The DIY Musician – Why You & Captain Marvel Have A Lot In Common!!

Captain-marvel

I love space.

Anything to do with it, really.

Which is why, when any film comes out that deals with space, my gravity-bound butt will be in a seat watching it! Lol

Yesterday, my family and I saw “Captain Marvel“. Great film! Powerful superhero! Lots of Marvel backstory explanations!

Perhaps most impressive though, is that the hero discovers what needs to be done, then decides to do it… all by herself.

The DIY musician takes on the same mission every day. We might not be saving worlds or lives like Carol Danvers, but our adversaries are also strong and relentless:

  • Apathy
  • Confusion
  • Uncertainty
  • Indulgence
  • Scarcity
  • Distraction
  • Inadequacy
  • Lack

It takes superhero courage and skill to conquer those things that stand in opposition to our craft. To our success. To our legacy.

But there are many advantages to be gained. If we, like Captain Marvel, pick up the gauntlet and rise to the challenge, we will ‘save the world’ in a myriad of musical ways.

Let’s see how… !

You Try More

First off, when you’re in a certain industry, it’s very beneficial for you to become acquainted with all the instruments and tools that are made for your career field.

Especially in music, no one can possibly play or know them all. There’re thousands!!

But we can keep our ear to the ground, and our eyes open… perusing the catalogs, scanning the stage gear, reading the music blogs (not-so-subtle plug!) and always being ready to apply the latest technologies to our private disciplines.

In the new Captain Marvel film, our hero discovers a VERY powerful piece of tech, that shall have profound ramifications for ALL superheroes soon enough.

Does she run from it? Does she destroy it? No. She places it where she thinks it shall be put to best use.

When was the last time you tried some new gear? And I don’t just mean a new model something you already have; I’m talking a piece of hardware, or software, that you’ve never tried before?!

Putting yourself out on a limb with something new can be daunting, but it’s also extremely exciting!! Plus, it could usher in a whole new chapter of skill development that you never knew you’d even be interested in.

So no matter how long you’ve been doing music, always stay open to the latest developments. It’s never too late to take out a new skill, and if you’re going the DIY route, you have to wear a lot of hats.

So try ’em on. Know your options. Know what’s out there.

Chances are, you’ll look super stylish!! 😉

You Buy More

The right tool for the job.

There’s a reason why that phrase is so ubiquitous. Ever try to complete a project with materials and tools that were second-rate? Or even not have them at all??

Not only can it take four times the effort and time, it often means the project never gets finished at all.

There’s a scene in “Captain Marvel” where she “buys” some materials necessary for her to construct a communications device.

Well, at least she gets them from a store, I’ll leave it at that. Lol

Over the decades of being a professional musician, I’ve seen first-hand how the right tool can launch you to higher heights.

A dependable, well-intonated guitar.

A keyboard synth with a broad range of patches, both old and new.

Recording software, that not only makes everything sound better, but makes everything more efficient to boot.

A microphone that makes your voice sound the most amazing!

All of these things, and many more, are products that upped my game, helped me reach many musical goals, and continue to help me reach professional sounding mixes again and again.

So never hesitate to buy what you need to reach a goal.

Waynes World guitar

If money is short, buy things used on Craigslist or eBay.

Or do what I did in the 90s: go work for a music store where you can buy everything at cost. That one decision alone saved me thousands of dollars on audio gear, and is the biggest reason why I was able to put out my first album.

In the end, the DIY musician does whatever it takes to get the right tools for the job. Our reputation is carved in sound, and that sound is only as good as its weakest transducer.

So buy more! But buy well. Better to have one excellent piece of gear, than three mediocre ones. It’ll cost more, but will always be worth it.

Oh, and if you currently have no idea WHAT to buy to get your music out to the world, check out THIS HOME STUDIO POST that explains it all. It’s so easy these days, every musician should do it!

You Know More

guitar behind the curtain

No one understands your music better than you.

But it’s also true that you haven’t yet discovered all that you are capable of.

The more time and effort we invest in music, the farther back an interesting curtain is pulled…

  • Self-realization
  • Personal style
  • Preferred techniques
  • The deeper meaning you ultimately want your art to express.

