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A Trip to the Woodshed!

Ever hear the term “woodshedding” when a musician talks about needing some intense practice? (You jazzers may have heard it as ‘sheddin!)

According to some urban dictionaries, the phrase comes from a woodshed being the place where you “sharpen your axe.”

I just spent time in Toronto at Canadian Music Week and heard plenty of artists who had spent time in the woodshed… there’s a lot of talent up there, and I love to hear the music that happens at this event every year.

But there’s more to woodshedding than just getting the music right, if you want to make a career out of music, and if you want to make fans with your live show!

Musically, we know we’ve got to practice our instrument, our singing, our technique, our phrasing, etc. We want it to be the best we can get it to be. So we head to the woodshed, so to speak, and work on our music over and over until we get it right.

But along with working on the musical woodshedding, you need to spend time on the visual delivery of your music. There are fundamentals I teach for onstage performance that need to be practiced over and over again, long before you get to rehearsal. You need to get comfortable with these fundamentals on your own time… and sad to say – most artists don’t do it.

Here’s how you can do it: first, learn the onstage fundamentals and how to do them correctly (and not just how to do them, but why to do them – but that’s another blog!). Come to a Bootcamp, get the All Roads DVD set, join us Backstage – all 3 of those will help you learn.

Then repeat those fundamentals over and over until they become second nature. Eventually you’ll begin to start feeling the music, at which point you will start to develop a unique style (not just musically, but visually as well) of your own. You’ll find your visual “voice” and it will be uniquely yours!

Right now in the US, we’re in the middle of March Madness college basketball tournaments. When you see the athletes competing, it becomes very obvious which ones have spent time woodshedding their fundamentals. You hear stories all the time about kids who carry a basketball everywhere they go. In school they’re dribbling down the hallway, trying not to run into other students. They stay out all hours of the night shooting baskets in their driveway. I’ve even heard of young athletes who took a basketball to bed with them. That’s how important it was to them.

So how important is it to you to make a career with a killer live show? How much are you willing to invest?

It takes more than just hearing and reading about the fundamentals. You need to get into the woodshed with those fundamentals and do the repetitive work it takes to feel comfortable with them and develop the muscle memory necessary to keep you from “thinking about” what you’re doing, instead of just doing it!


Tom Jackson

Tom is uniquely talented and skilled at transforming an artist's live show into a magical experience for the audience; helping artists at every level create a live show that is engaging and memorable, teaching them to exceed their audiences' expectations and to create fans for life. Tom has taught indie and major artists of every genre. He has worked with Taylor Swift, Le Crae, Home Free, The Tenors, Shawn Mendes, The Band Perry, Francesca Battistelli, Jars of Clay, & many more. Tom also teaches at colleges, conferences and events worldwide.

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