So I put out a challenge on my fan page the other day asking all my musicians to do a “1 minute lesson” with someone. The next time someone asked for help or tips, take them aside and just show them one simple thing they could take with them and practice. The idea was to break some of the negative images Gospel musicians have as selfish arrogant people who never give back.
Now, usually if I send a shout-out to the musicians on my fan page they show up in droves, chatting and posting comments, participating in the conversation and really hanging out with me. This time though, all I got in response was the finely tuned sound of crickets chirping. This is not something most musicians care to discuss.
Someone posted and asked me the question “So what is the reason most musicians don’t want to share tips?” I thought about it a while, trying to determine the best way to explain it to her without making the post too long. Well that didn’t work. My answer went on for several paragraphs, lol! But it got the attention of at least one musician who had an “OMG” moment, leaving me a kudos-filled comment generously sprinkled with lots of exclamation points.
So suffice it to say that I thought the answer seemed too important to leave it there on the page to be pushed down until it’s eventually out of sight. So I decided to post my answer as a blog for all my readers here. I hope this offers a different perspective for you to think about the next time this comes up for whatever reason. Or the next time you’re headed toward that organ after the benediction.
“So what is the reason must musicians don’t want to share tips?”
I have to qualify my answer by first saying I’m not at the level of many of the musicians who frequent the page. But while there could be any number of reasons, I think a lot of it has to do with the way people approach musicians about showing them things.
Highly skilled musicians don’t get that way by accident. Their skill represents years of dedicated practicing for sometimes hours at a time. People often approach musicians wanting to bypass that work and just go straight to the cool chords or the great run.
For example someone might hear a great chord and want the musician to show it to him note by note. But the musician knows the chord because he has painstakingly studied theory and learned how to build these amazing chords.
He also knows that most people who ask for the chords wouldn’t really know how to use it anyway. Then of course there is the proprietary aspect of such things as chords and runs, and how they tend to define the signature sound of one musician vs. another one. Musicians often create these chords and runs from scratch.
They work very hard developing such things, and I think it’s just a matter of wanting to see that kind of initiative in someone else, rather than simply asking for the notes.
One other example just to really illustrate it. Often skilled musicians will do these amazing runs. People hear them do it and then want the musician to just give them the run note by note. But the musician has studied and learned several different types of scales and their application, carefully worked the run out note by note and created it from scratch, then spent hours developing the muscle memory and speed..
So you can imagine he or she might be reluctant when someone walks up and just wants him to give it to them note by note. I think if people were asking musicians questions about practice tips and good resources to learn theory, etc. they’d get much less evasive answers.
I think you see musicians more willingly sharing with other musicians who have also achieved the same level or similar level. Simply because they know that person is at least as serious and as dedicated as he is.
People say that musicians don’t share because they’re selfish or worried about someone taking their spot, but seldom does a skilled musician have that to worry about, because so few people are willing to put the same amount of work in.
So this one-minute lesson challenge doesn’t ask musicians to do that. That’s why I called it a “one minute lesson” challenge. One minute or so is enough time to show that guy asking for the notes to the run you did the pentatonic scale, and explain to him that the scale is often used in many runs you hear in church. Then challenge him to learn the scale in all 12 keys.
If you’re trying to really take your playing to the next level you won’t get there asking for quick tips after church. You need some training. Specifically, training designed specifically for Gospel Musicians. The source I use and highly recommend is The Gospel Music Training Center, from Hear And Play. I’ve been a customer for years and they’ve helped me tremendously. Check it out here.