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Artists, You Can Do This!

I’ve noticed in working with so many artists, the contrast in different types of personalities, talent levels, and learning styles.  I worked with a player recently who before even trying an idea, said in so many words, ‘that’s just not done in this genre’.  Says who??  (You know that just makes me want to try it all the more!)

Tom and I find that the artists that remain open and willing, are the ones who will go the furthest.  It’s definitely easier to work with a less experienced artist who hasn’t already developed bad habits or become set in their ways, because we have to spend a lot of time breaking those habits before we can move them forward.

Let me tell you about Kate.  I’ve had the privilege of working with her several times over the years and this last time it struck me how much we accomplished in 2 days, because of the fact she wanted to learn.  She has a new project coming out and wanted me to dig into the songs and help her find the moments.

Kate is a guitar player, so we worked on songs with both acoustic and electric in mind.  (I love using an electric with effects pedals for solo artists…can create some really cool/moody stuff that way.  It’s not just for bands anymore!)  I had her bring a loop pedal she hadn’t used in awhile and we got some pretty cool ways to enhance her songs with it.  (This gave her the option to use BOTH guitars on the same song if she wants to – loop one, then pick up the other to play with the loop)

I got a drum out for her to experiment with (she’d never played one before), that turned out to be the perfect thing for that song – both musically and lyrically.  A great visual as well.  She didn’t say ‘oh I don’t play drums’, or ‘that’s weird, I’m not going to try that’…she said great, lets try it! I’m not saying its right for every artist, and wasn’t totally sure until we tried it that it would be right for her.  The point is, we had to TRY it to see.

Since she’s been performing for years and having worked with me, knows the concepts, she still wanted me to remind her of some of the technical skills we talk about and SHOW her what I meant when I said she needed to chance her stance.  I’d just had a conversation with Tom the day before, where we talked about teaching/learning conceptually verses technically…in other words, this is the ‘what and why’ vs. the ‘how and when’.  Some people can translate a concept and apply it, and others need to be shown exactly how to do that.

Conceptually, Kate knew she needed to connect with people in the audience, but she wanted to know how (technically) to remind herself not to close her eyes, and how to make eye contact in the right way, so we spent time working on that as well.

Kate learns a lot because she’s hungry for the knowledge…she’s like that with other areas of her life and takes measures to better herself and learn.  And she gets standing ovations.  A LOT.  (Check her out at www.kateschutt.com)

We had lots of hungry artists at our recent workshop for singer/songwriters…some that have already been to 1, 2 and even 3 events before.  They told us they want to hear it again, and some things didn’t click until this workshop!  Some have bettered their shows just by reading the book, and some needed to see us visually working with another artist.  Many of course learn best with a one-on-one session.  The point is to never stop learning and growing as an artist.

Take in the knowledge, spend the time and effort if you want to make a living doing music.  The payoff is huge!

Amy Wolter

As a trained Live Music Producer for Tom Jackson Productions, Amy Wolter brings her years onstage as a lead singer & keyboardist - along with her experience as a producer, arranger, and songwriter - to singers and bands who won’t settle for ‘good enough’. She’s worked with artists at all levels, and genres ranging from Rock to Celtic, empowering them to have confidence and authority onstage, and put on memorable live shows, a few of whom have been on two of the largest US tours in recent history. Some of her clients include Grammy award winners The Band Perry & Lacrae, CMA and ACM –winning country acts, Gloriana & Thompson Square, 2016 The Voice contestant Mary Sarah, CCMA (Canada) winners High Valley, Jess Moskaluke & Chad Brownlee, and Winter Jam Tour veterans Sidewalk Prophets & Love and The Outcome.

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Greenroom Comments

  1. Just like when you were first learning to play or sing, it’s a process. I’ve been in the business for over 20 years, and I’m STILL learning stuff (mostly from Tom, and Co.). Thanks, Amy for reminding us old-timers to keep an open mind.

  2. Great article! So timely, I was just talking with a friend at lunch hours ago about working one on one with Tom (or associates )!!!! The Producer can be pretty timely with these things! Time to follow up now….

    • Thanks Adam! And just say the word and Tom or I can either come to you, or you come to us. It can be career-changing for sure – this stuff really works. That’s why we love what we do!!

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