Graduation is not the end of learning. School is not the only education system.
“If you have haters, you’re doing something right.”
This is something I often hear from other creators. It’s like when Banksy apparently said, “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
If you’re making something great (which often takes risks), some people will inevitably find something they don’t like about it.
Yes, there are musicians who are better than you, I don’t care who you are.
Mariah Carey would probably say there are better singers than her.
Jimi Hendrix probably thought there were better guitarists than him.
John Bonham surely respected other drummers and tried to learn from them.
So can you. And so can I.
For the past year or so, I’ve been making music with friends who are way better than me at their instruments. They make me want to get better.
And that’s what I need — a drive to become a better musician.
I don’t want to be complacent. It’s easy to get too comfortable with my skill level.
It’s like the gap that Ira Glass talks about — the gap between where we are and where we want to be. And how that gap makes us get better.
“It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions,” Glass says. “…It’s going to take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
So for your own good, hang out with musicians who are better than you.
If you’re looking to keep your creative gene working, check out Austin Kleon’s little book Steal Like An Artist. It’s one of my favorites. I’ve read it like a dozen times.
Fergie recently performed the National Anthem at the opening of the NBA All-Star Game. And it was uncomfortable to listen to.
But there’s something musicians can learn from this incident.
In the video above, you can see Chance The Rapper, Jimmy Kimmel, and an assortment of basketball players either laughing or trying not to laugh.
The internet had a field day with Fergie and tore her apart.
Legendary basketball player Charles Barkley said he needed a cigarette after her performance.
Fergie apparently noticed the uproar and responded.
“I’ve always been honored and proud to perform the national anthem and last night I wanted to try something special for the NBA,” she said. “I’m a risk taker artistically, but clearly this rendition didn’t strike the intended tone. I love this country and honestly tried my best.”
And that’s what musicians should take from this whole thing.
“I wanted to try something special…”
“I’m a risk taker artistically…”
Don’t be scared to try something new. Don’t fear taking risks.
Yeah, it may not always work out. But sometimes, you can get something really great if you step outside the box. We should all be more like Fergie in this way.
As the street artist Banksy once said, “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
And middle-of-the-road art doesn’t bother anyone.
So go disturb some people with your art and you may just comfort the people who really need it.