Finding Your Own Sound

I once asked my friend this question: “How can I ever find my own sound?” Wait… did I say once? Because that question was the most stressful thought that crossed my mind for years. Sound familiar? OK. So I don’t know about you, but I get really stressed sometimes about the level of competition out there in the music industry. Let’s face it, if you’re an artist of any sort, you’re going to face some very, very stiff competition. But here’s the thing, and I warn you, this will sound incredibly simple despite the fact that it took me years for it to really sink in. Competition has nothing to do with art, because yes folks, you are unique and your art will without question be unique. What’s the one exception? When you try too hard to be someone else. I will make you an ABSOLUTE GUARANTEE RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW— If you are completely honest with yourself about who you are, what art you like, and what you want your art to be, YOU WILL be a unique artist and you will do things that have never been done before. Now, let me explain this a little just to clarify. As far as being honest with yourself goes, this means you have to toss aside everything that people tell you. You have to forget about the norm, forget about what other people like. Let me give you an example. For a long time, I would listen to music based on other people’s suggestions. I always thought that if, well, this guy said it, that means I should listen to it over and over. But I didn’t really like it! Forget what people tell you. Do what you love. Listen to what you love. Create what you enjoy creating! Develop what you LOVE developing, and if you do these things, I promise you that you will know yourself better than ever before and create art that cannot be reproduced by any individual out there no matter how hard he/she tries.

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4 thoughts on “Finding Your Own Sound

  1. Well, I’m a self taught jazz player and learning through various youtube videos and reading a book or two. There is so many stuff to practice. I can spend hours just practicing scales! I’m 22, and this is something that’s been really getting to me because I hear amazing players like Keith Jarrett and he has such an amazing touch with such a crisp and soft touch/volume control. In short, thanks for your advice.

    What is your opinion on a player minimizing their emotions without facial expressions, tension to practice volume control? I’ve watched a youtube video on it and I have my buts.

    • When I studied with Hal Galper, he spoke a lot about minimizing physical tension and expression. You should read this article: http://www.halgalper.com/articles/stagefright-and-relaxation/

      Personally, my opinion is that physical expression while playing music is good, but you must first master what you are playing. I suggest that when you are practicing, you minimize your emotion and concentrate on executing the music correctly. Once you have mastered the technical aspects of a piece, then you can start to allow your emotion to show.

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