Tag Archives: musician

Why It’s Never Too Late To Learn How To Play An Instrument

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Why It’s Never Too Late To Learn How To Play An Instrument

“I should have learned to play the guitar, should’ve learned to play them drums”, so sang Dire Straits in 1985. While a total lack of musical knowledge or awareness hasn’t been an impediment to many people working in the music industry today, many of us regret either not having learned or abandoning the learning of a musical instrument. Today, we’ll look at why it’s never too late to pick up an instrument, the pedagogic and psychological benefits, as well as looking over some great instruments for neophyte musicians. Learning a musical instrument is more than just a fun hobby, it’s a valuable skill that has numerous cerebral benefits as well as being a cool trick to bust out a parties!

It’s literally never too late:

Virtually everyone benefits from some sort of creative outlet and while we’re all just sort of expected to find the right one in our teens or early twenties, many of us don’t find the right mode of self-expression until they get into middle or even old age. There are few subsets of people for whom the dexterity and mental faculties to play an instrument are prohibitive. If, for example, your arthritic hands make playing the guitar or piano problematic you may benefit just as much from learning the harmonica or the panpipes.

Getting over the learning curve:

The landfills are littered with guitars that were discarded because their owners deemed it “too hard”. Most of them were impatient children or teenagers (We all knew someone at school who quit their guitar lessons because they didn’t become a virtuoso within a month.). As an adult, you may surprise yourself with how well you navigate the learning curve. While your older mind may be set in its ways, you will have learned the value in persistence elsewhere in life.

For most instruments, unlocking the fundamentals is a huge step in smoothing out the steep learning curve. In guitar playing, for example, much of your musical vocabulary is formed by mastering the ‘barre chords’ – moveable chords. When one has the measure of these, they can play any minor or major chord from a good root position. It takes time to master, but it unlocks so much of the instrument’s potential when you do. When this obstacle is hurdled, a player has the inside scoop in learning to cover their favorite music and even learning to write their own.

Cerebral and psychological benefits:

When playing (or even listening) to music, multiple areas of the brain become active. Musicians may look calm and composed but there are firework displays in their neurons. Processing music is actually an incredibly complex mental process, giving our brains a great workout that most of the time we’re not even aware of. It keeps our brains young and aids cognitive dexterity.

Finding the right instrument:

Hopefully, you’ve been moved to consider taking up a musical instrument, but you may wonder which are the best or most accessible ‘starter instruments’. String instruments such as guitar, violin, piano, cello, and bass are fairly accessible for new learners, as are the flute and clarinet. The saxophone presents a slightly steeper learning curve but it’s so ubiquitous in so many forms of music, that learning to master it opens up a lot of doors.

There’s no such thing as the wrong instrument. Even learning an instrument that you don’t stick with tends to be a gateway to learning more. And isn’t it always fun to try new things?!

Featured Image By: Pixabay

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Moving Past Open Mics With Your Indie Band

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Moving Past Open Mics With Your Indie Band

Sure, there are people out there who are going to tell you that now is the time to be a musician for the simple fact that there are more avenues than ever to explore. But just because there are a lot more ways to get heard does not mean that it is easier. In fact, being an indie band now is probably harder than ever before for the simple fact that there are so many options. Playing yet another gig at yet another tavern hidden way off the beaten track, the kind of place that makes you pay for your own water is not exactly a great way of making it. Don’t believe us, just look at your band’s communal wallet.

However, just because you’re broke and living at your bass player’s mom’s house does not mean that you should give up the dream. That is because you can still make it and live out your dream of touring some far-off country where fans chant your name in their adorable local accents. It is just about following the rules and knowing how to maximize your chances.

Of course, telling you that and then skipping town would hardly be rock n’ roll of us. So, to help you start living the dream and escape your bass player’s mom’s house (No offense, Barbara.), we have pulled together a list of insider tips and tricks. Check it out:

  1. Get To Know Your Fans Like The Back of Your Hand:

Pennies are short and, for some reason, no record labels seem to hang around open mic night’s held in Big Dave’s Garage (lol.). Basically, there is no sign of an advance floating your way just yet, which means your fans are your biggest financial life jacket. That is why you need to make sure that you are giving your fans something for their loyalty and love. Get to know the names of those guys and girls that are always in the front row. Give your fans a way of listening to exclusive music or interviews by creating a band website and then sharing this sort of content there. Share video recordings of acoustic sessions and behind the scenes banter on your social media pages and make sure that you are replying to any comments or messages that float your way. We used the life jacket analogy for a reason because, in the same way, you need to inflate your life jacket by blowing air into it, you need to give your fans something in return for being so awesome.

