The Fleeting Fancies of Fledglings [Part 2/3]: The Analysis

In the last blog, the article titled “Teenage Music Listening Habits: The Terrifying Truth” was posted. If you didn’t read the article, you can check it out here:

As promised, here is my analysis on that article, but keep in mind that depending on what side of the coin you’re on, this can be a good thing or a bad thing. Before we dig in, let me explain that I totally understand that this article is not representative of EVERY teenager living on planet Earth. However, since this article is published, there must be some sort of majority that feels this way, so let’s dig in:


This article is a good thing simply because if you’re trying to make a quick buck with the 18 and under crowd, then this article will tell you exactly how to do it and I would say to treat this article like GOLD! Ultimately, the formula whittles down to this:

1. Make ONE song that follows popular musical trends.

2. Post it on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Spotify.

3. Cash in.

4. Repeat steps 1 through 3 if you want more cash.

This formula is simple in its construct and doesn’t require that a person be a musical artist per se, but rather it requires a person to be an awesome engineer possibly with keyboarding experience OR, to a lesser degree, access to musicians. In the article, the first line under “So what do I do with this information” reads:

“Concentrate on one song at a time. Record, release, promote. Rinse and repeat.”

If this is your M.O. then, by all means, go for it. Make your money and go on about your day. You shalt not receiveth a cup of Haterade from me for I have bills too. LOL!


This article can be a bad thing, but, to a greater degree, I think it’s more depressing than anything else. Why? Because a real musical artist is going to do what a real musical artist does… and that is usually not limited to ONE song. When I was 18, we had to buy the whole CD to get to the one song that we heard on the radio. The funny part about that is the one song on the radio probably wasn’t the best song on the entire project. Don’t get it wrong, there were DEFINITELY “dud projects”, but, for the most part, full CD projects were pretty good to the point where you could listen to the entire CD again and again.

But you had to LISTEN TO THE WHOLE CD to find that out.

So this article is a bad thing in the sense that:

1. …teenagers deprive themselves of finding out whether an artist is truly worth their time.
*The sum total of an artist is not the ONE popular song that they created. For example, Bobby McFerrin is a phenomenal singer/musician, but he is only KNOWN for “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”… a song that he himself considered nothing more than a trifle. Speaking of “Happy”, Pharrell is a musical genius as well so I certainly hope he doesn’t get pigeon-holed in the same fashion.

2. …teenagers limit themselves to music that sounds alike.
*Consider this: teenagers listen to ONE song at a time… with no true artist loyalty… and that ONE song probably sounds like every other ONE song downloaded into their MP3 device… which makes for a boring musical lexicon.

3. …teenagers miss out on using the entirety of your brain to regularly challenge their musical tastes.
*How can they KNOW if they like Jazz if they’ve never heard it?

As attention spans are shortened by an MTV-like blizzard of images and sounds, it’s causing music to try to keep up with the fleeting fancies of fledglings because that’s where the fast money is…

…and the music is suffering as a result.



Sometimes All It Takes…

…is a leap of faith.

(at least that’s how the song goes)

With God there are no coincidences so it’s no surprise that this blog is actually a “part 2” of the blog I posted last Wednesday titled “Lord… Why NOT Me?” While I was at Famous Daves at a family dinner, I heard this song come over the PA system. Famous Daves is a rib joint known for it’s blues-based musical selections, but this one caught my attention. I don’t know if it was because I had just gotten out of Sunday morning service, or the fact that the previous week was more challenging than I thought, but when I heard the hook to this song it made me say “OK God… I hear you” (and YES you can hear God through blues music).

What was the hook that caught my attention? Glad you asked. Went a little something like this…

“Sometimes all it takes… is a leap of faith.”

Which reminded me of this particular scripture…

“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” -Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)

And how does the song go? Well… check it out. I don’t know if this is the original writer or not, but it sounds mighty similar to what I heard in the restaurant. Here’s Mingo Fishtrap performing “Leap of Faith” at the House of Blues.

What do you think? Shared wisdom makes us all stronger.

Also, if you happen to know who the original writer of this song is, I’d love to know that too. The guy in the clip says it at the beginning, but I can’t really make out what he said.

Creatively Blocked

As a musical artist, did you ever run into that inevitable “creativity block”? You can sit at the piano (or your respective instrument) and not one creative thing will come out? That’s a hard thing for an artist to deal with. Sure, you hear of those artists who deal with that through substance abuse (alcohol and drugs), but that typically has a short life expectancy. So how do you deal with a creativity block that won’t result in a hangover the next day? I’ve noticed in my lifetime that the basics always seem to work (for me anyway), which may include but are definitely not limited to the following:

1. Go outside and take a walk/run.

2. Play a video game.

3. Exercise.

4. Go out and eat a good meal.

5. Talk to a family member/friend… meaning to literally “talk” to them… no text, email, or electronic communication.

6. Go to the mall or Wal-mart or Target and walk around.

7. Go to your local library and find a good non-music book to read.

8. Go to a coffee shop/bookstore and do the B part of #7.

9. Go catch a movie.

10. Get some friends together for a card game/social gathering.

You’ll notice that the suggestions above don’t include music. The general idea is to get away from the music for just a little while so that your mind will decompress and relax before going back to it again. Besides, being out and about will help you to not focus so much on whatever creativity block you’re dealing with and help you focus on being in the moment wherever you are. The human spirit and the human mind have a way of providing an answer when least expected. As much as I am a fan of great work ethic, I’m also a fan of downtime because it’s necessary. After all, mountains are only mountains because of the valleys.

