Monthly Archives: August 2014

Revisiting the word NO

Just the other morning I had to sit my two teen daughters down to explain a word they seldom hear around our home. In fact, they so rarely hear it that when my wife or I dare utter it, they think the world has come to an end.

During my 22 minute, uh, lecture, I couldn’t help thinking that I was really the one to blame for our family having having to pause to revisit this very important word. In fact, when I was growing up, my mother repeated this word so often that when she answered otherwise, I would immediately ask again, just to make sure she had heard what she said!

Additionally, I also surmised that I do the same thing in my businesses, church and other organizations with which I am affiliated. As a chronic ‘people pleaser,’ not wanting to disappoint or make people feel rejected or hurt or any other misapplied descriptions, I’ve often sacrificed what was best for my family, project or myself in order to engage in the less important whims of making someone else feel a little better.

Often, in my reasoning to never miss a ‘great opportunity’ I’ve ruined what would’ve been best for everyone involved…my not participating at all! Equally important, lacking the ability to pronounce this simple word when I clearly knew I should’ve, is the very reason why certain musical projects remain incomplete.

It’s such a simple word. When I have mustered the courage to whisper it, my fears of rejection or the complete breakdown of relationships proved mostly unfounded and I was able to concentrate on what actually mattered to accomplish the best results personally and professionally.

So there needs to be extreme reevaluation of a tiny word so neglected, which when appropriately implemented can bring peace to a home and heart and cause your teen daughters (or business or church) to understand that your final decision is not because you’re angry or mean, but that you’re committed to living the best life you can even when it means you’ll be unable to accommodate their requests. More often than not, it’s best for all concerned, especially your children.

I was listening to Bobby McFerren’s “Spirityouall” while composing this post.

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Change From Within

Recently I was asked a question as a result of this blog about how a Worship Leader, just entering into a new church, would be able to grow and adjust the traditional music program to a newer, more modern model.

I have had some experience in being a ‘church musician’. Beginning in my early teens at Union Baptist Church in Youngstown Ohio, I played drums under the pastorate of Rev. John H. Maiden, during the era of my godfather, the late, great Melvin Catley, who was organist and choir director. During my late teens, I toured all of Ohio and through most of the south with gospel quartet, The Gospel Flames. In my late 20’s and early 30’s I became backup drummer for New Bethel Baptist in Youngstown, under the pastorate of the late Rev. Lonnie Simon. His brilliant daughter, Janet Write continues to provide excellence to all of the choirs as keyboardist and director, as well as lending her genius to all SounDoctrine projects (past, present & future) along with her brilliant daughters, Tara Amil and Michaela Write, my incredible Marketing Director.

While I have not personally been THE Worship Leader or Choir Director, I have taken enough notes that the answer I gave and now present below definitely follows proper protocol for any new musician entering into the church world with fresh ideas about how things should sound. Lord knows during my formative years, all of us musicians were trying everything we knew to flip, bake, fry and outperform what we thought were ‘outdated’ norms. And the practice continues…

As always, the first point of entry toward growing a church’s music program (if that is your responsibility) begins and ends with your pastor – or bishop’s – vision for that particular church. If you are not directly responsible for the style of genre of music for your church, you must begin working directly with the Music Director or Praise & Worship leader. If you are the #1 person in charge, then make an appointment with the Pastor to begin the process of introducing new musical concepts to him or her.

In most cases, change in church usually is a slow process, especially in a large congregations where musical diversity varies – but it can be done far more quickly if your pastor shares the same burden in his/her heart. Suggest introducing one new song every other month or so in your set list to get the congregation used to the new music and to learn the lyrics – you want to engage them – and then you can add the next song and the next in accordance with the pace of acceptance and feedback.

While some churches have adopted multiple services, with one holding traditional music services and the other more contemporary flavor, this method, in my humble opinion breeds disunity in the very place where ‘oneness’ is a core essential.

I suggest providing a set list that honors a traditional hymn and then inserting a ‘throwback’ to an earlier gospel staple with a slightly new twist. Since ‘Praise & Worship’ is absolutely vogue in churches across the US, creating space for various forms of Reggae, World and Hip Hop beats allow your entire congregation to engage in the flow across demographics. Explaining these concepts to your pastor, while allowing them to set the atmosphere for worship is an excellent way to begin.

Tell Me How it Works Out!

I was listening to the masterful “Jasmine” by Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden. My New Favorite CD, I can’t seem to eject from the player….

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I’ve only touched upon this very topic the week before last, but something happened Wednesday Evening, while working with my co-producer and engineer that bears somewhat of a reprise.

We were in the studio remixing a tune I had released in 2002, I’ve changed it from a vocal performance to a funk jazz piece with prominent piano. I wanted Him to hear the original version for a reference, but didn’t have the CD. So I fired up my iPad and hit the net, searched for ‘SounDoctrine – Keep Movin’ and immediately noted more than 100 different sites that either housed the song in its entirety, in 30 second increments, or referenced the track in some way.

Yes, the larger Musician portion of me was flattered that the tune had made an imprint and was readily accessible to a very large international audience (there were many French and Asian links). But my Entrepreneur began to question if my royalty statements governing this tune were factual and correct. How would I ever know? Should I just be grateful for this exposure and shut up? My mortgage and utilities are paid. But, Is there a better way to keep track of future royalties? Should I limit the availability of future releases to more manageable online distribution networks or is this jus the way things will be forever?

Certainly, if these sites, most of whom I never heard of, have my music uploaded on their servers, I should at least KNOW about them and be PAID accordingly…right?

I randomly clicked through the lesser known pages and on to the MP3 players and each of them worked just fine. Shutting down Napster didn’t do a doggone thing. It’s completely wide open now and has been since the two Shawns did their thing!

So my fellow EntreMusicians, Whaddaya Think? Write, Produce and Record a Song. Hire the best Musicians, Vocalists and Engineers. Upload the tune on iTunes and Elsewhere and Kiss Your Control Goodbye? Or Do You Purchase Your Own Compatible Server and Become the Only Online Store where Your Product is Purchased?

Tell Me How You Really Feel?

I am listening to Derrick Hodge’s “Live Today” while constructing and posting today’s post.

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A major area where I’ve fumbled the ball as an EntreMusician were those occasions when I lacked clarity. Whether in defining, explaining or processing a goal, being obsessively thorough (some refer to this biologically) really does matter most.

Naturally a “Big Picture” thinker, I’ve needed to surround myself with teammates who are extremely literal and intricate toward every detail of the project at hand. They’ve taught me that visualizing, planning and massaging every component, especially the tiny ones is the correct path toward greatness. Although I’ve yet to perfect this, I am practicing daily.

Specifying every aspect of your vision also provides a means of eliminating disillusionment. When you are able to face your challenges long before they manifest, you’re already ahead of the game. Details, Analysis & Strategy before the Performance, Recording Session or Video Shoot are just as important, if not more so, than rehearsing, wardrobe, lighting and who will mix your new single…well, that mix better be ‘The Bomb!’

I wasn’t listening to any music while posting today, but was taking direction from my youngest daughter, Ayana Symone, who turned 14 today. She didn’t like the photo of her I posted on FB and ordered it deleted immediately. She promptly sent me an approved pic. Divas….

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