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 Party over hereeee!

  1. Play Your Strengths As Well As Your Guitar:

Every band has their own strengths, so make sure that you are aware of what yours are and then play to them in every way possible. Just being great songwriters with above average talent and the technical know-how when it comes to uploading your music onto Soundcloud, Youtube, Spotify or whatever else isn’t enough. You need to find other ways to shove your musical abilities into the realms of greatness, and that requires a little bit of magic (aka creativity). If you’re a band that offers more stage presence than the lovechild of Katy Perry and Bruno Mars, then try and play as many live gigs as possible, and maybe even consider getting a residency somewhere. Not only will you get paid, but you will see your star start to rise as more and more people see you. It could be that your sense of humor is your secret weapon, in which case document this and share it, get interviews with niche magazines and little radio stations, and then let this personality of yours show in your music videos. OK Go became famous for their viral worthy music videos, which means that it is totally possible to emulate this approach to success.

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 A cool band name is a must!

  1. Grab People By The Eyes And Ears:

Having a sound that people recognize is one of the most important factors when it comes to carving out some Top Of The Pops like success. But so is having the right visual branding, too. That is why it is worth spending a little bit of time and money (Presumably borrowed from your parents. Barbara, we’re looking at you.) on a graphic designer. This branding of yours is going to be stamped across all of your promotional material – Facebook page profile pictures, website homepage, Instagram, flyers, album covers, t-shirts, USB drives, and pub mic-night posters – and will help establish your place in the industry. Think about some of the greatest and most famous bands to ever walk the boards of the biggest venues. The Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters, Run DMC, Daft Punk. All of these legends created a visual identity so powerful that just their shadows would halt you in your tracks. Basically, get your branding right and you’ll have people want to sport your promotional products, whether t-shirts or posters, and that will spread the good word faster than the flu.

  1. Forget All About A Record Deal. Period.

No one from a record deal is going to turn up at one of your small gigs – or your bass player’s mom’s house (No offense, Barbara.) and hand you the golden ticket that is a record deal. That just isn’t going to happen, nor should you want that to happen. The hard work is there to be enjoyed, used in your music, and make you successful. Most importantly, though, you need to understand that no record label has a secret recipe that guarantees success. They just don’t. Instead, they pick up talent based on their independent success; so they will pick you up based on your independent success. That is what you want. You want to use this as a bargaining chip should the day ever come where labels start to notice you instead of getting snapped up early and dropped or, worse, hung out to dry. Concentrate on what you are doing, focus on your trade and doing your own thing; that is what will lead to success – not trying to chase the money and the labels.

Being in a band is cool. Finding success in something you love is cooler. Prepare for a lot of hard work and with just a little bit of luck, you won’t be crashing on Barbara’s couch for much longer.

Featured Image By: Pexels

Making It In Music: From Covering Songs To Writing Them

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Making It In Music: From Covering Songs To Writing Them

If you love to play music, you probably started out playing covers of songs, whether you took part in lessons or got into the world of musicianship on a self-taught basis. Of course, if you find yourself wanting something more and you’re ready to start creating original tracks, then it can be hard to take the plunge in terms of putting pen to paper. While there are no ‘rules’ in terms of writing music, as creativity can’t be forced, there are ways in which you can hone in on your talents and start to create something original. Here are some pieces of advice to help you make a mark in the music world as a songwriter rather than a cover artist:

Understand the recording and production process:

When it comes to creating your own songs, writing something with a catchy melody and meaningful lyrics is only one part of the equation. In fact, being a musician with a beautiful singing voice and instrumental talent who performs well is also only a small part of the equation. You need to understand the recording and production process involved with creating music if you want your original tracks to really make their mark on listeners, and this involves more than simply turning on a mic and pressing ‘record’.

You need to ensure that the quality of the instruments being used and everything involved with the song has been honed to perfection, as it’s easy to capture every sound in a live environment, but not quite so much in a recorded environment. You might want to look into sites such as Box Tiger Music for help with choosing guitars or pianos based on reviews. It’s important that you strive to sound as good, if not better, than the top musicians in the industry before you’re anywhere near that status. That’s how you make it.

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He’s a babe! Shwing!

