If you feel that what I’m about to say is insulting or in anyway an attack on you as a musician/performer…then chances are yes, this was directed at you.
Last week I met a friend for coffee and during the conversation he shared with me how blown away he was by the Iron Maiden show he saw a week earlier. He couldn’t get over how strong of a performance the band put on, how at their ages they were running all over the stage and never missing a beat. How Bruce Dickinson could still hit every note, would jump from one ramp to the next with no hesitation all after beating throat cancer and most likely getting into the cockpit of the Iron Maiden plane after the show to fly the band and crew to the next destination. This is why their legends. To still be able to perform at that level left my friend awestruck.
On April 21 word travelled quickly of the loss of musical legend, Prince. All day long my feeds were filled with people sharing Prince lyrics, memories, and a handful of videos showcasing how talented he was. One story that stood out was on the evening news as part of their coverage on Prince’s passing. Turns out prior to performing here in Edmonton, Prince had requested some space to rehearse. That place ended up being Axe Music and while interviewing one of the employees who was there on that date he shared that Prince and his band rehearsed for 8 hours straight with Prince only stepping out twice to go pee. I think it’s safe to say if I rehearsed for 8 hours straight, I’d be pretty good too…or at least I’d like to think I’d be good.
So how are these two stories related? While chatting about Bruce Dickinson’s performance, we both shared how that generation of performer (Bruce Dickinson is 58 and Prince was 57) was just on a completely other level compared to a lot of what we see today. An abundance of talent. A passion for music that pushes them to continually be on top of their game. The understanding that they are performing for others, that their job is to entertain and engage their audience and not the other way around.
Now, what I’m about to say next is 100% meant to be in the interest of helping those aspiring ‘rockstars’ to reach a new level.
If you think you’ve got what it takes to ‘make it’…you don’t. If you want to ‘make it’, never stop practicing, never stop writing, never stop performing. Continually strive to develop and build your ability to play and perform music. I hear it all the time “Yeah, we’re ready…we are SO ready”. Sure, you might be ready to play in a local venue for a handful of friends, but that doesn’t mean you’re ready to ‘make it’. It doesn’t matter if your mom, your best friends or complete strangers tell you you are awesome, you can always be better and to ‘make it’ you need to always be striving to get better. Yes, there will always be exceptions, people with pure talent that just makes you sick how they appear to do it with ease, but even if you are one of those prodigies, you’re not. The minute you don’t think you need to improve, practice or prepare, you are done. Don’t practice for that moment. Practice to practice. Practice for whatever is coming next and whatever is coming after that. It’s impossible to practice too much, but highly possible to not practice enough.
We need more legends. We need artists to start blowing us away again. You think you’re able to step in those shoes? Well, lucky for you this is the end of my rant so now you can shut off your computer and go practice. And in the words of my father, who taught me how to play, “when you’re done practicing…practice again”