Worthwhile Principles to Live By (or... "Tips from old guys")

  • Decide what you want to do, and do it. Some will like it... Some will not.
  • There's always somebody better than you.
  • No music sounds good if it's out of tune, out of time, or lacks dynamics.
  • Music without dynamics is just noise, like a robotic conversation.
  • The best music is emotional. Quoting Buddy Rich, "Those who emote the most are the best."
  • Space... The Final Frontier... Sometimes, the best use of an empty space in music is to leave it empty.
  • If your music is truly mature, it should reach people on either an emotional or technical level, or both.
  • Try to be better every time you play. The music deserves your full attention. Be great!
  • If you can't hear someone in the band, play quieter.
  • If the sound is out of your control, do your best to adapt instantly, instead of fighting it or worrying about it.
  • Share information with others. If you need to withhold a "secret" to succeed, you're doomed to failure.
  • Don't become obsessed with special equipment. It's a trap, that will handicap you when you can't use it.
  • Be creative, but don't waste time re-inventing the wheel. Use known techniques, then experiment.
  • If playing or singing in a certain way hurts, do it differently.
  • Having "great time" and a "great feel" doesn't necessarily mean that the music should be metronomic.
  • Don't become too fixated on pattern-oriented playing. Music must "groove", but it also must breathe.
  • Communicate with your fellow musicians. Fine-tune arrangements for maximum effect.
  • You have to be "in the market", to be considered for better work. People must know that you exist, to hire you.
  • Promotional material is only helpful if you're ready, when an opportunity arises. Don't waste time hyping a bad act.
  • Express yourself in the appropriate spots, but support the band at all times.
  • Do what you really believe in, to give your performance integrity. People know if you're faking.
  • Fix technique problems, and develop better habits. There's always something you can improve.
  • The best recording on the planet won't do a great artist justice, but even the poorest recording on the planet will show all your weaknesses.
  • Everybody has a sob story... Meaning that you can't live on this planet without eventually going through some hard times. It's equally true that most people don't want to hear YOUR sob story. When you go on stage, go for the music, and for the audience, and leave everything else behind.

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