The Content Consumption/Creation Ratio

I’ve had this topic vaguely in mind for a little while now, but after a couple months of self quarantine, it seems more appropriate than ever…

With people losing jobs, being furloughed or working reduced hours, musicians without gigs, and well, nowhere to go, it seems like plenty of folks (myself included) are consuming a LOT of media.

I don’t just mean “news media” or current events. I’m talking about all of it, from books to Netflix, video games to YouTube channels, and everything in between (yes, social media feeds too). We’re all filling our time in various ways, and when we’re mostly stuck in the house, these outlets are a great place to turn.

Not all media consumption is bad, and I don’t want to indicate as such. Hell, if we consider ourselves to be any kind of “content creators,” we want people to consume media. I want people to watch my videos and read my words, and the giant teams that make movies, series, and games certainly want us to indulge in their wares as well (more on that later).

The trouble, however, is when consumption becomes the default mode of operation – especially for we creators. If you don’t make “media” of your own, this isn’t really for you…

But for those of us that do (in any capacity, even if it’s just music to perform for others or audio-only recordings), I think it’s important – especially nowadays – to strike some kind of balance between intake and output… And if nothing else, to be mindful of how and why we’re taking this stuff into our brains.

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Make Stuff, Put it Out

I started this topic well before all of the pandemic insanity, but perhaps now it’s more important than ever to flesh it out, as creative habits have been essential to my wellbeing, and a ton of us have drastically different schedules than we’re used to…

I’ve been slacking on this blog like crazy. This is only my second post since September of last year. I could give you all kinds of reasons, doing other writing, focusing on practice and booking, not making it a priority…

And while those things are true, there’s something else going on as well.

I haven’t felt very confident in my ideas for this project – or my writing about them – and that makes me hesitate. Like any other area of creativity, there’s the age-old problem of imposter syndrome, and it can leave me wondering why I’d have any authority to speak on these topics, why anyone would care what I might have to say…

But that’s only part of it. The other source of my waning confidence as a music/drumming/creativity blogger is, well, depth.

I tend to look at everything as a vastly complex nebula of ideas and sub-ideas (nerd alert). Eveything has near-infinite details that bear investigating… And I’ve accidentally convinced myself that if I can’t tackle a subject with all its myriad subtleties, then I have no business writing about it in the first place.

This post is my attempt to throw that thought in the garbage, and hopefully pull some others out of the wastebasket in the process.

Say this with me: IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT. 

You can make and share work that has flaws and shortcomings, and so can I. Just because I can’t cover every nuance and chase down every angle of one topic or another, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to write about it at all… Or more accurately, fine tune it into infinity, and never actually let anyone see it.

Every piece of creative work we do is a representation of us in that moment in time. We use the skills we presently have, the headspace we’re in, and a current understanding of our ideas to make something, and the thing IS WHAT IT IS.

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The Confidence/Knowledge Paradox

Confidence is a strange beast. Some seem to possess it inherently, others seem to fight to find it their entire lives. Musicians are notorious for this dichotomy, many acting as their “own worst critics” or constantly chasing some sense of artistic achievement that’s always out of reach.

The mighty Beethoven, a true master by all accounts, once wrote in a letter to a young admirer:

“The true artist is not proud, he unfortunately sees that art has no limits; he feels darkly how far he is from the goal; and though he may be admired by others, he is sad not to have reached that point to which his better genius only appears as a distant, guiding sun.”

Even a man of his tremendous achievement is plagued by doubt, disheartened by some goal that always seems just over the horizon. Maybe it’s just part of being an artist…

But it’s also just part of being a human.

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Authenticity: Social and Musical Currency

I’ve been a little lost on what to write about lately. I’m not a pro drummer, I’m just working on it – so who the hell am I? Why does it matter what I have to say?

…But oh so gradually, I’ve been starting to figure it out. From the conversations I have with my musical peers to the responses I got on Sarahah, the marketing material I edit for my dayjob to a talking point at the Derico Watson clinic I recently attended… The message shows itself time and time again – most of us are just too stuck to soak it in:

THERE’S ONLY ONE YOU

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Creative Confidence

[This was originally written as an internal blog for my day job at LongerDays, but seemed fitting for here too… This goes for way more than drumming! Let me know what holds you back.]

Putting yourself out there can be scary… Even more so when you’re sharing a creative work. We pour ourselves into these projects to sharpen skills, to express ourselves, to get a message across… But when it comes time to share it with the world, the propensity to hesitate is OH SO REAL.

But why?

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Transform Your Anger to Art

People seem unhappy. There are things happening in the forefront of public discourse that spark a lot of disagreement. Anger and fear, even just mild disgust, seem all the more common.

As usual, it’s that much more visible too (thanks internet), but it’s hard to ignore a pervasive sentiment of negativity.

I may be wandering into controversial territory…

FIRST AND FOREMOST: a big ol’ caveat for this post… I am not inviting political and ideological debate of the usual sort. Not in the comments here, or anywhere on social media. If you want to have a productive discussion, we can (one on one) – but this has way less to do with politics and way more to do with art.

…Or at least creativity.

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The Twofold Path – Part 4: Application

Over the last three entries on this here blog, I’ve been trying to cover my current (loose) approach to learning and developing my skillset on the drums. I’m calling it “The Twofold Path” because there are, well, two primary elements – exactly what I looked in Parts 2 and 3 – “chops” and “groove.”

Surely there are plenty of other things to consider in this vast world of percussive music making, but for me… Right now… This is where my head’s at.

In Part 2, the focus was chops and technical facility on the kit, and that should be a pretty major part of everyone’s practice. Really, this side of the coin can be expanded into anything technically oriented – speed, independence, pattern memorization, technique…

The other side (covered in Part 3) can be expanded into everything musical and practical – including things that require the ability and facility mentioned above.

Where one side is physical, the other is mostly mental.

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Press On: Why Making Music Matters… Even When It Seems Like It Doesn’t

Damn, I almost tumbled into a terrible valley a little while back. Somewhere over the course of the day, I lost sight of work ethic, though that’s putting it a little lightly…

I have this propensity, from time to time, to think too hard about the biggest questions (vast spans of time and space, inevitability, etc.) and without getting nihilistic here, it gets a bit dark up there in my brainpiece (I save that kind of writing for another place – occasionally). Applied to drumming though, it’s an ugly path to wander down.

You stop thinking about the long road of learning, the joy of growth, and get caught up in A) discouraged feelings of “not good enough,” and B) some sense that it doesn’t mean anything, that it’s an empty pursuit.

These are dangerous thoughts.

Fortunately, these bouts of negativity don’t last too terribly long these days. I’ve kind of developed a way of thinking myself back out of them – in very much the same way I think myself into them in the first place… And if you’ve wandered into this treacherous mental territory, I want to help you do the same.
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