Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Notes To An Artist: 1-Study

    The first bit of advice that I could give anyone wanting to be an independent artist, or desiring any career a bit off the beaten path, would be study. I've always thought is was necessary, but it wasn't until I heard it from Monica Tyson of Yoruba Records at the International Soul Music Summit did it resonate as strongly as it does now. She went further on to say, and I'm paraphrasing because it's been some months since I heard her say this, "Your music should be a symphony. How can it be that unless you study? The best artists of our time are great because they have studied and mastered their craft."
    Now this probably sounds super-obvious and maybe a little boring, but let's explore the idea (just humor me).  There are several options that you could go about pursuing, but it really depends upon your situation and personality.

Formal Education

    First, and probably most obvious, would be to go to school. Now, we could be talking about college, but there's also continuing education classes you could take that are cheaper and less stressful (check your community college). Private instruction is also another route you can go. I can vouch for the benefit of a formal education. I was an alright singer and could peck out some chords at piano, but I've gotten much better at both because of the education I received at both a community college and a private university. This is definitely the route for someone who isn't the most disciplined. Having to answer to someone else can help you stay on task with learning.

Create Your Own School

    But what if school isn't really an option for you?  Maybe you don't perform well in the structured confines of a school. A friend of mine is in this situation. My advice to him was to create his own school. I meant he should educate himself through every means that would work for him. For some, that might mean books. For others, it might mean finding reputable blogs and websites with the information. All of it can be Googled. You'd be surprised at the amount of good information available.
    Most importantly, I think that listening to as much music as possible is a must for any musician. Become knowledgeable about as much music in your genre as you can. Listen to music that isn't in the genre you want to work in. Listen to old music, new music, good music, and even bad music.
    In listening, try to figure out why you love or hate what you're listening to. This helps in not only broadening your knowledge base of music, but it also helps you define your own voice as an artist. The reasons you like a particular artist might help you to understand your musical tastes and what you might want to work in your own music.

Resources For Us Broke People

    But what if you can't afford to spend any money right now? Check your public library. Honestly, most libraries carry books on every imaginable subject. From performance to history to business, you can find books that will inform your decisions as an artist. Not only that, you'll also find cds from pretty much every genre around.

    By learning, we make better music because we've expanded the palette of colors we can use.  Reading good literature makes better lyricists. We can make more diverse and sophisticated music because we know more about the world around us. There really is no reason why any artist shouldn't be informed and educated. We live in a time and place where we have access to so many resources. Start improving now...

1 comment:

  1. Thats a good post mayne. Makes me want to go to the library. LOL!

    Oh and Tag your are it! Check out my page and Get to posting!

    Of course with LOVE! Muah!