stevelawson.net

Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



Entries Tagged as 'Kidderminster College Stuff'

Tips for Music Students

September 27th, 2018 · 1 Comment

beyond bass camp picture

Serious about studying music? Here’s some tips. Take or leave them as you find them useful. Your college years are both very limited and very expensive. Don’t waste them:

  • Take extensive notes on everything, (but maybe try and work out a system for sorting through them)
  • Record every time you play – video if possible. Review it, learn from it, put the best bits online if that feels useful to you.
  • Collaborate as much as possible – stepping outside your comfort zone can be an amazing learning experience.
  • Get your course work done early – focus on the learning outcomes and marking criteria, hit all of those, then think about the things that your own practice needs to get out of the module.
  • Learn how to write essays – google for advice, there are tons of great articles giving tips on this.
  • Ask questions – never let any teacher make you feel bad about needing more information.
  • Keep a blog
  • If you play an electric instrument, get a headphone amp, carry it with you.
  • Go to gigs – big and small. Support your local scene, get to know who runs the venues and books the shows.
  • Play live as often as possible – gigs, open mics, jam sessions – get out and play.
  • Spend as much time in the studio as possible. If your college has a studio, book any spare time you can in there.
  • Start recording at home, and work on measurable week to week improvement. if all you’ve got to record on is your phone, get better at positioning it in relation to your instrument to get the best sounds you can. Learning to maximise the possible quality of lo-tech recordings will pay MASSIVE dividends down the line.
  • Watch as many tutorials about how to work in the studio as you can.
  • Invest in your music life. Booze and cigarettes are not an investment in your music life. Records, gear, strings, gig tickets, travel to go and play with new people are.
  • Listen to at least one new album (released in the last two years) a week.
  • History matters more than nostalgia – use YouTube to fill in the history of your instrument – look up at least three new-to-you important players a week. It really is the greatest learning resource humanity has yet invented, if only all that genius content wasn’t hidden behind towering mountains of bullshit.
  • Read books. Lots and lots of books. Use the college library, find out about journal access through your course. 
  • Monitor your social media time, but work on your online presence as an artist/professional.
  • Spend precisely no time worrying about music you don’t like. Learn what you need to learn for the course, but cultivate your relationship with the music you’re passionate about. Keep your ears open to new sounds – weird doesn’t necessarily mean bad, often it means unfamiliar…
  • Remember, your peers are not competition, they’re comrades. Learn from everyone, be generous in sharing your own learning. Swap skills with everyone, trade lessons for guitar repairs, studio time for web skills.

Tags: Kidderminster College Stuff · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Being a Good Citizen Of The Internet: What Would The Internet Be Like If Everyone Behaved Like Me?

October 9th, 2013 · 2 Comments

This was another one of the blog themes I gave my social media students last week. They tackled it in various ways, but I’d like to expand on where the question comes from.

The root of it is the conversation about ‘marketing’ and ‘promotion’. Ever since MySpace, musicians have been looking for ingenious ways to increase their audience without actually doing any of the tried and tested pre-web stuff (actually making amazing music, doing gigs, contacting media outlets in the hope that they’ll recognise the brilliance of your work and write about you or play you on the radio, Encouraging your existing fans to talk about what you do).

photo by timag on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

As ever, the ‘race to the bottom’ led to a whole new kind of musician spam – blanket messages sent to every Myspace (now Facebook) friend, multiple postings on other people’s pages, imploring friends and strangers to ‘check out my amazing new video on YouTube’ and perhaps the most insidious of all, networks of musicians making a pact to promote each others work, regardless of quality or the degree to which the sharer is actually interested in the shared work. (I’ve written a lot about the nonsense of this kind of reciprocity). [Read more →]

Tags: Kidderminster College Stuff · New Music Strategies

Guilty Pleasures – Why Do We Listen to the Things We Listen To?

October 7th, 2013 · 3 Comments

Here’s another of the blog topics I set for my College students – we got onto the topic of ‘guilty pleasures’ in class, so I asked them to write about it.

What do we mean by guilty pleasures? Guilty of what? enjoying it? of not acquiescing to the groupthink of our particular subculture? Of not knowing what ‘serious’ music fans ought to listen to? Are we guilty because we know its wrong, or because we’re concerned about getting caught?

All of those – admittedly trivial – concerns miss a much bigger question, about WHY we listen to music. Much as we’d love to see ourselves as objective connoisseurs of musical worth, there are way to many factors at play to make any sense of ‘transgressive listening’ remotely meaningful in relation to the music as opposed to the sub-culture. [Read more →]

Tags: Kidderminster College Stuff

Reconsidering Charts – Listening vs Shopping

October 6th, 2013 · 1 Comment

One of the first social networks I ever joined was Last.fm – back in the pre-corporate buy-out days, it was an amazing way to connect with music listeners, to find people with similar taste, and through them discover some amazing music.

What was most revolutionary about it at the time, at least for me, was that it was a website that created ‘charts’ based on listening, not on shopping. So you had a record of the music that was soundtracking your life, rather than just the latest things to tempt you to part with cash. [Read more →]

Tags: Kidderminster College Stuff · New Music Strategies

Who Is Your Audience?

September 30th, 2013 · 2 Comments

As some of you know, I’ve recently started teaching in the music department at Kidderminster College. It’s a fabulous opportunity, as I get to spend every tuesday working with bassists (and a violinist!) in the mornings and on social media with a load of mainly singer/songwriters in the afternoon. Yeah, two of my favourite things, in one day. Lucky me!

So last week, I set the afternoon students the task of thinking – and blogging – about who their social media audience is:

  • Who do you know reads what you write?
  • Who do you imagine is reading it when you write it (who are writing to)
  • Who else may end up reading it?
  • Who would you most like to have reading it?
  • How do these considerations affect how and what you post (be it original words/pictures/video/music or shared stuff from around the web)

[Read more →]

Tags: Kidderminster College Stuff · New Music Strategies