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Question from aspiring musician

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  1. Gesture
    Member

    Hey guys.

    There's a thing that has been bothering me for some time and this forum seems like the perfect place to get it off my chest.

    Here's my story:
    I've been playing guitar for about 12 years (I'm 24) and this year I got rejected for the second time at my auditions for a (jazz)conservatory.
    Last year the main critique was my timing. Although I've grown quite a bit as a player this year I still did not get in. My harmonic and chordal knowledge is pretty good and I have good hearing, since i've been playing music since I was 6, but the teachers told me I have a serious lack of rhythmic expression in my playing.

    Now this is something I believe I can work and improve at (although it's a lot harder than studying harmony and stuff), and I'll probably do audition again next year. But at the same time I'm starting to have my doubts.
    First because of my age and secondly because I haven't been in a situation where I get to play with other musicians a lot for about a year now.
    Don't get me wrong: I absolutely love music and a day doesn't go by without listening to and playing music. I'm just not sure if it's a sensible thing to do when I'm turning 25 next year and I lack some 'real' playing experience.
    It might be worth to mention I do have a "backup" bachelors degree in engineering.

    I know age shouldn't be an issue in music when it's your passion, but when it comes to getting a serious career in (jazz)music how important do you guys think it is to be relatively young?

    If there's people having a career in music i hope they (or Kurt) can give their opinion/advice.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. jorgemg1984
    Member

    Can you give me your e-mail? I was in a VERY similar situation in the past but I rather keep some of my thoughts out of the Internet.

  3. TruthHertz
    Member

    24? That's young enough to do all you want, old enough to take yourself seriously.That's about the age that Ralph Towner picked up a guitar for the first time. Your problem is difficult to really offer useful practice advice without hearing you but maybe I can offer some observations that may or may not be useful.
    Your hands are very expressive extensions of your mind. They can act on behalf of your left brain, assuring the correct placement of your hands and the correct patterns of coordination so you play notes that work. Or they can act on behalf of your right brain, the connective, expressive side of your brain. You will play very differently depending on who is in control.
    Try playing from the right side of your brain. Try imagining a spoken line, a sung line, a scat exercise. Sing a line without your guitar, then sing it again playing EXACTLY what you're singing. Dynamics, nuance, speech inflections, and think of the people you're playing to, play with THEM in mind.
    When you practice, don't just play for the notes, play for the connection between the notes. Play with an audience in mind and listen really carefully to what is coming out of your guitar. Play with a metronome. For swing, beats on 2 and 4 and listen until it becomes invisible, inaudible, until you can play and you don't even let it bother you one bit. And listen carefully.
    Please forgive me if I'm stating the obvious, but playing music is different from playing the guitar. If it's not deep in you, you can still play guitar but it won't be an expression. One thing I like to do is work with SCAT exercises. It's just for me (I have a terrible voice) and I realized that if I can't phrase convincingly with my voice, it seemed absurd to expect my guitar playing to do just that.
    Record yourself. All the time. Don't let your left brain tell you everything is OK, be aware while playing, be critical while listening back.
    Do you do these things already? Do give it a try.
    Or not, if it's not anything that rings true. But do go at it again. You're learning and hopefully you'll hit the next one up to speed! You can do it.
    David

    Secret
  4. Gesture
    Member

    Jorge: Couldn't find a way to send it to you so i'll just post my old e-mail here: viccehh[at]hotmail[dot]com

    David thanks for the good advice. Most of the exercises i'm doing or have done, but should probably do a lot more. Especially the singing exercises.
    I do think i am capable of playing more expressive, but when i get in a 'real' playing situation like a gig or audition somehow it's hard for me to really get into that state of mind. People often tell me I have good technique but I should play with more soul/feeling when they watch me play during a gig. That's why I reeallly need to get in a situation with more fellow musicians.

    Vic

  5. Basile865
    Member

    Just wanted to give my 2 cents worth here.

    Be careful with measuring your self worth as a musician through any kind of auditions, contests, awards etc. I mean it.

    I used to feel like time was running out because I hadn't achieved "xyz" by a certain age. For some reason now, it doesn't matter anymore. Im 27 btw.

    I think I found comfort in the struggles of other "greats" as they made their career. If memory serves correct, dave brubeck graduated from a music school by the skin of his teeth, and he was allowed to graduate provided he agreed to never teach music, as it would reflect poorly on the school! Then he went on to become Dave Brubeck, a wonderful musician loved by many.

    Blues guys like Albert King and Albert Collins didnt make it until well into their 40's. I think Albert King was a bulldozer driver.

    A very religious friend mentioned to me that Jesus didnt start working miracles until his early 30's. Not much is said about him before that, except his birth.

    Your time might not be until youre 63! And then you could write some of the most amazing music. Your time will be when its supposed to be, if at all.

    My point is dont stress over age, and dont stress over people's measurement of you. If the flame is there, keep it lit. Keep your head down and keep working regardless. For me, music is a trio between myself, my instrument, and God. (I hope Im not being overly religious here, its only my personal perspective).

    In my opinion, being known takes more than talent, it takes having a good business sense, and (drum roll please)....money! Financial backing to persevere and promote. Hard but not impossible to overcome. But i'd argue a lot of some of the best musicians you've heard of had that fabric to make it where they are today. Even if it means help with food and shelter.

    Sorry if that went off in another direction! But I hope theres some value hidden in there for you.

  6. jorgemg1984
    Member

    Vic will e-mail you ASAP.

  7. Gesture
    Member

    Thanks guys. It really helps hearing someone elses point of view.

    Much appreciated Jorge! No rush..

  8. aramaya
    Member

    Hi Vic,

    I didn't go to music school until I was 24. I had done 110 hrs as a creative writing major
    but music was my passion, so I switched. If music is your passion then you will find a way.
    It took me quite some time to develop my time. I often thought that I would have been a far
    better classical guitarist, as I am a composer as well and on some level that music was more natural
    for me. I worked my ass off for about seven or eight years before I was able to really execute what
    my ear was hearing and what my intuition was pushing me towards. It took me 3-4 years of shedding
    scales and chords and I gained the mastery of the fretboard I needed to approach my own music.
    Next phase was writing a large body of content over the course of 3-4 years and now I am fleshing that
    music out and bringing it to fruition (age 34). That was a 10 year process to get here. Early on, I was
    incredibly critical of myself and I now feel this was the biggest hinderance to my career path.

    Time is relative to experience and the people around you. It is a collective process. "Good time" varies from
    music to music. Institutions try to force one brand of time on players, but once you are in the real world, you
    realize that nearly every group you play in has a different sense of time, you just have to learn to blend well with others.

    Good luck with your choices. I could have been an excellent writer, or psychologist, but this is what I chose.
    Being a musician is not an easy path, regardless of your skill level.

  9. TruthHertz
    Member

    aramaya, thanks for that perspective. When I was in music school many people in my group of choice musicians were there after other "more secure" careers. Many were from other countries with degrees in sciences, engineering and economics. They became the best musicians because they had vision and they wanted it. Once you get in, have your priorities straight and are doing it, you are doing it. Your age will not be relevant. Your two attempts will not be relevant. Your timing before you found your comfort zone will not be relevant. You'll be on your way.
    And as far as your timing and rhythm goes, be true to your own feel and remove what you don't want, but don't do something that doesn't feel right. Schillinger said Genius is the realization of a tendency. Be true and it will become a strength.
    David


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