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Some Random Thoughts – March Blog 2016

Some Random Thoughts – March Blog 2016.

I thought I’d get a bit more personal with this months blog by sharing a few things that I’ve learned in my life/career so far. These are the gems that I feel apply to being a musician particularly well. So I hope that they are of some use to you all. Here goes…

1. Unfortunately, you really can’t (and won’t) please everyone, and trying to do so usually backfires.

2. If people can’t accept you for who you are, or don’t wanna be friends with you after you’ve made an effort to try to be, then you’re probably better off without them in your life.

3. Life can get pretty crazy sometimes, so if possible try to take a little time to do the things that make you happy – even if it’s just for a few minutes each day.

4. When in doubt, just go with it. Don’t try change situations that you have absolutely no control over (so unless you’re hurting yourself, or others in the process), just enjoy the moment. They’re not going to last forever.

5. Develop a hard skin. Successful people want to stay on top forever and might not always give you the turn that you might feel you deserve. Likewise, often people on their own way up might feel threatened or self entitled to something that you’re also after and hurtful things can be said or done that might discourage you along your journey, (who knows you might even be the one to say or do them). Regardless having a hard skin can help you shake the negativity off – especially within the entertainment industry.

6. Trust your gut !!! Pretty self explanatory really, but your instincts are usually correct.

7. Be nice to others, even if you think they’re unkind or inconsiderate towards you. You never know who’s help you might need one day, or who might need help from you.

8. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and help build you up. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve by doing this, even if it means that you might have to hear the ‘cold’ occasional truth about yourself every once in a while.

9. Stop complaining all the time. Unfortunately, this is much harder than I’d like to admit, but negativity breeds negativity (you would’ve heard me say that on the UK Drummer Podcast a few times).

10. Don’t fake it – just make it… You don’t have to be a fake individual to survive in this world. As mentioned earlier, you’re probably make a couple frenemies along the way but being true to yourself is worth its weight in gold so don’t let anyone take that away from you.

Until next time, practise hard, work hard and I’ll see you around.

@TravisMarc

Practise Schedules – February Blog 2016

Practise Schedules – February Blog 2016.

I realise that practise is a topic that I write about a lot in my blogs and I don’t in anyway mean to come across like a broken record by constantly repeating myself on the subject, but the bottom line is this: If you want to be great, you have to practise! 

Unfortunately there is no quick way to suddenly become an amazing musician (or amazing anything for that matter). It takes years of hard work, time, and of course, good quality practise. The great news however, is that ‘genius like status’ can be achieved. It just takes the right mixture of determination, self-discipline and motivation.

With each year that passes (and as I get older and take on more responsibilities), the more apparent it becomes that I no longer have the luxury or messing about on my instrument for hours on end while my parents take care of all the household and bill duties. (Ah, those were the days, ha ha).

Having a well worked out practise schedule still allows me to get a sufficient amount of time to practise and learn new ideas on my instrument and I firmly believe that putting together a schedule (as disciplined as it may sound) will really help you on your journey to becoming the best musician you can be. 

So with that in mind, here’s my recommendation on how you can alter your daily lifestyle to include your ‘creative needs’ and become a better musician at a realistic pace, whether it’s daily/weekly/monthly or yearly, and whether you’re a part or full time musician. 

Rather than sharing my personal schedule with you, I’ve worked these out based on stereotypical assumptions, and highlighted potential practise times in red. They can of course be applied however you like in order to suit your own personal needs.

Let’s start with the part time musician. Your day might look something like this: 

6am   – Potential practise for an hour
7am   – Wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast etc.
8am   – Leave for work
9am   – 5pm – Work
5pm   – Leave Work
6pm   – Eat dinner, relax with family etc.
10pm – Potential practise for an hour
11pm – Sleep

Now for the full time musician. Your day (provided you’re not touring heavily) might look something like this

9am   – Wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast etc.
10am – 2pm – Potential practise for 4 hours
3pm  – Eat lunch and load gear for tonight’s gig.
4pm – Potential rest/nap (if required), otherwise plan gig logistics (set lists, merch etc).
5pm – Leave for gig
6pm – Sound-check. Socialise, eat dinner, warm ups
9pm -12am – Actual performance
12am – Load gear and leave gig
1am – Sleep

In each scenario there are good times for potential practise sessions and it varies for everyone. Some people might find practising for 1 hour is too little, whilst others might feel that 4 hours is too much (especially given that the average human can only process new information for short periods of 45minutes at a time before the brain needs a break). Needless to say, the above examples are simply a guideline in case you don’t know where to start. 

