standing at the crossroads

8 Jul

“I’m standing at the crossroads, believe I’m sinking down” (Robert Johnson)

I don’t think I’ve really felt like this before. It’s like being in a horrible relationship and I’m ready to throw it all away. I’m ready to quit guitar lessons and take a break from music for a long time. I’ve lost enthusiasm. I am terribly lost. I don’t know what to do. I realized however that maybe I’m asking the wrong questions. I’ve been focusing on writing songs and especially how to write better lyrics. I’ve been reading Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison. I understand more about object writing and how my writing is the complete opposite, writing solely from emotions. While I’ve learned a lot, I’ve also been frustrated at being told what to do, what is right and wrong. So far, the book hasn’t mentioned creativity. I’ve now realized that Pat Pattison might have fostered the success of John Mayer, but sometimes you can only take so much advice with a grain of salt. Now my new question begins with creation. How to artists create? How do artists keep it real? Along with being stuck writing songs, adding to the flame of rage is my dislike for my guitar teacher. I know teachers can only do so much, but this teacher has my last straw. Seems like every week he tries to reschedule me, cancel on the day of and is late to his own appointments. For so many months, he thought my name was ‘Laura’ and is so unorganized he can’t seem to keep track of the rest of his 50 somewhat students. He seems to do more talking than actual doing. I don’t need to be in this stressful, time as well as money wasting and uninspiring environment. I feel like I need hope, now at my lowest low and hope that I’ll find a teacher who can lead me into the right directions. I need a light that will bring me back believing I can write songs and convince me I am a musician, a singer/songwriter and I have a voice.

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One Response to “standing at the crossroads”

  1. Mike August 5, 2011 at 23:02 #

    I don’t know if this will be read or it will be any help, but I’m at a somewhat similar position to you. I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with guitar specifically every week and am consider giving it up (and ending my lessons). I’ve always been frustrated with my lyrical writing for the most part (mostly because I feel I can never say what’s in my head) and I actually essentially had a writer’s block for songwriting a few weeks ago. It’s a frustrating position to be in.

    One thing my guitar teacher suggested for me when I felt dead songwriting wise was to find a sound I liked or something you want to go for(for me I chose progressive rock), pick a song that fits it, and essentially write a song similar to that song (using it as inspiration). He said pick five aspects of the song and use them for your song. It helped me a lot, I wrote a song with it and now my band’s going to use that song (it evidently doesn’t suck). Maybe that will work. Another thing that usually works with writing or anything is taking a small break.

    As for the guitar teacher, he doesn’t sound very good at all. I would certainly stop wasting money and time one it and who knows. Maybe that big change in your music life will be enough to liberate you from your feelings of stagnancy and no-inspiration. You can self-teach for a while (which is how I learned to play drums and a few of my musician friends learned how to play guitar) or find a new teacher who will hopefully be better. There are lots of really good teachers out there so don’t settle for one who isn’t working for you.

    As for being told what to do and striving to be better, I don’t know if books is a good way to go. I bought a book on songwriting and though it’s one the best books ever and has given me many good ideas I use it rarely. I haven’t read the majority of it and I usually don’t use it while I’m songwriting. For me at least picking up pieces and adding it to your cumulative knowledge is better than adhering to something solid like one book. The problem with learning from one thing too is if it’s not a good source of information you’re screwed. I wouldn’t strictly adhere to rules or adivce that people give you (even what I’m saying xD). When it comes to playing or writing there are no rules.

    One thing you can do to stay motivated is to not stress out (which I admittedly have been doing a lot lately) and listen to music you like. Use it as inspiration. Draw inspiration from the bands you like while you songwrite, listening to music will not only create a good atmosphere, but can give you ideas too. Also remember, creating songs is hard and it frustrates every songwriter. And we are often our own most harsh critic. John Lennon would hate some of the stuff he wrote (particularly when he was a solo artist), you see it with musicians all the time. Bands will create entire albums and throw them out because the music doesnt feel alive to them. Everybody has low points and writes music they don’t like, as long as you stay confident in your abilites to write music it should be good. And if you hate a lot of what you do musically and for a while it seems to be bad for you, maybe songwriting or playing guitar, etc just isn’t for you. Don’t chain yourself to something you hate, though I would be sure you don’t like it before you call it quits. I hope this helps in at least some way 🙂

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