Friday, August 05, 2016



Someone said that "the cure for frustration is patience".   It sounds good.  It sounds nice.  Is it true?  Usually frustration will happen when you are trying to do something, anything, and it is not going like how you would like it to go.  It could be that something in general is not happening at the rate that you expect it to happen.  Maybe you are stuck in the low side of a learning curve and it feels like you are not moving at all.  So then you feel a feeling and (if you're really stupid, as I have been) you make up a story to tell yourself.  You give it all a "meaning".  I'm not smart enough.  I'm not good enough.  I am stupid.  I am not talented enough.  I'll never get this.  It is ___________ fault.  Fill in the blank with: parents or friends or enemies or competitors.

All kinds of things can be frustrating, when you practice.  The first thing to do is to stop.  Usually there will be one of two things missing: 1) knowledge or 2) experience.  Experience can include little, insufficient, or no practice.  Find what you need and continue.

It is very unrealistic to expect something to simply happen of its own accord.  You should have already learned this in life, but if you didn't, now is a good time.  Think of the bad time you had at the dance you went to and you sat in a chair and at the end of the night you went home in tears because nobody asked you to dance.  Why did you go in the first place?  If you went there to dance, you danced.  BUT...  If you went there to be asked to dance, you set yourself up to be total effect.  When you are total effect you are not participating in life.  When you are not participating in life, you may be apathetic.  Unless you have a damned good reason to be apathetic, you're being pathetic.

Your attitude toward life and your attitude toward practice have everything to do with your outcome and your progress.  Do you persist or do you resist?  Do you look to the end goal or do you look at your inability to be perfectly perfect the first time through something?  Do you persist at learning or do you resist learning?  You can be your own worst enemy but that does take more effort than just getting the job done.


I spent decades practicing: singing, piano, composition, arranging, trombone and other things.  I wanted to be as great in the "real world" as I could be in my mind.  I could envision what and how I wanted things to sound.  To be at your best in any art, you can be passionate all you want but you must approach things with the appropriate emotions.  Frustration is inappropriate for creativity.  So are anger, rage, violence, hate, and other heavy emotions which will make art turn to something less than art.  You can put those emotions, as appropriate, into lyrics or performance or songs but when they are turned against yourself, you will slow or stop all progress.

I have felt frustration, anger, rage and even self-loathing and self-deprecation and none of those are constructive.  I have thrown things, broken things, punched holes in walls and none of that helped my music get any better.  It just made more problems that had to be solved.  The amount of time wasted with negative emotions can be ridiculous.  If you ever think you are being stupid, you may be, if you go through all the drama just to end up having wasted your own time and opportunity.  Practice is an opportunity.  Treat it with respect and your art can be more respectable.

One night I was with a friend in his recording studio (which I had designed--I also did the mixing room for NBC Burbank).  We were working on an arrangement of an original song written by my daughter.  He was "laying down" some guitar fills.  He played a few notes and made a mistake.  He hit rewind and record.  It happened again--the same mistake.  Rewind.  Record.  Again, the same mistake.  Rewind.  Record.   Perfect this time.  No reaction and no emotion and no wasted time.  No chairs flew across the room.  There were no Anglo-Saxon expletives being screamed from his mouth.  No fists through walls.  Nothing kicked across the room.  No wasted time.  What was the objective?  To get the guitar licks recorded perfectly.  This happened in a span of maybe two minutes.  Nothing was hurt.  No one was offended.  No respect was lost.  The man is a phenomenal musician with phenomenal credentials and had been one of my mentors for over 20 years.  His focus was on having it right, NOT on why it wasn't or THAT it wasn't and his focus paid off.   I knew he could play anything with anyone but in this brief episode resulting in perfection, he taught me more about being a true professional.  Patience is not only the cure for frustration, it can head it off at the pass, partner!