One of my guitar teachers (a wonderful man named Luke Van Der Merwe), helped me work out my first ever practise schedule and it completely changed how I approached my time at my instrument. So, while I wish I could take credit for the above way of thinking, I have to mention him. If you ever get the chance to watch him play, you totally should. 

Anyway, until next time, work hard, play hard and practise – diligently. 

Travis Marc.

P.S – Don’t forget to follow my personal account on Twitter – @TravisMarc

Sometimes opportunity doesn’t knock – January Blog 2016

Sometimes opportunity doesn’t knock on the door – January Blog 2016.

Ah life… It’s a funny thing. Most people are either content with where they are, or trying to break down barriers in order to get to where they eventually hope to be.

It’s with this in mind that I wanted to write this months blog, as it’s important to remember that while attempting to claw one’s way to the top and open as many doors as we can along the way, that it’s very easy to miss some of the windows of opportunity that might come to us, purely due to the fact that we’re too focused on our end goal (whatever that may be).

Recently, I was in the studio with a great band., who were recording their debut album.
I was hired to record a few guitar parts on the record and was itching to have a go on the drumkit that had been hired for the drummer on the session. As I wasn’t that close with the band, I decided to act professionally and simply just track my guitar parts.

During the recording process, a few comments were made that made me think that the band weren’t completely happy with their drummer or his parts, but again by trying to remain as professional as possible, I held back my comments that I might be able to do what they wanted ‘drum part wise’ in a better way (no one wants to be ‘that guy’, especially when it’s not even your own band).

While on quick a break from the actual recording process one day, I thought I’d have a quick play on the drums before we hit record again, but not knowing me, the drum tech that had been hired for the day didn’t think it was a good idea and so for a third time during the session I again decided to remain professional and convinced myself that I didn’t need to play the drums and went back to my guitar.

Anyway, fast forward two or three months and as suspected the band seem to have released their drummer and hired a new guy to fill his position. They also have some amazing dates booked in on their new tour, with support slots of some absolutely massive bands…

Now, while I’m super happy for them (they were terrific guys) I can’t help but think that perhaps had I made sure that they had the chance to see what kind of drummer I am and what I could do on the drums within their genre, that when the decision came to replace the above mentioned drummer that just maybe I might have been considered as a potential replacement. Not to say I would’ve, but I might have been. The worst part is, that I’ll never ever know and I have no one to blame but myself.

So, while I do believe that upholding professional standards should always be one’s priority, I think that maybe we should also trust our instincts and take advantage of the moments we’re in as we might miss opportunities that are right in front of us. After all, sometimes opportunity doesn’t knock on the door, it lightly taps on a window.

Until next time, keep on practising, take those opportunities, and remember the harder you work, the luckier you’ll get.

Travis Marc

It’s the Season to be jolly – December Blog 2015

It’s the season to be jolly – December Blog 2015.

Wow, I can’t believe the year is already over! It seemed like it was only yesterday that I performed at some year-end functions and celebrated the start of 2015, and now I’m busy (or about to) do it all again for 2016. Plus, yesterday one of my students told me that she’s been coming to me for lessons for twelve months and I honestly couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t have guessed that it was more than six months. Where does the time go?

