Tag Archives: books

Book Review: 3 Things I Learned From Mo Meta Blues by QuestLove

Ahmir Questlove is a drummer for The Roots, DJ, music journalist and record producer.

It’s awesome how much you can see that Questlove REALLY loves music. Just everything about it. The best part about all this is the hungriness in which he reads music reviews, including anywhere from Pitchfork to Rolling Stone to whoever. It’s great to me, cause Im thinking, “oh wait me too!”

Reading his book, there’s a lot of things we can learn.

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Book Review: Raising Kanye by Donda West

“My mama told me go to school, get your doctorate
But still supported me when I did the opposite”

-Kanye West, “Hey Mama” Late Registration

I have so much respect for Kanye.

I know he’s a very polarizing figure, but that’s what great art is ! Art that truly means something is suppose to make us feel, think and want to react to it.

Great art changes everything.

And art can only be great when it is tempered by unwavering persistence and a strong support system.

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Book Review: Improv For Actors by Dan Diggles

One of the most important things that we can do as musicians is to trust our instincts. Just completely give ourselves to the moment and be brave enough to see what comes out of it. And to have fun while doing it. One of the most effective ways to do that is improv. In rap, while you are freestyling, it is all essentially improv. Making use of the moment.

What This Book Is About

There are a lot of exercises in here. Especially a lot of ones for groups. The activities also come up with an explanation of why they are helpful. This book really helps actors stretch out their imagination. Dan also does a really good job of analyzing how body language affects social status. My favorite is if you bring up sex in a conversation, that implies that you have higher status because sex is taboo. There’s also a great breakdown of eye movement and body posture tips as well.

How This Book Helps Your SongWriting

I think doing these exercises  helps free your mind to be more creative. When your writing songs, you gotta be ok to fail. Not everything you write is going to be a hit. And that’s ok.  And I also really was digging the fact that sometimes the most normal things can be funny. Just literally calling out the most obvious can be the most entertaining part of a scene. With songwriting, sometimes the most ordinary topics can turn into the most powerful songs.

The 3 Rules Of Improv

(1) Say Yes And….

(2) Say The First Thing That Comes To Your Mind

(3) Make your partner look good.

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Book Review : Slaying The Dragon by Michael Johnson

After you have stared long enough into the dragon’s eyes, there is nothing left to do but slay the dragon.”

I think as a musician, we can relate a lot to athletes. The dedication. The doubt. The thrill of achieving. We’re always in conflict with our creations and we find ways to cope. Mostly we gotta deal with how great we can really get.  Most of the time, our mind can be our biggest challenge. This is where books like Slaying The Dragon come in handy.

Your mind needs a good kick in the ass. And who better to do it then someone who won gold medals in the 200M and 400M and someone who beat his own record. If you want to be successful, you have to start acting like successful people do. And your actions are the one thing that you have complete control over.

How This Book Helps Your SongWriting

I think the two things that I really took from this book are the importance of routines and sticking to your time commitment once you’ve made them.

Make a routine. For example, mine is do my 3 page notebook writing exercise from The Artist Way and then watch a money visualization youtube video. And I follow that routine religiously. The only times I don’t is when Im sleeping over a friend’s house, but I try to at least watch the video. And I gotta start bringing a notebook when I know Im waking up somewhere else the next day. Routines help your mind get in the creative mode. Which is the most important state we can be in.

The other being sticking to your time commitments. If you say you’re gonna practice till 5:00 PM, GODDAMNIT!!!! Practice till 5:00 PM. No excuses. All the best athletes and musicians in the world put in UnGodly amounts of practice. Over and over again. They simply just outwork everyone. And believe the reward of just putting in the time is worth it.

Michael Johnson is a winner. Gold shoes !!!! If you want to start being successful, read about how he did it.

Slaying The Dragon

TRAINING TIPS:

Here is one of Michael Johnson’s Mental Exercises

(1)    Dream Small

Think like a sprinter, in small increments. If your eventual goal is the Olympics, set goals along that path – “Improve my 800 time by 1 second” ; “Make the high school track team” Short term goals are the only reliable path.

