Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

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


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As I Began to Love Myself: Charlie Chaplin on his 70th birthday

Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin

As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is AUTHENTICITY.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody as I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it RESPECT.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it MATURITY.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment, so I could be calm. Today I call it SELF-CONFIDENCE.

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A Personal Transparent Update & 2014 plans

Hey Gang!

I have been a little off the internet radar lately, and I must apologize for a lag in posts, emails, youtube videos and all that good stuff.

It has been a VERY busy time for me actually. I will quickly get you up to speed, and I promise to post & blog from the road over the next few months.

Here is the God’s honest transparent news update that I’d give you if you were drinking a coffee with me right now.

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An Amazing and Creepy Coincidence

This is too weird. Enjoy…

When I attended the High School for the Humanities in NYC I was in the graduating class of 1986.

At the time I was a 17 year old aspiring classical guitarist, practicing hard for my first year of college in the conservatory.

A few of my high school teachers were “guitar aficionados” and one in particular, “Mr. S”, encouraged me very much. I’ll never forget when he said “You’ll be the Pepe Romero of the year 2000!” This was incomprehensible to me.

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Commitment vs Flirtation

Hi Gang!  I am back in NYC for a short breather between tours…

On the road recently someone came up to me and said “man, I worked on your version of Superstition for like 5 months and still couldn’t get it perfect.”

My reply was “only 5 months?”

I explained to him that he needs to dive in with a full ongoing commitment and not watch the clock or calendar.

Like this:

I’m gonna play this arrangement no matter how long it takes to learn and practice.  If I can play one note, then I can play two.  I’ll play those 2 until they sound good, then I’ll add note 3.

I’ll do a little every day and it will surely build.  I’ll sand the edges, work on the groove, listen hard, and allow improvements to reveal themselves with time.

I’ll be mindful that my hands feel good and my whole body feels the groove as I play. One day it will sound good.

I’ve been “hammering”  at all my guitar arrangements for the past 6 years – and there’s no end in sight.

The real issue is not about guitar….it’s about “commitment” vs “flirtation”.

I can feel in me when I “flirt”  with something vs when I totally “commit.”

Things like playing chess, fooling around with electric bass or drums – and even figuring out other guitarists riffs – these are fun things that add richness to my life – but it’s flirtation.

Playing slow scales, practicing my arrangements (and now learning easy Bach Preludes on the piano) and 30 minutes a day of meditation  are “commitments”.

Because they are “commitments” I can relax and breathe as I do the work.

I don’t try to practice everything in a day.  I am mindful of relaxation in my hands, neck, shoulders and I don’t “overdo”.  The fact that I plan to spend the rest of my life on this stuff helps me chill out!

(Please note – I am not saying you have to be a pro and spend hours a day.  You can be a hobby player and commit to practicing a piece of music in the way that I am saying.)

Only after a good long period of time do results show.  There’s a sweetness to knowing and feeling that I’ve (you’ve) accomplished just a little something by coming back to it again and again.

The moral of the story is….hobbies are ok, flirtation with stuff is fun and ok – but committing is also ok too.

The opposite of immediate gratification is one of the sweetest satisfactions in life!  Don’t miss out.

Know where you stand – and if there something you early really want, put it in your focus and never look away!  The “out projecting” of your vision will in fact, create the “thing”  or experience in real life.


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How to Kick Butt on Guitar – Creativity Plus Discipline

Being a guitar player is not that different from being an author, photographer, magician or pizza parlor owner.

Huh?

In actuality – it’s only ONE field…we’re all self-employed entrepreneurs getting our creations out into the world, providing value for people, and earning something in return.

As an entrepreneur, you have to self motivate.  It’s the “long haul”  tactics and daily habits that build into something worthwhile, over time.

Short bursts of inspiration can’t build musicianship or a great career, but a little bit of work every day – towards a worthwhile goal, most certainly will.

I just read an article by my one of my favorite information marketers, Fred Gleeck, and he talked about the writing process…this quote rang true to me as a creative musician.

He says…

The one thing I suggest you do is that you MAKE yourself sit down and start writing every day for a given block of time. Writing is an act of creativity AND discipline.

This is exactly the process  I use in regards to practicing guitar… I use “creativity AND discipline.”

You are the CREATOR, not the CONSUMER

As a CONSUMER, and lover of music – when you listen to your favorite musician or band, it’s as if you are getting the most delicious dessert at a fine restaurant, served to you.

Mmmm yummy!

No work is required.  You sit back, hit play and enjoy watching and/or listening.  Easy as pie.

As the CREATOR of that dessert, you will not likely “feel the feelings”  that the consumer feels!

This is precisely the spot where, for example, little kids at music lessons realize they need to practice and “it’s no longer fun.”

The shiny new thing loses it’s luster, you see the errors and really have to polish your work of art.

A Recent Real Life Example

I recently did a stretch of arranging, videotaping and uploading 9 Beatles tunes  to YouTube. Here’s one of them for your enjoyment – “In My Life”

The Discipline:

As the musical “dessert chef”  I spent, on average

  • 2-3 days creating the guitar arrangement & practicing it
  • 1 day video taping & recording
  • Maybe 1 day more recording the video again after “sleeping”  on the problems of the first taping
  • For each of these 5 day projects I have a delicious 3 minutes to present to the world.