Jam:

Perhaps you understand the technicalities of music, but you just don’t feel creative or professional. While many big labels in the industry are full of songwriters and producers who have spent years learning how to create hit songs through observing what works, many musicians with a deep passion for the art of creating music want to ‘make it’ in a more organic way. If you’re much the same, then writing a catchy song which starts to turn heads and brings you attention in the music industry shouldn’t ever become a mechanical process. Instead of thinking about the simplistic chord progressions behind the biggest hits in history, you should just start jamming and see what happens.

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Pexels Image

We all have the power to be creative. Whether you’re in a band or operating on a solo basis, just hit ‘record’, start messing around with your guitar, piano, voice, or whichever instrument you play, and see what happens. When you listen back to your five or ten minute jamming session later, you’ll likely hate a lot of it. However, there’s every chance that you’ll hear a gem in the form of a musical nugget which will really inspire you to form a fully-fledged song out of what was originally nothing more than a small riff or chord progression. Play around and see what happens, super star!

Featured Image By: Pexels

John Patrick Halling

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John Patrick Halling

Hellooo everyone and welcome to a very special article on lifewithlilred about an extremely talented artist that I had the pleasure of getting to know, Kent, Ohio blues musician, John Patrick Halling. I was lucky enough to sit down for a chat with John Patrick about his most recent tour, his performance style, and some of the corniest jokes you’ll ever hear in your life.

Those who frequent my page will know that I have literally no talent for music. I can’t sing, I can’t play any instruments other than three songs on the guitar, and I also have cried during every concert I’ve ever attended – but that’s neither here nor there. What I’m getting at is that I LOVE talking with musicians because they are skilled at something that I wish I could do. John Patrick was no exception. He was humble and genuine with the quick wit of a seasoned performer. Take a look at part of the interview conducted by yours truly and listen along to the songs we discuss on his website.

Our chat began with some rapid fire questions about John’s most recent two month musical excursion, his Boy in the Water US tour, so let’s get to it:

  • Lil Red: What was your favorite place you traveled to?
  • John Patrick Halling: Well I’m from Kansas City, so playing there was a lot of fun. I loved Asheville, North Carolina which was a cool little hippie city, and Boulder, Colorado too.
  • LR: What was your favorite tourist activity you did?
  • JPH: I liked trying all of the different foods and craft beers, sight seeing, and hiking! I hiked ten to twelve national parks. For two weeks of my travels I hiked from Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon.
  • LR: Favorite restaurant?
  • JPH: Oh, what was it’s name? The Mellow Mushroom. It was in the south. It was wood fired pizzas, there was a lot of vegan and vegetarian options, and a bunch of stuff on the walls…Not in the TGIFridays or Applebee’s way, in the cool way. The Mexican food in New Mexico and Arizona was also out of this world. (So jealous, mama loves Mexican food!)
  • LR: Favorite venue?
  • JPH: It was called the Purple Fiddle in Thomas, West Virginia. This place was cool because it had a hostel built into the venue where the performers could stay as well as a crowd that was pretty much built in too from all of the tourists and locals.
  • LR: Where would you like to go again?
  • JPH: Everywhere! Wyoming was beautiful and it was filled with the nicest people – they were exactly how you would picture people from Wyoming to be, in the best way possible. I am bummed that I didn’t make it out west, though.
  • LR: How many shows did you play?
  • JPH: Around thirty…I played to a few empty coffee shops. I also performed at open mics and found a few good places on the streets where I would set up shop and play. Pearl Street in Boulder was great for that and so was San Antonio and Asheville.
  • LR: How many miles did you travel?
  • JPH: I traveled 12,000 miles in two months. But 2,000 of those miles was probably me driving around not knowing where I was going. My GPS system broke down halfway through the trip so I had to buy a road map, which was actually hard to find. I had to map out my routes and rough it and if all else failed, I still had my phone! Being on the road is a glamorous thing.

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^^^ Pictured above: John striking a pose in the Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming as well as a scenic pic he snapped while driving into Kansas City.