(2)    Write Down Your Goals

This makes it formal and gives notice to yourself and others that the work has officially begun. And it keeps your goals and clear and in focus.

(3)    Be Specific

If your goal is to “get in shape,” you will – bad shape. It is far better to focus on specific goals, like a Run a 7 minute mile” or “do 50 sit-ups a day.” “In the office, finish the Wilkinson report by May 1” works; “Get caught up at work” does not.

(4)    Be Realistic

You can accomplish most things you set out to do, but it will take time. Don’t shoot for something unattainable – completely outside of your nature or opportunity.

(5)    Know Yourself

Find your core, that thing you are chasing. Set goals based on what you really want, not what other people expect of you. And don’t assume that goals are only for the competitive areas of your life. You can make goals, for family, relationships, anything.

My goals are for now are to get 100 hits on my blog everyday. To finish my acoustic album. And to play Warped Tour.

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Think And Grow Rich By Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich (amazon link)

What This Book Is About

If there is one book that has influenced the whole self-help era, it is this one. I don’t think there isn’t a single “positive” blogger that isn’t indebted to these words in one way or another.  I feel like Napoleon Hill is The Beatles of the self-help world. This book is all about knowing what you want, focusing in on it, and finding others like you.

How It Helped Me

 One of the most important themes of this book is the idea that what you put in your head will manifest itself in real life. That’s pretty much the idea that all self help books are based on. There is a whole chapter devoted to Autosuggestion, which is also a form of affirmations and visualization. You need to be aware of what you feed yourself mentally and this book shows how you can do that. I also like that basically you have to decide specifically what you want, and just go for it. My favorite quote of the book is

“For every failure, every heartache, every adversity, there is an equal or greater benefit.”

 


Everyone knows musicians go through a lot of obstacles to do what they want to do. This book is a good kick in the ass to say “HEY KEEP GOING, NO MATTER WHAT!” And that you have to creatively visualize yourself in successful situations.

Another central idea to this book is the idea of the mastermind. You have to find people who have the same goals as you. The energy is just so different when you find songwriters on the same wavelength. So if you want to be a successful musician, you have to find another driven musician.

Do you have a mastermind group? Who is in it?

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The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield                

What This Book Is About

When you choose to be an artist, It feels  like that there are a million obstacles that get in your way. You have people telling you can’t do it. You have bills that need to get paid. There’s never enough time in the day. It feels like everything is trying to stop you. What sucks is the worst of these obstacles is the one living in your head.

Luckily, we have Steven Pressfield, who helps us identify what this force working against us is, and also tells us how to beat it. This mysterious energy standing in our way is called Resistance. And the only way to beat is to do what we love and need to do.

How It Helped Me

I’ve read a million self help books. And for some reason, the wording in The War Of Art is just so relatable and inspiring. I love how he says you need to treat your creative output like a job because that’s the only way to sit down and get the work done. Rappers call it “The Grind” and it’s pretty much athletes just spending time in the gym. That’s it, simple as that.

Before I read this book, whenever I felt lazy, I would always question my passion for making songs and wonder if it’s for me. But afterwards, I realized that everyone goes through it and that working through those “tired” days is the only way to keep going. Same with shows and doing open mics. Im always scared shitless before I go on stage, but I realized that is just Resistance rearing it’s ugly head again.

It also helped me realize the difference between thinking an activity is helping me or if an activity is actually helping me. I would spend A LOT of time watching tv and movies, or playing videogames, thinking it’s inspiring me. Instead of actually working on music. Now I realize I need to sit down on a table and write lyrics or get on my computer and just start making beats.

Definitely one of the greatest books ever when it comes to reminding artists to do what needs to be done.

As Im writing this the Eminem and Royce Da 5’9 and Bruno Mars “Lighters” Song is playing. How fitting.

“The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist.”

so how many hours a day do you spend on your passion ?

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