Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy


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Do You Have New Years Resolutions? Consider This…

We all make New Year’s plans and resolutions – plans on how to “work hard” to “get what’s out there.”  I’m offering you a different angle on that idea….

I recently picked up a copy of Deepak Chopra’s book “The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire” and just finished it on a plane ride to Europe.  What’s not to like about a title like that?

“The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire” is an excellent book.  Deepak is a dedicated meditator and I felt that the book pulled me into the peaceful, mystical, “boundless” place that he writes from.   I am thankful to feel very chilled out right now.  I needed that!

I admit, I sometimes fall prey to the state of “wanting more”,  and I work every day at finding peace and gratitude for what I’ve got.  I always come back to finding that my joy, peace and creativity comes from being spiritually centered.

“Wanting more” is in fact the cause of pain and restlessness itself.   There is a cure though.  Once we are thankful for what we have and enjoy a feeling of peace within,  more comes rushing into our lives. That’s the irony!

I read something in the book that resonated with me, a message I much needed to hear as I gathered ideas about “achieving goals in 2012”, and I’d like to share it with you.

“Suppose a hunter in the Amazon rain forest is having difficulty finding game.  If he goes to a Shaman, neither the hunter nor Shaman looks anywhere but within the hunter himself to solve the problem.”

“It never occurs to them to say something like ‘There’s no game out there’. ”

Happy New Year, and may all your good find you in 2012!


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Passing Inspiration Forward

For a few years I have practiced outside my NYC apartment in the building hallway.  I do this to get away from my laptop and also enjoy natural reverb!

Moments ago, I heard little guitar strings getting plucked outside my door by someone else.

I sensed that I was being summoned, so I opened my door to see who it was.

A little boy named Matthew (age 7) got a mini guitar for Christmas.

His family lives 2 apartments down the hall…he’d been inspired by hearing me play out there.

I asked him if he liked Michael Jackson, and his face lit up. “I love Michael Jackson!”

I asked them to wait one moment at my door.  I came back out with a gift in hand.  I handed him & his mom an “I REMEMBER MICHAEL” CD.

“WOW!!!”

As I gave inspiration to this little guy, I was reminded that this is what it’s REALLY all about – passing inspiration forward.


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How to Sell Your Music Without Selling Your Soul – Part 1

(This is written especially for college level music students, young musicians considering a career in music and recent music conservatory grads…but also anyone else in the music or arts.)

Many musicians and artists treat “selling” like a nasty disgusting word.  They feel that “selling”  means “selling out”  and I am here to say – that is not the case.  I say – selling music is cool, hip and fun!

Selling is the very oldest profession in the world despite what you may have heard otherwise.  It is very noble.  Without a sale of some sort, nothing moves.

In all areas of life, whether it’s the invention of smartphones, computers, restaurants, movies, hardware, clothing, housing, toys, you name it – the sale of something is the essential fuel to keep all of it going.

The sales person is the link that makes it all possible so that creativity and innovation can in fact, continue.

So, if you want to be the best in your field,  you will need to sell something and selling your music is the surest way for you to stay involved with your music.

Even J.S. Bach sold his musical skills. He had point by point contracts with the towns in which he lived, and constantly re-negotiated financial improvements to his current deals.  He was a master composer and salesperson!

Like many musicians I used  to think “I am not a salesperson, I am a musician and I shouldn’t have to do this crappy work!”

I’d then be very upset when I had to “sell” because there was a clash with my self concept (“I’m a musician”) and my actions (“I am selling, but I shouldn’t have to deal with selling.”).

I think that many musicians share this “glitch” in their mental-emotional wiring.

Most music schools don’t tell you the following, but should:

  • When you get out of school, the only way you will survive is by selling something, be it music or otherwise.
  • If you work at a music school as a teacher or office person you are selling your time and expertise.
  • If you work anywhere you are selling your time and skills.
  • If you play a gig you are selling your skills and providing the venue, promoter and audience with something valuable.
  • If you have a recording studio you are selling time, use of equipment and skills.
  • If you are not selling your music, then you may have to sell your soul because you will have to sell something.

So doesn’t it seem like the science and psychology of selling should be addressed?  Funny that it’s not.  It’s a taboo topic like porn or something.

School gives you the “what to sell” but not the “how to sell.”  Your musical chops won’t sell themselves all the time.

Your words, dress appearance but most of all, your MIND – help you sell your musical skills, products and expertise. Getting good at selling means you don’t have to sell your soul and it insures that you can spend your future as a creative musician.  That’s what Bach did!

Selling is a skill like any other.  Pro sales people rehearse, strategize and think.  Amateur sales people “wing it” and get spotty results.

If you are not interested in selling, I say get interested now, because either you’ll be selling your music or you’ll be selling something else….maybe your time working for someone else with a vision stronger than yours!

The main lesson here for you is to have the “shift” inside yourself to know that selling is ok, it’s noble, it’s necessary.  This is the beginning of the “inner game”, which must occur before the outer game of “selling combat” can begin.

To pay your rent and eat – you will need to sell something.  Tell me, what will you sell?


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Gear Outside, Tone Inside

I get a lot of questions about my guitar “tone” in my videos.

Ok, yes it has improved since I first started posting videos.  But, this brings to mind a very valuable music lesson I once had from my mentor which I’d like share with you.

Nerd speak for one sentence:  For this video I use a Maton guitar, a fresh set of uncoated phosphor bronze strings, 2 RODE mics and a DI, into Garage band.  (For more detailed CD type recording my setup varies slightly.)

I recorded this song about 25 times in my home studio the day prior as practice.

I searched, listened, and allowed magic to pop up, I discarded ideas that did not work, and I voiced the same chords “umpteen” ways until I found just the “right” way.

This was not an analytical process….it was intuitive, creative and gut level.  Right and left brain had to work together to realize the overall sound I wanted.

During the practice session I had a myriad of tones, dynamics, grooves, tempos…

Each practice recording sounded totally different from the next in color and timbre.  Of course there were technical things that I worked on, but it was all in the service of the sound.

When one practices a performance or crafts an arrangement it requires searching for “just the right sound.”  The small changes made over time are like the low flame that turns a pot of chopped vegetables and water into a “savory soup”.

This “savory soup” does not come only from a Maton guitar, a fresh set of uncoated phosphor bronze strings, 2 RODE mics and a DI, into Garage band.  It comes from listening and undergoing the process I have described.

Looking back, I can remember 20 years ago asking my mentor about the sound of my guitar.  At the time I was trying to decide  whether “flat wound” or “round wound”  guitar strings had a better tone.

He told me “the tone you seek is inside.”   20 years later I see what he meant!

Until next time….Enjoy!