I have the following advice to anyone who is interested in pursuing a musical career:
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Use your ears, i.e., learn by listening to and analyzing recordings by your favorite artists. Listen to and watch how other musicians play their instrument. Seek out others with similar musical interests and form your own music group. Once you have gotten a feel for your instrument of choice through imitation of your favorite music artists, glom onto anyone you know who plays better than you do (or take some lessons from a good teacher). Begin learning to read music. Explore songbooks, transcriptions, music treatises, etc. You will begin to understand some of the abstract ideas that you have acquired by relating them to existing music theory. Be patient.....it takes a long time to become proficient. It takes longer to become good and even longer to be a GREAT musician.
My greatest challenge is learning how to listen to my inner voice. The best songwriters write words and music that are honest and speak directly from the soul. Conversely, there are a great many who try to anticipate what will "sell" and they write songs that are "marketable". There are very few "original" stories, themes, ideas or whatever.....the creative part is how you craft the words and music to relate your own viewpoint. Not every song you write will be a hit, but if you continue to write more and more, there will be a few really good songs that emerge from your effort.
In the business of music, having a strong belief system is paramount to survival. Being talented is great, but realize that you're probably among the 99% of us who won't get rich doing this. I'm not trying to discourage anyone, but things happen along the way that can sidetrack you. If you can measure your success solely by the satisfaction you get from your involvement with music, that's okay. But if you're intention is to make a living as a professional in the business of music, there are other necessary skill sets to consider. There are no guarantees. Success is relative. Do it if it makes you happy.
My greatest musical influences, past and present, are the artists and composers who create works of music that inspire me to continue to strive for excellence. Achieving perfection in the performance of a piece of music is elusive at best. Brief moments of perfection do occur, and over time with more practice, these brief moments become more frequent and longer in duration. Practice makes perfect!
- Ed Vallee
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