The Creative:

Even though it’s “covers”  some serious “creativity” went into choosing this stretch of tunes, before I even picked up the guitar.

  • I felt it was time to inject some new life into my repertoire, and I love hitting the “bullseye”  musically for my audience.
  • Almost everyone loves the Beatles – so it’s as if I am coming “back from the bullseye”  like a Zen archer. (See my C + Y = R post)
  • With a nice set of Beatles songs, I can maybe do a Beatles DVD
  • I can offer to now teach a Beatles class at a guitar workshop
  • Of course I’ll have more GREAT tunes to play on concerts
  • If people like the videos, they’ll share them socially
  • Maybe a Beatles CD is worth doing…
  • I strove to  get GREAT versions of these songs onto the guitar that really convey the music, better than I’d ever heard…

When I saw what I wanted to achieve, I determined that it would be well worth the discipline and time needed to whip these tunes into shape and make videos, upload etc.

Is there “Luck” involved?

It makes me almost want to barf when someone says “oh you are so lucky – you get to do what you love…”

Are you kidding?  I work my tail off and claim it….it ain’t luck!!!

🙂

Hopefully this gives you some “inspiration”  to be disciplined, put the time in daily, and stick to a plan – and achieve your dreams!

Now….git to work!


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The Musician’s Cure to Social Media Madness

THE SCENARIO

This last week, I spent a lot of time online, doing my research, keeping up with  social media, new (to me)  sites like Pinterest.com and Chill.com.

(does this sound familiar?)

Sites like Facebook, twitter and Youtube are helping me reach fans and book gigs…so I wanted to see “what I’ve been missing”  and how I could ramp things up, career wise.

Oh boy…all I did was make myself nuts!

Like many musicians, or managers or “labels”  I’m scratching my (bald) head wondering what’s next, and will the sites I’m signing onto even last?

Some sites will be here to – stay (for a while)  while others will bite the dust like Myspace.

My head started to hurt.

Questions like this plagued me this week (don’t worry – this post will end happy…)

Some of my personal issues:

  • How can anyone hope to compete with a Youtube channel with millions of subscribers?
  • To get more hits & views, must I simply play every crappy cover song I can think of, in incredible voluminous amounts?
  • Will Youtube yank my videos / channel, since I still am doing covers?

then…my personal hell….since I get asked for tabs of my covers constantly…

  • How the hell can so many guitar instructors out there sell tabs with ZERO licenses in place, and I choose to go the high road and get licenses, am I an idiot?
  • Will social media change, because right now I don’t want to know about someone’s cat barfing…so I “shut off” and others do too.
  • Where is it all going?  And am I wasting time trying to figure it out?

The irony is…(drum roll please)

By asking these questions I was simply “creating my world”  and seeing the world as “I am”  not the way it is.

BUSTED. 

What appeared to be “out there”  was “in here.”

This is kind of heavyweight information  when you think about it.

I create my world and you create your world, minute by minute, whether we complain and worry, or whether we rejoice and give thanks!

THE CURE

I picked up the guitar.

I decided to start  learning a new tune….”IMAGINE”  by John Lennon.  It was time to be a musician and not a social media manager for a few hours.

After hours of ironing out an arrangement, I uploaded it to Youtube:

This video was done with NO end result in mind….only “love”  in mind, honest to God.  I wanted my fans to have something nice and soothe them.

I fell completely into the song, the lyrics, the tone of the instrument, Lennon’s voice, intention, and so on.

THE AFTERMATH

As I walked out into the street in NYC after uploading the video and  I felt “all my troubles seem so far away” 🙂

The pain, headache, uncertainty and frustration I was feeling were GONE.

What?

I found myself in a “bliss”  state.

Immersion into music, with no thought of “what I’d get out of it”  is what got me there.

I saw after this that I have the personal power to choose one state or the other.

THAT’S BIG!   Do you get this?

What I previously thought “the world was doing”  was MY creation.

My NEW (forgotten) mantra “I am responsible for 100% of my life.”

THE IRONY

Once I dropped the video onto Youtube, Facebook and Twitter – it was something useful that people wanted to share.

That’s the way to use social media!  (I.E.  that’s the horse before the cart…)

THE MEDIUM IS NOT THE MESSAGE

Social media is a pipeline.

Garbage in, garbage out.

Good meaningful stuff in, good meaningful stuff out.

The lesson….offer something good….really good and everyone wins.


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What You Can Learn from the Joshua Bell Story

There’s an urban legend about a world class violinist named Joshua Bell who played his solo violin concert program of J.S. Bach on a 3.5 million dollar instrument  in the Washington Metro at rush hour.

Riders walked past, no one “listened”  except for snippets – and he earned about 32 bucks.

The writer’s slant on the story is this:

“If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?”

I disagree COMPLETELY with is idea.