Something that I always tend to think about around this time of year is just how many special occasions we as working musicians miss in regards to various family or friend related events while we’re out on the road gigging or doing PR for upcoming projects (you know the ones: birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, New Year’s Eve etc.). I really can’t tell you how many times that I’ve personally said to my wife that I’m going to gig less, or take a break for a few months (and meant it), but then that phone rings and I’m right back out the door. I guess that it comes with the territory though and I firmly believe that it only takes turning the “right” people down once in order for them to not ever want to call you again.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I love my life and I’m bringing this all up simply because it’s the Christmas season and I’m very excited because for the first time in a very long time, I’m going to be able to spend some real quality time with my family and friends over this busy period. Heck, I even turned down a gig for the 24th (which is something that I would not usually do, but it was a friend’s gig and he was really cool about it) so that I can celebrate Chrimbo with my wife and her side of the family.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this, it’s great doing what you wanna do for a living, and if this is your passion you need to follow it. It is easy to keep thinking that we’ll spend some ‘quality time’ with those we care about tomorrow while we’re young and not really thinking too far ahead, but what if (heaven forbid) tomorrow never came?

You always hear stories about people on their deathbeds saying they wish they had worked less and spent more time with those they love, and maybe they’re right? So on that note I’ll end on this: if you have a couple of days off this year, maybe rather than polishing your cymbals or browsing eBay for 2nd hand drumming gear try spend some time doing the “little” things with the important people in your life. After all, it’s Christmas and I’m sure they’d appreciate your time, especially if your time is often spent away from home.

Until next time, merry Christmas and thanks so much for all your support this year! May 2016 be even more kick ass than 2015 was and stay driven. Oh, and come January we’re launching the official “UK Drummer Podcast” so watch this space and make sure you check it out!!!

Travis Marc.

Passion – September Blog 2015

Passion – September Blog 2015.

My goal behind this months’ blog idea is a simple one…

I want you to understand how important passion for your instrument is, how having passion can help you to improve faster as a musician and even how it can be a ‘make or break’ factor in regards to your career.

To start let’s look at the definition of the word ‘Passion': Passion is a strong feeling of enthusiasm, or excitement for something, or about doing something.

If we look at some of the worlds most accomplished people, it’s often easy to see how passionate they are about the things they love and more often than not, how their driving passion (along with lots of hard work) has helped them get to where they are. Think about it. Can you imagine Dave Grohl having done the Sonic Highways series if he wasn’t passionate about music? It would be interesting to see what someone like Gregg Bissionate’s career would’ve turned out like if his passion didn’t shine through like it does. Obviously hard work and time are huge factors too, but would the work or required effort even have been done if it wasn’t for the initial passion or love these personalities had to start off with?

Recently, I seem to have taken on a small influx of drum students who, although on the surface appear to want to play the drums, don’t really seem very interested in the actual instrument, the influential players who came before them or ever practicing in order to try and improve. In fact most of them (stereotypically speaking) just want to bash things, rather than taking the time to realise that there’s so much more to drumming than simply trying to break them. When asked about what music they like and want to learn, I find I’m often answered with an “I don’t know”, or “I don’t really care about music” type of attitude.

After lessons like these, I tend to find myself thinking back to my early years as a drummer and, as old as it makes me sound, I wonder about what drumming and music in general will be like in the next twenty (and more) years.

I think about how I couldn’t wait for Friday’s to roll around so that I could get to my weekly drum lesson, show my teacher the progress I’d made and see what we were going to do next. I would go through such effort to find out about drummers and different techniques and concepts.
I try think about what elements might be missing from the mind sets of my students and what I might be able to do to help them be more enthusiastic about what I’m trying to teach them.

The missing ingredient, as far as I can see (and I’m probably stereotyping of course), would definitely appear that there’s a lack of passion in these types of individuals and I personally feel that the wanting to learn (as great as it is) simply isn’t enough. After all if you can’t be passionate about what you’re wanting to do, or at least passionate about working towards what you’re hoping to achieve, is there really any point?

This is purely my opinion, food for thought you might say. I’m not trying to deny anyone their place in this world and I believe that every single person (rich or poor, old or young) has the opportunity to ‘make it’ in whatever field they’re trying to be successful in. All I’m saying is, if you can’t find a reason to want to do what you’re doing, and be somewhat passionate about it, you might be setting yourself up for failure from the start.

Until next time, keep pushing, keep working and keep doing whatever it is you’re doing. Just do it to the best of your ability.

Travis Marc.