not All Gold

  • There is no scarcity of ideas.

  • Not every idea has value

  • Important ideas will return

  • Sometimes it’s the process and not the product

There is no scarcity of ideas.

This was the biggest obstacle that I had to overcome in my own thinking and it’s one I still wrestle with.

There’s a fine line between being attached to an idea and being chained to it.

The difference is whether the idea you’re working with serves your larger goals, or if it’s only serving its own completion.

You don’t have to hold onto every idea like it’s a precious nugget.  There are more of them out there.

Not every idea has value equal to the amount of work needed to put it into action.

Again, it’s easy to get emotionally attached to the work put into an idea and equate work with value but that’s not always a direct relationship.  If you ever watch an episode of Shark Tank, you’ll likely see businesses where people have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into a product that has generated no revenue after several years in place.  This is what I’m talking about.

Cultivating the mindset to distance yourself emotionally from what you’re doing is a difficult process to develop and maintain but it’s an extremely valuable one.

Important ideas will return

I like documenting things because sometime I find things worth exploring but, in retrospect, every really good idea I couldn’t remember came back to me or presented itself in a different form.

Sometimes it’s the process and not the product

For me, this is the most important lesson in this piece.

Earlier, in regards to losing all of my writing, I said that:

“It was thousands of hours of work down the drain (or so I thought).”

That work wasn’t down the drain at all.  The work I put into that sharpened my writing and really honed my ability to focus.

That emphasis made huge differences in my practicing and ultimately affected other areas of my life in a much more positive way than the actual writing ever did.

When I work on projects now, I assess the value of the outcome and the value of the experience and if either one makes sense for me to do, then I’ll take it on.

Don’t get hung up on old ideas at the expense of new ones.  Implement, assess and then continue or abandon as need be.

I hope this helps and as always, thanks for reading!

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All Opinions Are Not Equal

Hey Everyone,

This is the last phoned in post for a while!  Look for all new content next week.  In the meantime, here’s a chestnut from the GuitArchitecture.org page.

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A while back, I was reading a forum post and I was outright flabbergasted at the number of people who had VERY STRONG opinions about musicians and they money they make, even though they themselves weren’t musicians and had no experience trying to make money from one’s art.  It served as a good reminder that,

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For the record, all opinions are not equal.

The internet will give you the impression that they are, but they aren’t.

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There are basically informed opinionswrongly informed opinions and uninformed opinions and while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, they do not (and should not) equate in terms of validity.

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Informed vs Uninformed Opinions

Let’s say I’m hiking with my friends and we come across a snake.  On of my friends, who knows nothing at all about snakes and is more than a little immature, says to me that it would make a great gag to pick up the harmless small snake and throw it at someone.  Another one of my friends, who happens to be a zoologist, tells me that he recognizes the snake as a highly poisonous one and advises me to stay away from it.

Which opinion do you think I’m going to listen to about handling the snake?

Yes, both people are entitled to their opinions, but for me there is a more validity in the opinion of the person who knows what the Hell they’re talking about.

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Wrongly informed opinions

The internet is full of people who dispense data guised as wisdom.

People who have “informed” opinions because they read or heard something somewhere.

Forums are filled with these people.  Jokers who fill up pages of forum space talking about the merits and detriments of various products only to find that they don’t own any of them, but are just speculating based on ad copy and product specifications.

Wrongly informed opinions are even more detrimental to making an informed decision, because, like most conspiracy theories, they have at least a grain of truth that their logical architecture is based on.  That truth is what typically passes the smell test, “does it smell like bs to you?” and leads to the, “if a is to be and b is to c then a is to z” logic that often comes about from this.

Opinions aren’t facts and shouldn’t be treated the same way.

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The Lesson Story

I believe that I’ve related this story once before, but I relate it again as I didn’t find it right away and it’s relevant to this idea.

I once had a person respond in a really combative way to a teaching ad I put up on Craigslist.

(BTW – I know CL works like gang busters for some people, but it never worked out for me.  I think this is largely because while my lessons are a bargain in terms of what a student can learn, they’re not cheap.  And CL guitar lessons seem to be ALL about the cheap.)

Getting back to the story, he demanded to know how much of my time was spent teaching, and whether I was a real full-time musician.  I responded to his e-mail as tactfully as I could, addressing my credentials and trying to determine what I wanted to learn.  He responded with a lengthy e-mail that included demands for justifying my price because, “I only want to study with the best.”  and he needed to figure out if I am “the best”.

Now the “best” anything, in terms of artistic expression, is a term that makes me uncomfortable.  I do happen to be the best teacher in the Scott Collins teaching method and style.  In that style and method of teaching, you wont find anyone who teaches better than me. Now, am I the best teacher for you?  I don’t know.  I have been for some students, but I can’t line up 30 people and say, “I’m better than all those people” because I am only the best at what I do and conveying information to people in my manner.

Despite being really put off by his approach,  I pushed the topic a bit and asked about his current skill set and what he was trying to do.  He explained that he was not a guitarist, but that he was planning on buying a guitar soon. While he didn’t play any other instruments, he was going to play guitar because he had really long fingers and knew that he could play it very well in a short period of time. Hence his need for the best teacher, because he needed someone who would help him unleash the awesome untapped divine talent that had been bestowed to him in his teens.

In other words, I spent 45 minutes writing thoughtful carefully worded responses intended to clarify, but ultimately justifying my skill set to a completely ignorant person who knew nothing about guitar and didn’t even play, but had a LOT of strong opinions about what I did.

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Save yourself some time and energy.

As musicians, it’s common to get worked up over people’s opinions about what we do.

I’m not saying that all listeners are uninformed.  I’ve had people who happened to have listened to a lot of music deeply offer really insightful observations to me about what they liked or didn’t like about various things.  They didn’t know jargon, but they knew what they were talking about in terms of conveying their aesthetic.

What I am saying is that if the opinion you’re listening to (or more likely reading) is uninformed, that engaging that opinion is generally a time-suck.  You can try to inform the  person expressing the opinion, which takes time (and the right person willing to listen to other opinions) or you can walk away.

It’s easy to get entangled into flamed threads or comment sections to contribute an opinion, but if you’re trying to explain to a non-musician why musicians should be compensated.  You’re wasting time that’s better spent making a good piece of art to sell to them instead.

Thanks for reading!

-SC

p.s. I’ve mentioned it before, but that Indie Musician Wake Up Call Kindle book is a cheap $1.99 insight into some of the issues covered here ; )

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