In following what she feels made to be, Captain Marvel uncovers surprising things about herself. Her inner amalgam of hunches, memories and historical facts give her insight that no other human has. Just like us… she’s unique in vision, and skill.

While avoiding spoilers, I’ll simply say she knows more about her true self when the movie ends, because she was relentless about pursuing “the right thing to do” in light of what she discerned by “trusting her gut”.

Let Your True Self Out!

It’s only when we pursue our craft and our passions relentlessly that we truly know the full scope of who we are.

You Practice More

Any musician who has ever played live knows that, when you have an upcoming gig, you practice more and practice better.

Drummer Brad Giaimo

… or you’re going to suck.

I mean, come on – you’re going to be up in front of a lot of people playing your instrument, and you’re either going to do it justice…

I think we all know which is preferable. 😉

Captain Marvel doesn’t have a full understanding of her powers in this film; she doesn’t know for sure if she can defeat an enemy alone.

But she practices. A LOT. And not in a mamby-pamby way either… she goes FULL BORE in her space ‘dojo’ against other soldiers.

It’s ’cause she knows what’s at stake.

But she also has an inkling, a subtle feeling, that there is more in her than even she has ever seen.

Then, later in the film, having discovered that something important needs to be done, she sets out to do it, trusting that her training is enough for the task at hand.

The do-it-yourself musician has goals, not excuses: she takes on gigs. He puts out singles. She creates soundtracks. He scores music for hire contracts. She writes another hit!

Avis try harder ad

The Avis Rent-A-Car company became famous in the 60s for their “We Try Harder” commercials. The ad campaign was so successful, it continued all the way up to 2012!!

People respect, and are inspired by, those whose work ethic is clearly above the norm. That’s why we all gather round to watch the Olympics. We know what it took to get there.

With superhero stamina, a successful DIY musician sets out on the plan of action they’ve devised, and doesn’t stop until that mission is complete.

So keep practicing. Keep training. And play out. Record in. Send up your social media fireworks showing how hard you’re working.

And don’t stop simply… trying harder!

You Produce More

With rare exception, here’s another thing I’ve discovered about producing music by yourself: you can actually get a finished product out faster when others are not in the equation!

When I think back on all the times that I let others mix my products, one thing becomes clear: too often, in the time it took for me to explain what I wanted, I could already have done it myself.

Mixing music

Now that I am trained in tracking, mixing, and even mastering recently, I no longer have to wait for anybody. My product launch is totally in my hands. I now have everything it takes to put out song, after song, after song.

And wouldn’t you know it – that’s exactly what I’m doing!

These are exciting days for me, ‘cuz I’m finally seeing a lot of musical dreams come to fruition. The biggest reason?? I’m producing it myself, exactly the way I want it, and not being stuck in “standby” due to others holding me back.

This may be the biggest endorsement for being a DIY musician. I’m so glad I didn’t limit myself by listening to that voice that said “But there’s so many others better than you at that!”

Even Captain Marvel in her film ends up accomplishing more, in a short time, that hundreds of others have tried to accomplish over many years.

Why? Because she said, “I can do this.”

Why shouldn’t you say the same? 😉

You Master More

Everyone has a breakthrough point.

You never know when it will be, or why, but when it happens… you know it!

Captain Marvel has an obvious, thrilling breakthrough moment in her first film, where, because of the things she has mastered previously, she discovers a whole new level of precision and power.

As a DIY musician, you can definitely experience the same. As you tenaciously work towards your personal best, you WILL have moments were you realize you have achieved new levels of proficiency, and become a “master” at certain skills.

Yes!! I mastered the Locrian Scale!!!

It’s a great feeling, and one that I personally hope to repeat many times over!

It can happen for many reasons, but interestingly… they don’t always have to be happy ones.

Great example: when I had finished tracking my second album, I handed it over to a few people to mix. At that time, I had not really studied mixing, and thus had no confidence I could do it myself.

Years passed. My album still was not done. Grrrr….

Trying to get everyone’s schedules to match was one issue.

Availability was another, since I couldn’t pay full studio price.

A three-hour + driving time was another issue.

Frustrated musician breaks her guitar!

Finally I’d had enough. I was so frustrated, I could’ve smashed a guitar.

