Sunday, August 22, 2010

Music Career Tips Learned from Ludwig Van Beethoven's Life

One of the greatest musician who ever lived in this planet is Ludwig Van Beethoven. He is also my most favourite composer. His works are considered as the one of the finest in classical music, his masterpiece like Symphony #9, Moonlight Sonata, Fur Elise, just to name a few, still shines in the modern world of music and even in film (countless of Beethoven works are used in movies).

This is to say, he is not only a great musician by skill and works but as “success” is concerned, no other musician reach this level of success except Beethoven.

If you have read and understand Beethoven life, it is not as smooth as it seems to be. Your life now may be more enjoyable, alive, beautiful, loving, fulfilling and peaceful than Beethoven's life.

I purposely dedicated this short article to all those independent and committed musicians who are experiencing difficulties in their life in either both personal and financial aspect.

The following are one of Beethoven's greatest life challenges (which he faced bravely yet still succeed in becoming one of the greatest musicians who ever lived):

1.) He started composing at age of 15 to 20's. But his sense of hearing starts to degrade at his early twenties.
2.) He is completely deaf by the age of 40.
3.) Beethoven has no lifelong compassionate partner to share with his music. No documentation exists that Beethoven is a married guy.
4.) Beethoven life is mostly solitary.
5.) Beethoven takes care of his brothers after their parents died.
6.) At age 17 or 18, he is now responsible of his two other brothers after her mother died and his father succumb to alcoholism.
7.) His father beat him when he was a child and even forced him to play piano.
8.) When he is completely deaf, he cannot hear piano notes, instead tap his legs to the piano to feel the vibrations in order to get a feel of the low notes.
9.) Beethoven became broke when he spend his entire savings to cure his brothers illness.
10.) Beethoven failed to secure a concert which otherwise would have earned him a lot of money.
11.) Girls he like turned him down and does not accept him as a lover because he is just a commoner.
12.) Beethoven planned to end his career by a suicide because of his inability to hear.

However, he survived:

1.) Beethoven greatest work is Symphony #9 which was written when he was completely deaf. He just play all the notes in his head.
2.) He does not commit suicide because he thinks he love music more than his illness so he move on to write his greatest works.
3.) He express of all his sadness and happiness in his music, that makes his music expressive.
4.) He love what he was forced to do, this is acceptance. When he was child, he was forced to play piano by his father, yet Beethoven never abandoned piano and even became a great pianist.
5.) He observed techniques from great composers like Mozart. Mozart is extremely popular in his time. But Beethoven never stops innovating and he ends up getting more attention than other composers in his time after a hundred of years later.
6.) Beethoven wrote only 9 symphonies. Mozart and Bach wrote more than a hundred. It is because Beethoven is a perfectionist and rewrite his piece a lot of times until it sounds “perfect”. This also made a difference a hundred of years later. His symphonies are also considered to be the finest.

Most important lesson: Do not let life problems, situations, weaknesses or even people opinion influences you to stop creating and innovating great music.

My most favorite Beethoven piece:
a.) Beethoven Symphony #9 in D Minor, Op.125, Choral 3. Adagio Molto E Cantabile
b.) Beethoven Symphony #9 in D Minor, Op.125, Choral 4. Presto
c.) Beethoven Symphony #9 in D Minor, Op.125, Choral 2. Molto Vivace
d.) Moonlight Sonata 1st and 3rd movement.
e.) Fur Elise
f.) Symphony Number 4 and 5.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Best Microphone for Home studio, Professional and Personal Practice

If you are singer-songwriter, it is a strong requirement you should have your own microphone. You will be using this microphone for home studio recording (if you are fond of recording your songs in a computer with your guitar tracks and vocals), professional performance and personal practice.

It is important to take note that since you own this microphone, you should protect it from any damage. This means it is ok to be greedy to your friends, brothers and sisters if you are having this “personal” and high quality microphone. The primary reason is that these type of electronic equipments are very fragile and will be easily damage due to mishandling or misuse. A single drop of the microphone to the floor can render it useless. So make sure that once you have this microphone, take care of it and use it for your own self.

But what is the best microphone for you? There are different types of microphones with varying prices (from extremely cheap to extremely expensive) to varying applications (very specific to general).

If you are a singer-songwriter, the best type of microphone will fit the following requirements:

1.) A Dynamic microphone – a detailed explanation can be found in this article: (Best Microphone for Vocal Recording)

This is the most common type microphone. And does not need any external power. Once you plug it to your sound system, you can immediately sing.

2.) Great frequency response – this is why you should buy a more expensive type of micrphones, they are capable of replicating your voice as accurate as possible without introducing any artifacts or audio biases.

3.) Includes the microphone pack – to save some money and more convenient for you, it is much better you will buy a complete micrphone package. This package should include at least:

a. The microphone

b. A Windscreen
- helps to make your vocal as clear as possible.
c. Microphone Stand – very important if your recording and performing

d. Lo-z Cable – these depends on the length , but this cable should be long enough in order to carry your microphone to some performing stage where the amplifiers location could be far.

Final Recommendation: Based on my experience, the best dynamic microphone that fits the above criteria is Shure SM58 Classic Mic Pack:


Another type of great Shure microphone is Shure C606N Vocal Mic with 1/4 Connector, which is 5 times as cheaper as SM 58. This is a perfect entry level microphone for professional and personal use. Although, SM 58 is more an industry standard and has much better quality though its more expensive than C606N. It all now depends on your budget.