After having a spitfire session about the Boy in the Water tour, John and I moved on to discussing his music, his style, and his future plans for his career. Please don’t think that I use the word spitfire lightly, either. All of the questions above were asked and answered in a little over five minutes. Everyone tells me that I’m a very fast talker and I met my match with John Patrick! Turn his music up and let’s move on:

  • LR: Where did the title for your album Boy in the Water come from? Are you part merman?
  • JPH: Well now the secrets out! I tried a lot of different titles but they were all basic and boring. My cousins and I are big fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and in one of the opening scenes Elizabeth is standing on a boat and she sees Will Turner flailing in the ocean and she says “there’s a boy in the water”. So the album title is a tip of my cap to my family as well as whatever metaphorical symbolism it might mean.
  • LR: What was the first song you learned on the guitar?
  • JPH: “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream and some Lynyrd Skynyrd songs. Since we’re sitting in a Starbucks, I like my coffee how I like my Eric Clapton greatest hits albums, with a little bit of Cream in it!
  • LR: I was a fan of your Hawthorne Heights reference in “If I Would’ve Known”, who are some of your musical influences?
  • JPH: Everything. Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Hendrix. I grew up on 90’s country. I had a Rasta phase in high school where I listened to a lot of Bob Marley. I had my punk phase where I played a bunch of Blink, Simple Plan, and Green Day.
  • LR: Your lyrics are very poetic, have you always liked to write or was that a talent you didn’t know you had?
  • JPH: A little bit of both. I loved history and English classes which involved a lot of writing. I was also always a performer because I’m the middle child who was always striving for attention! I was very into theater in high school and played in quite a few different bands so I think all of these things helped develop my writing style.
  • LR: I thought it was interesting how in “Siren Song” you portrayed the devil as a woman. Is that based on a particular situation?
  • JPH: Kind of, but it also goes back to mythology in general when mermaids would sing their siren songs to tempt men. Women have always been men’s number one vice, asides from beer and cigarettes. But I also feel like I lose myself in relationships very easily. I try to change myself for the person and make myself into what they want me to be instead of finding someone who accepts me for my vices…If that makes sense.
  • LR: It makes perfect sense. Because I have a lot of fashion bloggers tuning in, how would you describe your look when you’re playing a show?
  • JPH: I wear whatever doesn’t smell. No, I’m a big hat guy, I have three or four wide brimmed Brixtons and Stetsons that I love. I also wear a lot of boots. You’ll never see me in shorts though, I’m always in jeans…I woke up like this.
  • LR: You should be a comedian if your music career falls through.
  • JPH: I actually love telling jokes on stage. Why does Peter Pan always fly? Because he never lands. That joke never gets old. It’s got a good hook to it.
  • LR: So where do you see John Patrick Halling one year from now?
  • JPH: Hopefully on the road again. I’d like to start recording a new album in January or February and be out on another tour by August. I have about ten to fifteen songs to narrow down so I’m still deciding on if it will be an album or an EP.
  • LR: And finally, does the drinking ever end in downtown Kent?
  • JPH: Not when you’re drinking with your friends!

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^^^ Pictured above: Sporting a signature hat in Asheville, North Carolina and a view of the picturesque Arches National Park in Utah. (Can we just talk about how the sky in both pictures looks like something out of a story book? So amazing.)

Are you a fan of John Patrick Halling? You can reach out to him by:

  • Liking his page on Facebook
  • Following him on Twitter
  • Following him on Instagram
  • Emailing him at: johnpatrickhalling@yahoo.com

You can also listen to the album Boy in the Water on all of the following mediums:

I really can’t begin to tell you guys how much I enjoyed my time with the fantastic John Patrick Halling. The pleasure was truly all mine and I can’t wait to see him perform in the near future! Do you have any questions for John Patrick? What is your favorite song off of his album Boy in the Water? I wanna hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Woman Crush Wednesday: Christina Aguilera Edition

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Christina Aguilera Edition

Hellooo everyone and welcome to a new issue of Woman Crush Wednesday – Christina Aguilera style! It’s been awhile since we’ve had a #WCW article since I straight up couldn’t think of anymore BUT after a girl power singing session to XTina in the Little Red Love Machine yesterday, I was inspired to give her a shout out! Let’s discuss:

Dear Christina Aguilera,

Oh, Christina you tiny little songstress – I just adore you! I forgot just how much I enjoyed your music until I was singing along to all of your songs in my whip (lolol) yesterday. I didn’t sound half as great as you though, so don’t worry about me stealing the pop star throne anytime soon. ANYWAYS, I had a really difficult time picking out what song I was going to choose to honor you with and in the end I just had to go with “Fighter”. A little known Lil Red Fun Fact is that “Fighter” is on my top ten list of favorite songs on the planet. Nothing makes me feel more empowered, nothing gets me more hyped, and nothing makes me feel better after a struggle than this song. And please, PLEASE don’t even get me started on the music video – it’s such a classic.

