Tag Archives: Practice Makes Perfect

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

Inspiration away from your Instrument – May Blog 2015

Inspiration away from your Instrument – May Blog 2015.

Anyone who’s ever really taken their instrument seriously will probably tell you that practice is the key to truly defining what you are able to do musically while performing. It’s like that old mantra says ‘practice makes perfect’. It really does. I suppose it just depends on what you define as perfection.

Sometimes though, practice itself is not the hard part for a lot of us musicians. The hard part is actually finding the inspiration/motivation to want to practice when we know that getting better can be a very long, lonely and boring task. For me personally, if I set my mind to it I find it quite easy to get into a routine that allows me to work on the things I’m trying to achieve, and even if there’s not enough time in the day to do it all I believe that visualising the things I’m trying to play can be just as beneficial and rewarding. But, just because I’m able to do this and feel that I have a strong sense of self discipline doesn’t mean it’s always something I want to do and finding the motivation can be difficult sometimes.

A few years ago a friend of mine (who happens to be an incredible drummer) decided that he no longer wanted to do music professionally and wanted to rather focus on a normal 9 to 5 type career as the pressures and uncertainties that can come with being a full-time musician had made him loose some of the passion he had for his instrument. He was really excited about his decision, and happy that he could once again play drums on his own terms and not just because he had to keep someone else in a band happy or follow ever changing drumming trends just to be regarded as a good drummer. After a few months he even started to tell me how it was the best thing he’d ever done and that I should try find something away from music to inspire myself the way he was somehow doing with his new hobby drumming career.

And so, after months of trying to think of different things that might interest me I came to the conclusion that away from music, there really wasn’t much that I felt happy giving my time up for (family and dogs aside of course). I decided to take a slightly different approach and use the things that were inspiring me as a guitarist to motivate me on the drums, and the things that were inspiring me as a drummer, motivate the way I approached my drumming. I decided to start paying more attention to tones and sounds on my drums in the same way a guitarist would mess about with pedals and different amps. On guitar I tried to think more about how drummers would play specific rhythms I was trying to play and started to sequence drum rudiments in the same way that a guitarist might sequence chords or scales. I found all of this extremely motivating and started listening to music in a completely different way, which kept the inspiration flowing.

The above approach started making me think about how a lot of actors get into certain characters that they’re playing and only ‘change back to who they really are’ after filming various movies (think of actors like Leonardo DiCaprio or Al Pacino), and I tried to start ‘playing certain characters’ while on my instrument. If I was playing a ‘Beatles’ song as a drummer – I tried to be Ringo. If I was trying to play a really heart felt guitar solo, I’d pretend I was Clapton’ etc, etc. It all helped to keep me motivated and become a better musician.

Once again (as with previous blogs) I’m not in anyway trying to say that you should want to copy other players and sound like them rather than being yourself, (after all, only you can sound like you). I’m simply saying that the above method has worked for me and it might for you too.

You knows, you might find inspiration/motivation by watching the latest action movie featuring Dwayne Johnston or reading a book about a nurse who had tried her best to save dying soldiers during the war. It could even come from the way certain dancers appear to completely defy gravity. There are no rules, the choice is yours, (even Buddy Rich was inspired by Bruce Lee). So go for it, and be the best that you can be (not because it’s you job) but because you shouldn’t accept anything less for yourself.

Travis Marc.