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HOW TO EASILY DEVELOP A WRITING OR PRACTICE ROUTINE

Chris Jacobie

A few weeks ago, I asked an aspiring singer-songwriter what his biggest challenge is. His response was one I've heard from every musician I know at some point: 

"Man, I don't have time to practice or write songs. My plan is to get out of town for 3 months next year and hunker down to practice and write."

If you're anything like me, you've had this thought more than once: 

Wouldn't it be great if I could pause my life, head out into the woods Bon Iver-style and finally get some shit done? 

I, for one, can't ever seem to make that happen. Instead, developing helpful routines tends to take me further.

To illustrate routine building, I'll use an exercise analogy.

 

First, here are two ineffective techniques: 

 

Option #1: 

  • Put on gym clothes. 
  • Head to gym. 
  • Run as hard as possible for 30 minutes. 
  • Head home. 
  • Pass out 
  • Never go again. 

Option #2: 

  • Become a barefoot, trail-running maniac for 3-6 months at the expense of the rest of your life. Finally suffer from over-training and quit running altogether. 

 

Yep, I've done both of those. 

 

Instead, what if you approached it like this? 

  1. Wake up a little earlier than you normally do now, put on gym clothes, and drive to gym. 
  2. Sit in parking lot for 2 minutes. 
  3. Repeat Step #1.
  4. Walk into the gym and stand there for 2 minutes. Go home.
  5. Repeat Step #1.
  6. Stand on the treadmill for 2 minutes. Go home.
  7. Repeat Step #1.
  8. Walk on treadmill for 2 minutes. STOP. Go home.
  9. Repeat Step #1
  10. Run on treadmill for 2 minutes. STOP. Go home. 
  11. Repeat Step #1
  12. Then start SLOWLY creeping up your time until you reach 30 min/day. 

Get it? Baby steps... baby steps... 

Try applying that to writing music or practicing. Start by sitting down and holding your instrument. Then after 2 minutes put it up. No matter what, do not let yourself noodle around. That's reinforcing a bad habit. Then, write it down in your practice journal. "Sat with guitar for 2 minutes." 

Do that for 21 days and you'll have developed a practice routine. 

Now, what are you going to practice???

Chris

THE 3 SECRETS TO LEARNING ANY INSTRUMENT IN RECORD TIME

Chris Jacobie

...even if you don't have a ton of time to practice

If you want to learn a new instrument or take your current instrument up a notch you've come to the right place. In this post, I'm going to share with you how I went from struggling to hold a drumstick to competence in only 3 months. 

Before I share the secrets, here's what not to do: buy a drum-set and start trying to play your favorite song. That's what I did on piano in 4th grade to learn the Star Wars theme song. I still can't play that song and still suck at piano. 

Okay, so how did I do it this time around? 

I broke it down to the fundamentals. Before playing music, I needed unconscious competence with my hand and foot technique. 

You can't write a novel if you're thinking about how to hold a pencil or how to type. 

To pull this off, I found an accountability partner. This is key. Think about it: if you don't have a friend or trainer meeting you at the gym, it's a lot easier to skip, isn't it? It also helps if that accountability partner knows about what you're trying to learn. 

I couldn't exactly afford it but... I know that successful people invest in themselves so I hired a teacher that is a hand technique wizard. We Skyped every week or two and he baby-stepped me into developing proper hand technique. 

In 2 months, we NEVER played a song or even talked about playing a song. 

Some of you might be thinking... "That sounds great Chris but I don't have time to practice." Yes, you do. 

The final step is this: you have to use Parkinson's law to your advantage. Parkinson's Law says, "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion". This means that you need to put something permanent on the calendar that's a bit scary. What I did was planned a production 3 months out and... didn't hire a drummer. 

So to conclude here are the things you need to do: 

Become unconsciously competent on fundamentals before ever playing music. 

Hire an accountability partner to keep you on track. 

Use Parkinson's law to your advantage. 

Enjoy your new found competence by making better music with more ease. 

If you'd like to read more about practice techniques start here:

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And if you'd like me to serve as your accountability teacher, hit me up via the contact page.

The 10 Books That Changed My Musical Life

Chris Jacobie

A few months ago, JP Ruggieri and I were enjoying a pint of Guinness in an English pub and talking music... 

During the conversation, we got to talking about books that changed our musical lives. 

I want to share them with you.

I judge a book's success if a year later I'm still using at least 1 thing from the book.

Takeaways from my 10 favorite music books: 

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  • What good music sounds like.
  • There’s nothing new under the sun. 

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  • Fixed vs. growth mindset. 
  • Stay in the goldilocks zone. 

Writing Better Lyrics
By Pat Pattison
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  • How to fix a broken song. 

  • How to thwart mix overwhelm. 
  • How to choose a microphone. 
  • The emotional power of the auto 3D Effect.

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  • How to visualize a mix. 
  • Developing your own production aesthetic.

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  • Is the artist happy?
  • Accentuate what makes the artist different.

Guitar Rigs: Classic Guitar & Amp Combinations - Dave Hunter

  • The amp is more important than the guitar. 
  • There are less than 10 basic guitar tones. Start there and then make your own.

The Ultimate Drum Tuning Revolution DVD - Udo Masshoff (Okay, it's a DVD)

  • Tuning drums is an easy system. 
  • There are less than 10 basic drum tones. Start there and then make your own.

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  • How to not be fooled by your monitoring system.
  • Using early reflections to take your mixes to the next level. 
  • More speaker volume = less compression and vice versa. 

  • How to think like a mixer and not a musician. (hint: think A-B NOT A+B). 
  • Where to place EQ’s in the signal chain. 
 

Happy Reading!

Chris

 

Note: When I first read these books, I was reading at the avg. human reading speed which is about 200 words per minute (wpm). It was a slog to get through them all. Most books are around 90,000 words. You can do the math... 

Then, I took Howard Berg's Maximum Power Learning courses. Howard is The World's Fastest Reader. Because of his courses, I've more than doubled my reading speed. 

When you take his course, you'll be able to read these books at least twice as fast as your peers. Which means, you'll be on the FAST TRACK to a sustainable music career. 

If you're tired of not being able to craft your musical vision, you need to read these books. And you need to read them FAST. 

Click here to start Howard's course today.