In all these years of helping people reach their goals in music I learned something profound. I have very high expectations for the people I work with. I know what a difference it makes because when I first started doing it, it didn’t work that way.
I never made a conscious decision to start teaching. People just kept asking me after performances and after about the hundredth time I said yes. Once I started teaching private guitar instruction in the Park Cities Dallas Ft Worth Area I quickly discovered something about myself. I had an English teacher in high school named Ms. Conley, she was tough and would not take any bullshit.
Any time, any where, from any body.
I didn’t know why at the time, but I always wanted to please her. Now that I look back I can see her wisdom. Not only did she care, but she demanded that you respect your time with her. You should look up Marva Collins. She is another great teacher and an inspiration to me, and she is very, very, very tough. Racehorse Haynes, a friend of mine that is an amazing attorney, is the same way. Tough as a floor safe. This is the same trait that I always admired in basketball player Larry Bird.
Now, lets get to the point. Stories are the best way to learn and here are two stories from my life that hammer home this point in a way that I feel you can relate to and learn something from.
1- When I moved to the North Texas area to study music at UNT I kept hearing about how mean the head of the percussion department was here at the time. I heard these stories so many times they took on some kind of mythical proportions. Having been around so many of this professors students it was extremely challenging not to buy into their frames of reference for this guy. I knew a drummer, a percussionist, and two steel drummers that related to me vividly animated accounts of intense experiences with this individual.
Well like I always say- I think God has a sense of humor. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been drawn to the sound of the sitar and the tabla. So much so that my Mother would have to pull me away if we were in public and that type of music was playing anywhere. The first time I was recording the track “Lost” at Reeltime Audio in Denton Texas I decided I wanted to have a tabla on the track. The tabla, especially at the time, is a very highly specialized instrument. It’s a unique niche in the music industry and an instrument that takes a lot of time and practice to master. Due to my college town being exactly that- a small college town, the chances of finding a tabla player were even further diminished. I asked around everywhere and couldn’t seem to find anyone. I asked my drummer at the time and here’s where the sense of humor thing surfaced. My drummer said to me that this professor would know somebody that played, but you’d be crazy to call him.
I am crazy and I did call him, and not only did he introduce me to two tabla players, he related to me that he played the tabla himself, and he asked where I was recording at. I told him I was at the studio right now, he said- “Well I’m not doing anything, I’ll come to the studio right now, bring my tabla with me and record it for you myself.” He came down to the studio and did just that. He was professional, courteous, curious about my music and very inspiring to work with. At the end of the short session I tried to compensate him. He wouldn’t accept any form of payment. Thanked me for the opportunity and we went on to become friends.
Moral to the story: What if I would have bought into all the gossip and hearsay about this person? Perhaps I would’ve projected some kind of negative vibe had I done that and went on to manifest it by projecting it myself. I didn’t, and it was a great lesson.
Here is another example:
2- Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen for years has had an ominous reputation for being irascible and vilified by journalists. There used to be this magazine in Dallas/Ft Worth that was a Heavy Metal publication entitled The Harder Beat. In one issue they asked ten journalists to rate, from their experiences, the ten worst interviews of all time. Eight of them picked Yngwie. This got me to thinking, that may have been their reality because they heard the same stories I had and bought into them. Yngwie’s a smart guy and a very passionate individual as well. Don’t you think he could tell if he sat down with someone for an interview and they had a preconceived image of him? I know I could. This is why this is such a fascinating and important subject. The point of power is always in the present moment. People tend to have strong opinions about people who excel at a very high level and that are very unique. I had heard all these stories about Yngwie over the years. Just like before the Gods have a sense of humor and I ended up being introduced to Yngwie several times. Every time it was a pleasant experience, he was funny, genuinely curious, and very engaging.
Try tuning out all the gossip and hearsay you have heard about someone in your social circle. Just make your mind a Tabula Rasa, then go one step further and in your minds eye project this: Everyone I meet is a wonderful, unique person and my interactions with them reflect this in a loving and peaceful way. Don’t say it, just project that energy forward. Let me know the results. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.