What do you think? How do you deal with a creativity block?

P.S. – I almost named this blog “CREATIVE CONSTIPATION”, but I decided against it for the sake of you, the reader. LOL!

The Transpose Key Is Evil

Cell phones. Computers. Power windows. iPods and iPads. Google maps. Don’t you just love technology? While they are a testament to the technological advancements and achievements of mankind, there is also another commonality that all these items have. Dependency. Think about it. When is the last time you actually DIALED all of the numbers to a person’s phone number? In like manner, a keyboard’s transpose key is another item that creates dependency. Yes I did say that the transpose key is evil, but only in the sense that it creates a false sense of security and ends up being a setup for a future stumble. While it does serve a purpose, a keys player who is on their grind studying, learning, and getting better all the time should be working to understand their craft on their instrument in all 12 keys without the assistance of a transpose key. The other piece of this is simply that you don’t want to be caught out there with your dependency exposed. Think of it like this. If the electricity were to go off at a gig or event and the only other instrument available was a tuned piano, would you be able to play that as well as the electric keyboard? Even if you don’t have it all figured out in all 12 keys, work towards it. Make it a goal to be comfortable in a new key every 4-6 months. Challenge yourself by playing in that key more often. Find a song that you like in that key, learn the song, and apply it to what you do. In fact, the main reason I know how to play in the key of B natural is because I learned how to play “Incomplete” by Sisqo (from the R&B group Dru Hill) back in high school. True story. Always remember, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
What do you think? Shared wisdom makes us all stronger.

Flashback To The Good Ol’ Band Days

This post is dedicated to all my band people representing “S… C… H… S… (5)… (6)… (7)… 8!” (aka “The Marching Cougars”)
A very interesting thing has happened on Facebook. I was recently tagged in a post that involved all of my bandmates from high school. I was in marching band (on trumpet), concert band (on trumpet), jazz band (on keys), and gospel choir (on keys). Even though my high school was (and still is) small, the list of people tagged on this post was pretty extensive. Talk about a flashback to the good ol’ band days. We’re talking about pieces of music that we used to play, trophies and awards (something that we had a lot of), superior ratings that we came back from competition with, and a whole number of other things. As I’m reading all of the posts and responses and responses to responses, one specific thing comes to mind: COMMUNITY. Band not only gives you something in common (hence the definition of the word “band”), but it creates a sense of unity through music. Shared victories and even shared defeats build a musical community that you can be proud of so if you’re in a band now (regardless of what type of band it is), take it all in. The experiences that you share with YOUR bandmates will stay with you for a lifetime.
What do you think? Shared wisdom makes us all stronger.

“I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me…”

Yet again, here is a blog for all the seasoned musical veterans reading this. Go back into your memory banks to the year 1984 when an artist named Rockwell came out with a little diddy called “Somebody’s Watching Me” with the main line of the chorus being “I always feel like somebody’s watching me” (as sung by the great Michael Jackson just in case you didn’t know). If you weren’t around in 1984 (or two years old at the time like I was) then you can still possibly know this song through the remix by Misto and Pizzi for the Geico commercials a few years back… but I digress. I want to pose a question to you: Do you ever feel like somebody’s watching you? Always know that your life is on display. What you do, when you do it, and how you do it are always on display for others to see. The apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:3 (NIV) “You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” You are, in essence, a “living epistle” (“epistle” translated as “letter”) from God. So the better question is: Are you living in a way where you don’t mind people watching? Regardless of your answer, guess what? Aside from God, somebody at some point is always watching you.

What do you think? Shared wisdom makes us all stronger.

Did you forget the song? Check it out here:


The Hunt For Great Music

Every generation thinks that their music is the best. Everyone from your grandparents, to your parents, to you, to your children, to your grandchildren think that the musical results of their generation are the best. I remember back in the 90’s when The Fugees came out with “Killing Me Softly” (two time… time) and I thought that was the hottest song around until I listened to it in the car while riding with my Mom who, upon hearing it, simply said “I didn’t know Roberta Flack did that song again.” So… yeah… that wasn’t the “coolest” ride home after that particular statement, but it got me to thinking at a young age that maybe great music goes beyond generational boundaries. That’s when I really started to study music comparing current pop music to past music and it was soon after that I realized how much music gets recycled into various other genres of music (Gospel, rap, hip hop, R&B, elevator music, TV commercials, etc, etc.). As I continued to study and research music past and present, the most interesting thing that I found was that the music that was recycled was the music that could stand the test of time. So perhaps a great song is one that is relatable to any generation or perhaps has one of those undeniable grooves. Just a working theory, but it seems to fit the facts.

What do you think? Shared wisdom makes us all stronger.