Excerpt #5 from “Winning The Music Game” by Brian Allen
The Three Phases of Self-Development
The 3 phases of self-development that most successful career artists navigate are remarkably similar. The first stage is called FREEDOM, because the majority of people embark on their journey with an abundance of dreams but little skill to develop them. Therefore, they are not limited by anything other than their imagination to make a choice as to whether they want to commit to following their dreams or not. Remember the old saying “ignorance is bliss”? Remember the first notes you played? The world of music is fresh, exciting – a new land waiting to be explored. As musicians, we have all struggled to learn how to play our favourite songs and marvelled at the alchemy that must have been conjured up to write them. At some point, a fork in the road looms ahead – turn this way, and music is confined to hobby status. Turn the other way, and the commitment is made to pursue the fantasy career.
However, if they choose to get to work, they soon realize that the next phase is called DISCIPLINE. Hard work and skill at honing their craft characterizes this phase. Many are weeded out in the process, but an astounding number persevere. The methodology could be a series of courses at a recognized institution, private tuition, solitary hours of self-directed practice, or all three. Still, regardless of the abundance of accessible public examples of excellence available to everyone to use as aspiration standards, many learn just enough to (it would seem) make it through an entire song without forgetting a key part, and consider themselves ready to charge admission! Goaded by the subjective praise and encouragement of friends and relatives, the potential for developing an irrelevant sense of accomplishment is dangerously probable. “Good enough” is not a universal definition – there are as many interpretations of readiness as there are fingerprints in the universe. At this point in their development, only the sanest minds come to the realization that the true test is in achieving the praise of total strangers, and the highest of all is a stranger’s willingness to part with money to experience their creativity again. If in fact, they survive this second phase, the artist has officially launched the third phase and subsequently, a shot at a career. What do you think the third phase is called?
FREEDOM (yes, again).
Once one has truly learned their skills, one is free to choose how to apply them to the intended path. The hours of hard work have resulted in the freedom to express whatever brilliant flash of creativity explodes in the creator’s imagination without being held back by underdeveloped skill. There is a direct path from the soul to the listener. One is able to control both the most dramatic and subtle nuances of expression to make the musical statement understood. This is not to say that the learning can or should stop, but that the skills have been developed enough in the discipline phase to jump off a cliff and start flying freely and effectively. In my experience, the most successful artists and players have always driven themselves relentlessly to excel. They recognize that if they become complacent by resting on their skills, they might just lose their freedom.
“Winning The Music Game” is a book being written very slowly by Brian Allen based on his 40 years of experience in the music business