Well the stock answer is Practice Practice Practice!!
And its true I’m afraid thats the bad news as practicing is very hard work and one has to decide to do it and then do it.
Since moving to Florida and listening to local musicians there are some really excellent players but generally the standard of musicianship is not so high as in Los Angeles I’m afraid.
I guess the major reason for this is that the really good players who are going to make it their careers move to where the work is such as Los Angeles, Nashville or New York?
But looking over the scene I realised that there was a common denominator to the successful musician and artist that I have observed over the years and its an obvious one.
And that is ALL the successful Artists/Musicians practice very very hard at some time in their development.
They all one for one went through a time of intense practice.
I MEAN REALLY INTENSE WITH LONG LONG HOURS AND VERY HARD WORK AND DEDICATION!
Sure “what” you practice and “how” all comes into it but without spending the hours, days or years it just doesn’t happen.
I’ve worked with some of the Top musicians in the world over the years and by actual observation have seen this to be true.
I remember one pianist I worked for told me there was a time when he was practicing 16 hours a day for a period of many months in a loft in New York. I observed this same artist practice 5 to 6 hours a day when he chose to learn 2 Mozart Concertos in preparation for a live performance over a 2 month period.
5 to 6 hours a day for 2 months including the week ends by the way.
One very well known guitarist’s mother once told me that he never went out and played with his friends for most of his teenage years as he just sat at home after schoool practicing his instrument. She used to try and get him to go out and play with the other kids in the neighborhood to no avail and one can see this in the brillaince of the technique he developed as well as becoming a very fine composer.
By the way he ended up playing Carnegie Hall at the age of 19 years on stage opposite Herbie Hancock.
But even composers practice apparently and I was told that a one point in his career Stevie Wonder was writing a song a day and it would appear to be true considering at all the amazing compositions he wrote over his best years.
I wonder what happened to those songs he chose not to record because thats 365 songs a year if it is true.
I bet there is some real gems in that collection.
As a musician myself (I’m a recovering Trombone player) I know there seems to be these barriers one pushes through as one develops ones craft. It takes real effort to crash through them and many hours of practice and those skills I did develop came at high price of many hours of practice.
“Whats the first thing a trombone player says when he gets to his gig?
“Would you like fries with that?”
Or if he only made it Ralph’s “Paper or Plastic”
So I guess the moral of the story is if you are a trombone player and don’t want to end up working at MacDonald’s or Ralph’s you had better “Practice, Practice, Practice or you will end up at Carnegie Hall only saying ” Tickets please?”
All joking aside I believe this is the real difference between the great artist and the average one, they practice their craft no matter their instrument.
Some of you will read this and treat what I say with disdain or as unimportant and continue to wonder why you don’t get so many gigs as the other guy or your career is not going well and blame the record labels and the general state of the music business…bla bla bla….
By the way I include vocalists in this in particular (Sorry but I’ve played with so many over the years that have never thought of practicing I’m afraid)
Well welcome to the reality of how to make it Carnegie Hall.
Its like the excuse I use to hear from promoters “that the attendance wasn’t good tonight because its raining” !!!
Yes right …of course…. thats reasonable its the weather and my answer was always “Well if that were true how come if the Beatles were playing here tonight and there was a bloody blizzard they would still sell out”
Sorry but there is no other answer but to practice and I can prove it.
I’m off to McDonalds!