BE YOURSELF (NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY)
Updated: Jan 6
For my second blog entry, I would like to talk about individualism, or how to go about finding your own voice/sound.
Like when you first started talking, at the beginning, we all start out copying what we see/hear around us, be it from a teacher, records, concerts, etc. We’re all products of the various influences around us, so how does one find his/her own voice? Two thoughts (the long version, for short version, see below):
If you grew up surrounded by people with a very limited vocabulary you would end up using exactly that vocabulary, as you wouldn’t know anything else, right? Right! Means, if you’re only being exposed to one musician, you would probably end up sounding like a copy of him/her. If you, on the other hand, listen to a plethora (I’ve always wanted to use this word, thanks El Guapo from “The Three Amigos”) of musicians, you would have a lot of sounds/phrases/licks/feels to choose and learn from. So, personally, I think listening to music is as important to becoming a good musician, as is practise. Poets read poetry, painters go to museums, musicians listen to music.
All of us have strengths and weaknesses. Some of us can listen to a tune once and remember it easily, while others struggle to remember the basic structure of the first verse. I’ve had students with amazing foot technique from the beginning while I still struggle with mine (being left footed on a right handed drum kit doesn’t help…). Some can play really fast, others can’t, etc. etc. etc. While it’s not easy to be honest with yourself and accept a weakness, it is part of you, of your voice, your sound. So embrace it and practise a little bit harder on it, but don’t get frustrated. The hours I’ve spent practising my right foot… thousands and thousands! Did it help? Absolutely! Is my right foot up there with the best? Absolutely not, but I’m (almost) happy with it (and keep on trying to make it better). One of the things I’ve tried to teach my students is, not to forget to practise on your strengths as well. Those are the universe’s (or whoever is in charge of handing out talents) gifts to you. Nurture your strengths and practise on your weaknesses.
Listen to as much music as possible and practise on your strengths as well as on your weaknesses.
Roman “Slowfoot” Roth