Joshua Bell demonstrated an “unsuccessful gig”  in the midst of his “successful gigs”  and showed all musicians that presentation counts – since the music was a “constant” in the equation.  Do’h!!!

  • It’s NOT on the audience to learn how to be appreciative.
  • It’s UP to US musicians to learn how to present ourselves properly.  (Joshua of course knows how – and was doing an experiment.)

Holding the public accountable for “not noticing us” is a victim mentality, and is very disempowering for musicians.

Whether we see ourselves  as concert hall worthy, restaurant gig worthy or street worthy –   we will end up playing places that are in accordance with our beliefs.

We are 100% responsible for our vision of where we want to be  – even if it is not yet manifest.   That starts inside, not outside.

How can I say this utterly blunt stuff?

For years I saw myself as the restaurant guitar guy – which is fine, and not a criticism of anyone playing gigs like that.  My self image kept me there, but I realized I wanted more.

Only when I changed  the self image (not easy)  to being a concert and festival player….life changed around me – as if by magic.

If I did it, you can do it too.

Let me ask you….

  • Have you ever noticed GREAT musicians who seem to be unappreciated?
  • Have you ever seen “bla” musicians who have GREAT performance opportunities?

To the victim this seems really unfair, as if evil is winning over good.

To the empowered musician, it makes 100% perfect sense and  is totally fair.

It’s all obeying the Law of Attraction.

We all create our worlds in accordance with our beliefs.

The Empowered Take Away Idea:

Even if your music is absolutely world class…you now know, from the subway story, that the “public” needs more than your  music alone.

If you want to reach your audience, then this matters too:

  • How You Dress
  • How Your Materials Look
  • Your Punctuality
  • Where You Choose To Play
  • Under What Conditions You Choose To Play

I’m making a new moral of the story:

“If we do not have a moment to think about how we present ourselves and our best musical efforts, how many gig opportunities are we missing?”

I’m not posting this to add to the lump of online “how to get gigs”  articles.

I am posting this because the victim mentality is poisionous to musicians, and the “take 100% responsibility”  mentality is healthy, empowering and leads to greater  happiness.


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As Above, So Below…on the Guitar

One of the joys of my musical journey is to discover something musically and see that it also applies to all of life.

(Really guitar and “life”  are no different – since it’s our brains looking outward and seeing the contents of our own thought!)

I have been doing a lot of slow, deliberate practice on fingerstyle guitar pieces like “Thriller” and “Aqualeros do Brasil”  and “Fly Me To The Moon”  simply because I want the groove to be deeper and want the perfect sparkling and coordinated “mix” of melody, bass and accompaniment.

It never fails; once I put my mind on the role and job of my right hand thumb, I see that it has been pulled by the influence of the other right hand fingers, and is not as solid as I thought it was!

Once I slow my playing down (yes, my teachers were right about the benefits of slow practice)  and the thumb becomes the most important part of my focus, the whole piece of music falls right into line; perfect groove, perfect balance, and comfortable to play.

It made me ponder…when we set the basics in our life straight, and keep them on track, the small details always work out. On the contrary – if we seek to fix details without attention to the basics being right, we’re not really fixing anything…we’re just “busy”.

As above, so below.

Don’t believe me, check it for yourself!


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Perception – Ain’t it a Bitch?

When a bell is struck, it vibrates and then in turn vibrates the air molecules around it.  Waves of air molecules eventually hit one’s eardrum and vibrate the eardrum.

When we hear the sounding bell, we think and perceive the bell as “out there” but the sound is really “in here”.  It’s the eardrums reaction to being hit by the vibrating air molecules.

Isn’t it interesting how we perceive not just sounds – but people, events, smells, sights and all sensations as originating “out there”  when in fact they are inner experiences?

When the line of what’s “out there” and “in here” starts to blur for me it’s actually quite fascinating.  We can change my perception of what’s out there if we want.

Here’s a fun example of how we all have different perceptions of the same “thing” out there.  You may see from this that perception could just be an inner experience.

Today in the Aachen, Germany train station I could not help but notice a very attractive woman…long black hair, (looked freshly blown and straightened from the hair salon), silver hoop earrings,  tight jeans, black boots and a coat with a big furry collar and to boot she had a gorgeous face.  I even got a smile from her.  Hey, what’s not to like?

On board the train, I was asked by a female conductor for my ticket.  I looked up and – oh gosh, it was her!  Huh?

She was an undercover cop, busting riders who thought they’d get away with a free ride on a regional train!

Aha!  If they see an official conductor, that could alert freeloaders to run to the bathroom hideout.  Luckily, I paid for a ticket and got a second chance to flirt.

Off in the distance I heard desperate arguments from riders (one teenage girl rider was almost in tears) followed by my favorite lady cop’s unwavering demands for 50 euro as a penalty.

Talk about a tough cookie!  She was not taking no for an answer.  Her job was to shake people down for money, and she was on the warpath!

In review – someone who boosted my ego and made me feel good today pretty much destroyed a few peoples days and caused them to be upset.

She was the same person all day, but depending on one’s perception, you either liked her or hated her.

Perception – ain’t it a bitch?


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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!