I think you are drop dead gorgeous and I can’t get over that big beautiful voice you have in that tiny little body! I felt so sad when you were getting ridiculed for weight gain (yay, pop culture) and thought you handled all of the negativity and backlash with such poise and grace. And believe me, no matter what size you are you look fabulous to me! Your amazing vocal talent is something that I envy so much and I just love everything that you do from your Dirrty XTina past to your days as Miss Diva on The Voice. You are one in a million and I LOVE YOU!!!!

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^^^ Omg. SHE’S SO PRETTY!!!!

So there you have it, this week’s Woman Crush Wednesday: Christina Aguilera Edition! Who is your favorite female pop vocalist? Who is your #WCW this week? I wanna hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Monday Update: Look Out Edition

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Monday Update: Look Out Edition

Howdy everyone and happy Monday! I hope all of you had a fantastic Halloween weekend, I sure did! You know why I had a great weekend? Because for the most part I did absolutely nothing for the first time in weeks and it was AWESOME! Now that I’m all relaxed and ready to go, I’m here to bring you the Monday Update for the week so you guys can be on the Look Out for some exciting posts coming up in the near future!

Trades Of Hope: I had the pleasure of sitting down with one of my dear friends, Sarah White, to chat about the company that she works for, Trades Of Hope. TOH employs female artisans in third world countries and pays them a fair living wage for the creation of their beautiful accessories, home decor, and beauty items. On Tuesday, you can tune into http://www.lifewithlilred.com for the full article and the link to Sarah’s site where she’ll be hosting a TOH party for the next few weeks. When you make purchases through the party you have the opportunity to win free or discounted items and I strongly urge you to take advantage of it because everything is gorgeous! I was gifted with the Kala Necklace from Sarah and I’m obsessed! Take a look:

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My necklace was made by artisans in India and I love it so much! Once again, I’ll be posting the article this Tuesday and the links for the party will be provided in the post!

John Patrick Halling: This past Thursday I was so excited to sit down and chat with an extremely talented musician fresh out of Kent, Ohio, John Patrick Halling. John Patrick is a blues/folk/country hybrid artist and he is simply fantastic. During our meeting we chatted about everything from his most recent tour (the Boy in the Water US tour), his style on stage, and what influences him as an artist and musician. Everything during our get together was just swell, until…..

Until I made the biggest fool of myself of all time!! When I meet with new clients, our talks usually happen interview style and I record everything on a Word document on my laptop. Basically, they talk and I type. John Patrick and I chatted for a solid thirty-five to forty minutes and once I had everything I needed, I told him he was good to go. We packed up our belongings and I said something along the lines of “let me save and exit” the document. Unfortunately, a classic case of “I shouldn’t have clicked that” happened because instead of saving and exiting, I accidentally just clicked exit. It was one of those things where you do what you were saying because you were saying it and since I had “exit” on my mind and tongue, it just kind of happened…It. Was. AWFUL.

Thankfully, John Patrick was SO nice about it and I was able to recall almost everything we talked about from memory. I stayed at the Starbucks we met at after he left and retyped everything and ended up with more than I started with. As soon as I got home, I got a draft of the article ready to go and the only things that needed corrected were the brand name of a hat, the location of a venue that he played a show at, and the name of a city. Since those were the only things that didn’t ring true, I’d say I did pretty well!

I’m so happy that the article is looking good so far but you guys have no idea how embarrassing it was! My best friend, Lea, and I have discussed how difficult it is to think of a moment that was truly cringe worthy but I think I found it with that unfortunate incident. But fear not! The article is almost done and is set to publish mid-November when John Patrick releases his music video for “If I Would’ve Known”. Until then, you can check out his music at: http://johnpatrickhalling.com/#/ and make sure you give his Facebook page a like at: https://www.facebook.com/JPHallingMusic/?fref=ts ! Seriously guys, make sure you give his music a listen because it really is wonderful and stay tuned for the article on Mister Halling which will be coming out soon!

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^^^ My life.

So there you have it, this week’s Monday Update: Look Out Edition! I’m so excited to share these upcoming posts with you and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did working on them! How was everyone’s Halloween weekend? What did you do to celebrate? I wanna hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Man Crush Monday: Unknown Edition

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Man Crush Monday: Unknown Edition

Hellloooo everyone and welcome to the newest edition of Man Crush Monday or lack thereof because I don’t have one! After countless weeks of swooning over a handsome male celebrity each Monday, I’ve finally run out. The well has run dry and I can no longer think of a #MCM for the week…and #WCW for that matter. So now I need your help! Who are some of your #MCMs? What male actor, musician, artist, or model do you have the hots for right now? I wanna hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah