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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How To Create Info Products from the Heart (and a Guitar DVD Update..)

I recently read an article by a buddy of mine named Rob Cubbon.  He describes the state of mind & spirit he was in while creating a few of his e-books in his post “My Rules of Product Creation.

While creating his first one, he was stressed and it felt like rolling a rock uphill.  In contrast, the second one just “happened”  by itself.  Oddly – the second one which was infused with joy and ease is also preferred by his readers and sells better.

I’ve had the same thing happen when I record CDs under stress, so I know full well what he was describing.

I was starting to feel a similar process regarding the upcoming Guitar Instructional DVD which I plan to shoot later this summer.

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How a Digital Diet Can Make You a Happier Person

HI Gang!

For those of you who are tech junkies, I’d like to tell of my journey on “the other side.”

The following negative experience had a very profoundly positive effect on my music and concentration.

On March 7, 2013 I was robbed while on tour. My backpack with my laptop and many other personal items was suddenly gone.

2 hours before a concert I had to freeze bank accounts, close credit cards and change passwords to 15 websites in a flash, because like an idiot I had no master password on the machine.  The stress was terrible!

Yet…the strangest thing happened about 10 days after the theft.

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Rhythm, Pitch and Your Musical Soul

I was thinking about something someone once told me.

“Pitch is Rhythm.”

Huh?

When I sing or play a note, it does not sound like a beat.

When I play a beat it does not sound like a note.

But in actuality – they are the same thing.  Let’s take a look at this…

An “A 440”  is simply a very fast rhythm.  Scientifically speaking we are hearing a wave at 440 cycles per second.

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The Day I Got My Butt Kicked in Harlem

He showed up for his first music lesson with the master, with his saxophone case in hand.

As they chatted for the first time, he told the teacher “I think I am one of the best sax players in town.”

The teacher answered “It would be nice if someone else thought that as well.”

=-=-=-

That’s a true story that one of my teachers, Mike Longo told me.  It just goes to show, that when we are in our own little world, we think we’re pretty good.

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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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What’s More Important – Musical Essence or Technical Perfection?

Here’s a peek into my mind as to how I craft something musically for solo guitar.

I recently arranged the Beatles “Michelle” for solo fingerstyle guitar  and while I feel it could be way better ‘technically’….it looks like people are digging it, from the comments.  (thanks Youtubers!)

It is very far from perfect – but it feels good!  There’s a different “perfection” in the good feeling I am talking about.

I am not tooting my own horn, please understand!  I  am talking about the overall sound and feeling of the piece, and I wouldn’t have posted online  it unless it had that “little piece of magic.”

Of course, guitarists will ask me for sheet music, because they want to learn the arrangement, and that’s all fine and good….it’s very good!!!

But there’s a secret as to where the answer lies.  To get the sound of the song….well, it ain’t on paper!

It’s not in the chords, or where I put my fingers.

First, I listened closely to the original Beatles version for the songs “essence”…the life, the personality and gut feeling for this musical “entity”  called “Michelle.”

Inside, I am singing the song…and every note, bump scrape, slap and mistake I make – has to aligned with the “Michelle” essence.  I had to “become” the song…and wait patiently until the fingers tell the story.

(Further proof that life is an “projecting”  outwards of our inner vision! )

Actually I don’t even see what I am doing as an “arrangement” …I’m just trying to sing you the song – with my fingers.

It’s the same thing as when a painter steps back from the canvas and takes the whole thing in.  It’s almost like you have to look with fuzzy blurry vision, rather than obsess on the “perfect shadow cast by the cherubs little finger.”

Get it?

In regards to “essence vs technique”….

  • Essence wins – with the “people” –  They can hear the SONG!
  • Technique wins in school.  You get a good grade, and then reality strikes!

Gut, intuition and exploration are the tools needed!

Wow…it only took me 37 years to figure this out – that something  imperfect can have a deeper perfection ….when we see (or hear) it in terms of the big picture.

Rock on!


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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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How to Improve Your Guitar Sound – Mentally!

The other night while sound checking for a gig at the Vienna Mozarthaus, I found soundcheck to be very easy.  Then I found the gig to be very relaxed and easy.

It’s not always been like this.  What did I do right?

I’ve had nights where I’ve fought the guitar, overpowered it, beat it into submission and make it do what I want it to do, even if I am drowned in sweat.

Why was it easy 2 nights ago?  Hey maybe after 5 years of heavy touring – I’m finally learning something!

This may sound trite – but it’s quite profound:  I offered no “resistance” to what I was hearing.  I didn’t allow a “mental concept”  to disagree with “what was happening in the moment.”

This meant not worrying about what anyone thought, not feeling that I was “required”  to do a tune I wasn’t in the mood for, and also meant not “planning the next tune”  during the current tune.

It meant “being present.”

My warm up was groovy and easy going.  I didn’t flex all my chops back stage but got playing in a groove so I could dance along, like a well greased machine. Almost as you’d expect a tennis player to warm up.

The “sound”  on the gig was perfect….I simply worked with what I had and listened closely, at each moment and accepted what I heard.  The more I listened and allowed, the better the sound got.

Maybe it’s no coincidence that I meditated 30 minutes in the afternoon.  My daily meditation sometimes gets thrown off when I travel a lot.  But, after seeing how it affected my last gig, I am determined to stay on it for the rest of the tour.

Tuning my mind to pay attention to “what’s in front of me” (i.e. the present moment), rather wanting “something else” gave me peace.  No energy was wasted in “pushing against” the present moment.  I could hear and feel the difference.

30 minutes of silence…try it, you’ll like it!


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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!