Buying your first singer-songwriter guitar: Recommendation , tips and guide

One of the most important requirement of becoming a singer-songwriter is the ability to play and sing with the guitar. If you are still young, and you have not a guitar for your own self. This is a short guide that will help you select the best guitar for your singer-songwriter career.

First: It is recommended that you will buy a full size guitar. Although if you are still very young (below 15 years old for example), your parents, teachers and friends might recommend you buying a junior size guitar which is smaller than a full size guitar.

Although this might seem practical in terms of cost and convenience (they are cheaper than full size guitar and smaller to fit your small hands) it is not good if you will be using gutiar for a long term.

It is because, it you are practicing junior sized guitars what will happen is that you hands will get used to smaller frets and sizes. Once you get older and will be using a full sized guitar, you hands needs to re-adjust with the full size guitar which makes it very inconvenient for you to play while you sing.

It again takes time for your hands to get acquainted with full size guitar. So the best recommendation for beginners like you is to buy a full size guitar. This will make your small hands adjust right away to the full size fret boards which makes it very easy for you to adapt once you get older.

Second: Buy steel strings not nylon strings. Nylon strings often called classical guitar is not appropriate for a modern singer-songwriter it is because the sound is designed for classical and folk work.

If you noticed modern singer-songwriters, they are using steel based string guitars such as John Mayer, David Cook, etc. Steel strings sounds more trendy so make sure you are going to buy a a steel string based guitar.

For those nylon-classical based guitar fans , you might asked this question: “When will I buy a nylon based guitar?”. The best answer is that if you are planning to pursue a career as a classical guitarist instead of becoming a singer-songwriter. If not, then it is best to buy a steel string based acoustic guitars.

Third: Buy only acoustic guitars. You might be tempted to buy an electric guitar, but this is appropriate again for singer-songwriter work. Electric guitar works best if you are a guitarist of a certain band (e.g a lead guitarist or a rock guitar soloist). Make sure the one you buy are acoustic guitars which does not need any amplifers or sophisticated electronics in order to make it sound.

Fourth: Budget, since you are not yet reached the status of a legendary singer-songwriter like Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, etc. You need to limit your budget in buying acoustic guitar. Of course, you buy a more expensive one, once your career flourished.

You can buy a great acoustic full sized and steel string based acoustic gutiar at Amazon. The most recommended and the best acoustic guitar would be Jasmine Takamine S35 Acoustic Guitar, Natural

Photo of this guitar:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How to find Session Singing Jobs Easily: A Step by Step guide

Vocalist or singers can sometimes be categorized into two types:

a. Amateur or hobby stage
b. Professional stage

“Amateur or hobby stage” is those types of singers that sing for fun or plain hobby. They typically sing when just invited in friends parties, weddings or in some karaoke event. They are not paid, and just there for some respect.

Professional singers on the other hand are different. They sing for a living (e.g. sing for food :) ) This step by step guide illustrates the critical steps in the transition from an amateur or hobby stage into a professional stage of singing career. This will be very challenging to do because if you want to become a professional singer; then each of your clients are expecting you to be fully ready for everything that comes to your way.

You might hear a lot of stories of singers getting famous, but most of their successes are short lived. Even when there are million of dollars promotion behind it (such as major label stars , the one you will see in television and listen to the radio); I bet if the singer is not fully ready, he/she have a short lived career (5 years the most).

There is something that you need to prepare in order to find session singing jobs really easily. So here are the steps:

Step1.) Audit your abilities.

You should find where your expertise lie in a broad niche of singing career. Are you a lead singer? A background singer? Or what specific skills can you offer to your client that you REALLY think you should be one for it? Selection of specific genre is also a requirement, are you are rock, pop or a jazz singer?

It all started with getting an OVERWHELMING public acceptance of your talent. You cannot be a professional singer by just practicing in your bedroom and one day you go out of your house to look for singing jobs right away. It won’t happen.

So what you should do is to go out to the public and expose your singing talent as much as possible (not yet looking for a job). People will know if you are really a good singer. One way is to join public choir, participate in as many singing contests, choose to sing national hymn in events, play in music bars as much as possible, etc, countless ideas of where to perform..

Gig as much as you can, expose your talent. Get public acceptance. If you receive a lot of positive comments, about your singing talent, start answer this question truthfully: “Am I comfortable of making a living as a singer, is this really the life I need? If you answer yes, move on to step 2.)

Step2.) Document your performance

You might need to write all of your magnificent accomplishments in a piece of paper back up with solid photos, audio recordings, people reviews, etc. This documentation can be considered as your resume and is a very powerful marketing tool for success. You can promote all of these in social networking sites like Facebook, YoutTube, get as many “real” fans as possible.

Step3.) Start meeting industry people

At this period of time, your singing career is still in amateur stage. You are not yet paid for a job. So the key is to submit some singing demos to industry professionals looking for a singer. There are countless opportunities in the internet alone. You might need to network as much as many industry professionals, these includes music industry persons like working in the radio, TV, recording industry, etc. Network as much as you can, then someday, you will receive a phone call asking if you are available for a certain project. Update your resume to include your professional career. Once again, you are now a professional singer. Celebrate your first gig with champagne. Congratulations!