Well, okay… not really. But still… Lol

It was DIY time. I started to study books, videos and websites to get my head around how to successfully mix an album.

It took a good year and a half before I felt ready, but I dove in head-first at that point. I tested my skills on an album that eventually was released onto all the streaming music platforms. After repeated listening, I’m still very pleased and proud of the end product.

The lesson? If it’s related to your art, you should look into it. Try it. You may end up mastering, or at least being proficient in, a further skill that can really widen your horizons.

Beatles_and_George_Martin_in_studio_1966

Beatles producer George Martin once couldn’t play music?? Yup.

Remember: every legendary producer, engineer or artist at one time… had no CLUE how to do what they would end up being famous for!

But they gave it a shot, and became a master.

So don’t sell yourself short; stop reminding yourself of what you CAN’T do. Keep expanding your art and your skill set.

One of those could very well make you a household name!

You Learn More

With each new elevation in your skill, status, understanding and discernment, an interesting and surprising twist arises…

… you learn how much you still have to learn!

In this day and age of ever-expanding scientific research, we are more and more coming to grips with the infinite possibilities latent in every object, every moment, every thought.

From pre-birth gene editing, to quantum super positioning and Quantum computing, to 3D printing of human organs and tissues, accomplishments once thought outlandish are now becoming commonplace.

Quantum discoveries

Yet even in the light of these incredible advancements, we see further and greater shadows – things we have never understood because we hadn’t even considered them as possibilities!!

I’ve played guitar for over 30 years now, and no matter how much I practice, I STILL see so many areas in which I could improve, expand, or develop whole new techniques with the right amount of dedication and woodshedding.

practice that guitar!

Even after years of discipline and training, Captain Marvel found the same. The movie unpacks all the many things she hadn’t had a clue about, and what she decides to do in light of that knowledge.

It’s not always easy knowing what path to commit to, with so many opportunities around us these days.

But if we take a cue from our superhero friend, we’ll apply ourselves to the most pressing matters… that matter most, and learn whatever is necessary to complete what’s unfinished.

And every lesson learned? It’s just one more way the world is made a better place.

You Teach More

I’ve been teaching music privately for decades now.

It started innocently enough: people saw me play live and soon they were starting to ask if I taught any of the instruments. Not seeing a reason to say no, I said “Sure!”

And you know how it is with us musicians: we always need more music gear! So it was a good way to bring in some extra cash to invest back into my craft.

Over the years teaching has become more than that first impulse. Now it’s a way for me to empower youth, and to paint a realistic depiction of the music industry to those attracted to its glittering promises.

Doing it yourself in the music industry means you have a lot of knowledge to impart. You’ve “Been there, done that,” so you can help guide the uninitiated.

Hopefully, that means they can avoid some of the pitfalls you’ve falling into, as well as take your advice as to the wisest and most efficient roads to musical success.

Although you won’t see it this time, there’s a young girl named Monica Rambeau in the latest Captain Marvel film who, according to the comic books, follows in her friend’s footsteps and becomes a superhero herself.

Superhero girl

Supposedly her name will be “Photon” a.k.a “Pulsar“. We’ll see if the movie franchise ever picks up on that, but since Monica’s in a movie… there’s a good chance it’ll expand into her story too.

How much you wanna bet that her good friend Captain Marvel had a part to play in “Photon”-s transformation?!

If you’ve never thought of it before, consider teaching what you know to others. Not only is it a secondary source of income, it’s also very inspirational.

Until you’ve experienced it for yourself, trust me that it’s a great feeling to see a student of yours go from being inept at an instrument to playing out publicly in a group with great success.

Now that’s creating the future!!

Go Save Your World!

It takes a lot of determination and stick-to-it-iveness to be a DIY musician.

But just like achieving superhero status, the pluses more than make up for the difficulties.

Have you been a DIY musician? What lessons have you learned? Would you recommend it as a viable route for others? Would you teach what you’ve learned to others considering that path??

Let us know in the Comments. More than ever these days, you can accomplish SO much all by yourself that can go on to be acclaimed the world over.

Not bad for some that just have a computer, some software and a mic!

Yup. It’s a great time to be alive and singin’! 😉

Now, go… make… sounds!!

Teaj

Teaj in the storm fields!
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