Play It Again, Sam. Or Not.
I like the band Franz Ferdinand. Several months ago, they released a new CD. I found it on Spotify, listened to it once or twice, thought it was pretty good, saved it to a playlist, and... that's kind of it.
Today when I booted up my computer and Spotify loaded up, the Spotify home screen reminded me about the band, and I remembered I had only listened to their newest CD a few times. And I started thinking, why do I know all their other albums fairly well, but this one fell off my radar? The answer is Spotify and the Internet.
Twenty years ago, if we were interested in learning more about a band we had to go to the record store and buy the CD to listen to a bands music (if your friend didn't already have it, of course). Now with Spotify and other Internet sources, that's no longer necessary. We can preview clips of the material very easily before deciding to buy it, we can download a few songs for a fraction of the cost, or most likely, we can stream it cheaply/for free. But the trade off is that we no longer have this feeling of desiring to get a return on our investment (ROI for all you economics types.) That is, after buying the CD, saying to ourselves, "I just spent $18.99 on this new Paul McCartney CD... It's kinda meh. Well, it's not the Beatles, but I want to enjoy this music I just spent so much to buy, I need to keep listening to it until I like it." (To put this in further perspective, what cost $18.99 in 1995 would cost $28.26 in 2012, according to the inflation calculator).
As everyone knows, we are a turbo charged society nowadays. Compared to twenty years ago, we can communicate quicker and easier, have access to information quicker, our media access is on demand, instantaneous, and overwhelming. And because of this, our time frame for getting into new music and allowing it to grow on us is affected. Sure, nothing is stopping us from listening to a recording we recently discovered over and over again until it grows on us. But when we have immediate and cheap/free access to 100 years of recorded music , we're more likely to cut short listening to whatever doesn't immediately grab us and find something that does. Not to mention we have more entertainment options now than ever before - YouTube, Facebook, etc. While we have more entertainment options than ever before, we don't have more free time to devote to pursuing it. And while comparing music and YouTube may seem like comparing apples and oranges, they're both in the category of entertainment for most of us. So we're not as likely to invest our time in discovering new music like we had in the past when we have all these other diversions today.
The idealist in me would say this is bad - we're giving (ostensibly) quality music short shrift - we don't give it a chance like we used to. Yet I wouldn't go back to the old days. I *like* having all these options and having quick and easy access to all kinds of music. Perhaps it is at the expense of not having those repeated listenings to CDs. But I certainly don't miss feeling obligated to like some crummy Robert Plant CD because I spent the money to buy it, telling myself I should love it since I love Led Zeppelin.
I suppose the most common effect of all of this is that we're not as likely to become as intimately familiar with any given piece of music as we once were, for better or worse. At least when it comes to me and Franz Ferdinand's latest CD anyway.
Reader Question: Performance Anxiety, Motivation and Inspiration
I recently received this message from one of my readers. She asks a few questions that gets to the heart of playing an instrument. Here's her message and below that is my response.
Your Thoughts?: I have really bad performance anxiety. What can I do? Also, how can I stay motivated and inspired? I've been takin lessons for a year and a half. Do you have any advice or tips for moving forward?
My Response: For me, getting up on stage and performing is my opportunity to shine. After all the time spent practicing alone in my room, it’s finally time to show off what I can do, having developed my skill. I don’t get in my own way, it’s like “take this bitches, check this out.” If I were you, I’d embrace this attitude. This is of course assuming that you’re able to play competently when you’re alone, and getting in front of people throws you off. If you aren't comfortable playing in front of people because you don’t really understand the music as well as you could and need more practice, then practice until you feel comfortable with it.
As far as staying motivated and inspired goes – what are your goals? It can be to master a piece of music or pass an audition into music school or a bunch of different things, but without any kind of direction, I can see why you’d feel a lack of motivation. At some point the “why” of what you’re doing needs to be clear (as in “why am I spending all this time practicing?”). Maybe your teacher was a good fit for you for a year or so, but he isn’t any longer. Maybe you have goals now that this person isn’t acknowledging and has his own agenda and isn't interested in yours. What do you want? Having said that, the teacher ostensibly knows more about guitar than you, and can teach you some things that are off your radar, and that can be great in terms of learning new things that you never would have otherwise. But if it’s at the point where you just don’t care about the curriculum he’s giving you, then I would talk to him and tell him what you’re interested in learning, and ask to focus on that stuff in lessons. Be aware that what you want to do may not be his specialty, so if you want to learn blues but at heart your teacher is more of a heavy metal guy, then it could be time to switch teachers.
Last summer I recorded an instructional blues DVD for the company GuitarZoom. This 4 DVD course covers the fundamentals of how to play a 12 bar blues in all 12 keys, minor and major pentatonic scales used in soloing, 6ths, a few solo guitar instrumental pieces, and more. Check out a few sample video lessons here and more details about the course here.
Solo Blues Guitar eCourse!
One of my my favorite things to play is solo blues guitar. I've put together a free online course of several of my own original, easy to play, solo blues guitar arrangements. I think you'll enjoy playing these. These will help you improve your technique, and you will be able to play a blues in 5 different keys! Try them out. Check out the whole course here, below is one of the lessons:
Solo Blues Guitar in E
. Right-click to download. Below is video!
Click Here for a video guitar lesson of how to play Solo Blues Guitar in E
Dindi - Antonio Carlos Jobim
Check out my dreamy version of the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic, Dindi
Solo Blues in E!
I like to improvise solo blues guitar progressions with some licks thrown in, check out this video: