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Thread: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (rumination)

  1. #1

    Default How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (rumination)

    I want people to hear me play. More people, I mean.

    I'm playing in a couple groups, and that's good. So what else can I do? What have I to offer to the world that is different, that makes people want to hear me play the mandolin, compared to _______?

    I wonder about this stuff a lot. Maybe too much.

    (rumination mode off)

    Happy new year.

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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    You simply have to find ways to let people listen to your playing and it's up to them to decide whether you are different enough or good enough to be listened to.

    I'm not sure who it was who said that a masterpiece cannot be judged on the basis of anything which has gone before it.

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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    I'd say find what you do best, then grow it and show it. Mandolins aren't so common that everyone does exactly the same thing, so find the niche that you fit best in and enjoy filling it.

    And yes, Happy new year to all!
    -- Don

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    en kunnskapssøker James Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    Do curb-side busking either solo or with someone else? Find a friend who can play a didgeridoo with you perhaps. Do some volunteer work for events. Put together an album and put on Bandcamp - a lot of aspiring players go that route. Play in bars, pubs, cafes - one of the local groups does that.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    The best musicians to me aren’t necessarily the virtuosi — we all can’t be Marshall or Thile — on their instruments but those who can communicate the joy they feel playing the music they love. Don’t worry about being unique. Just get out there and play and make friends/connect with lots of other musicians.
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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    With few exceptions, marketing is the number one factor in being heard by a large number of people. Of course you want to sound good once they do listen, but there is no shortage of great players that virtually no one has heard of. I know plenty. Playing is secondary as far as success goes.

    At no point in time has self promotion been more accessible. There is also more competition than ever. SO what sets you apart? For starters your appearance. Yeah, I know, this is all about music, BUT, most people will see your picture long before they hear you. Concert poster on a window? Your image on Facebook, Instagram, twitter, wherever..... Good Photography offers the single biggest return.

    Next up would be a website and videos. Once you have this basis, you just need to get them out there and people will want to be part of what you are doing. Not just fans, but other musicians....

    It works.
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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    Create your own youtube channel and if you have the stuff you will be rewarded. Lindsey Sterling started out that way, as others have. Good luck with your ambitions.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    Start by posting a video in this thread! Let’s hear what you can do... people on the forum might have some specific ideas if they have an idea of what you sound like...

    I’ll second the idea of playing everywhere you can. Set out business cards with a link to a website that has your contact info, song samples,etc. All of my group’s paying gigs come from people hearing us playing for free at coffee houses, benefits, etc. It also seems to help if they have an open bar at the free gigs... apparently that does wonders for how people think we sound..
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    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    The obvious answer will sound maybe unresponsive, but it is the only honest answer. How are you different from all other mandolinists? You are you; and they are them.

    OK, so, what have you to offer to the world that is different, that makes people want to hear you play the mandolin, compared to _______?

    A difficult thing to answer, that. I do have some thoughts on this.

    < $rumination_mode=1; >

    1. Embrace your individuality. Be comfortable in your skin, and come from a place of solid comfort or confidence when you perform. That can help.

    2. Choose music that speaks deeply to you or that you enjoy the dickens out of - and maybe many others will feel the same way about it. It can help to perform tunes with a passion that listeners will feel.

    3. Keep practicing your chops. On your instrument, and with your vocals, if you use vocals. Keep improving and polishing your chops. It doesn't hurt to work toward the highest level of virtuosity you can achieve, and it is a life-long pursuit.

    4. Enjoy your journey.

    5. Promote the product. As others have indicated, get out as much as possible, play for more people, also play with more people, even if your main interest is solo performance in the end.

    Great advice from Robert on imagery. Professional photos, professional performance videos, professional business cards, brochures, website, social media pages ...

    Assuming you have the chops, are comfortable with yourself and your repertoire. Be yourself, because that has to be good enough or not: It's what you've got.

    < $rumination_mode=0; >
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    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    When you do have a gig, publicize it. Submit it to calendars associated with local newspapers, magazines, radio stations. Send them complete information, including your name, the band's name, the venue, start time and end time, how much the cover charge is, and most important what you do! Include a link to a website or FB page if you have one for your music, and include contact information. (I maintain an online and print calendar as part of my job. Sketchy information, especially for what looks like an otherwise interesting event, is frustrating. When I can't dig up any information, the groups gets listed as something like "live music in the bar." Not too inspiring.) Get it up on Facebook pages—yours, the venue's, local electronic bulletin boards if your area has them. Post flyers at music stores, laundromats, anywhere that has bulletins boards.

    Do you hire out for weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs, and grand openings? If so, let people know.

    Keep an eye out for new venues, and talk to them about playing. The local farmers market here sometimes has live music. Some hospitals will have small groups come in to play, and both patients and staff enjoy a break in the routine. The library?

    When you get gigs, treat even the little ones like they are huge. Develop a reputation for being reliable. Booking musicians makes herding cats seem like a simple, straightforward job. If local venues know they will never have a problem with you, they're more likely to call.
    1988 Reno mandolin, Trinity College mandola, Kentucky KM 272 oval hole mandolin, a few bowed string instruments and some stray woodwinds

  14. #11

    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    I am generally unmoved by the number of listeners. I played for 120 one week, 8 the next. I admit I'm the weird one - most musicians want to play for a big crowd.

    But I find that I don't give more/less relative to the number, so it's really irrelevant (for me and my purposes).
    ---
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    Registered User jdchapman's Avatar
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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

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    Dress Cool.

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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    There's books that might interest you: Savvy Musician (Cutler), How To Make It (Herstand), Beyond Talent (Beeching) and also Derek Sivers old blog posts: https://sivers.org/nolimit and https://sivers.org/up2you and lots of others.

    Another list: https://thenatelee.weebly.com/books.html

    I think the single most important things are your network of musicians, recording /practice/teaching studios, radio station, venue operators etc that will help you get exposure, and entertaining youtube vids with high quality sound. High quality: a good room, good mike, preamp, DAC, tracks not drowned in reverb. I think the vids that have the most impact for me are a a couple musicians or a trio that play well together. There's also the videos of playing duets with themselves, like Westley Carr's.
    Last edited by gtani7; Jan-01-2018 at 12:13am.
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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    I have absolutely no interest in whether or not anyone listens to me, so I am probably the worst authority on this.... but that said, it occurs to me:

    To really answer the question one has to be honest in answering, AND honest in accepting the answer... and that includes the answer,

    "Maybe I am NOT that different from all the other mandolinists".

    If that is, in fact, the case, then one could begin addressing that problem....

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    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    The only thing you can (honestly) do is draw from and emulate the players* (and singers) that personally move you the most until you absorb and internalize that mix of influences. (* and this means of players of any instrument, not just mandolins.)

    At this point, you are just a blank slab of stone; which over time it will (hopefully) weather down to reveal what is/you-have inside. But that doesn't mean when your true essence starts revealing itself, that people, or the mandolin crowd in particular, will want to hear (and/or buy) your unique blend/mix of influences. (Been there, done that)

    Eric Johnson talked about (his) "style" being an end results of the various influence (he) liked most on his Total Electric Guitar instructional video. Perhaps you can find (and post) a YouTube excerpt of that segment?

    From the artistic point-of-view, it is as simple as that, and it takes years until you can truly "play like yourself" and your sound is recognizable within a few notes or a few measures. In fact it becomes harder and harder to play like anyone else, except in those rare instances where you hear/channel some past player because, at the moment, it is what the situation demands. (And there's no predicting what spectre may pay you a visit.... Hendrix? Django? Monroe? Garcia? Gimble? Cootie Williams? BB...?. and unless someone happens to record the moment, you probably won't really remember where you "went" and/or what you played. Such is the dreamlike/psychedelic nature of "the zone".)

    But for the "music business" pov, if that is what you are asking for, I'm sure you'll get plenty of other advice.

    Niles H

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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    Why do you want others to hear you?

    It's easy these days to get yourself out there these days. This leads to a lot of incoherent garbage on the web. Do some soul searching so you have a clear message and clear personal objectives. Write it all down. Refer back to it again and again. Track your progress.

    A friend of mine wrote out a ten year plan for his life. He got it done in five (yup, he is a little obsessed). So, he sat down and wrote out his next ten year plan. He always has goals to track against. While I had documented goals, I did not go to nearly the level of detail he did.

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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    Quote Originally Posted by T-E-F View Post
    I want people to hear me play. More people, I mean.
    Create an online outlet for your music. Passion is infective. So is talent, but I enjoy listening/watching folks that can realy share themselves thru music whether it's fun or serious. You call tell in 30 sec if someone is just going thru the motion of it.

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    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    I've always believed the old proverb that a man's gift makes room for him and brings him before great people to be true. Anyone who really has something to offer will find an outlet for it. Cream rises to the top, etc, etc. It's automatic. It can't really be planned or stopped. It just happens. YMMV.
    ...

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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    Quote Originally Posted by Caleb View Post
    It's automatic. It can't really be planned or stopped. It just happens. YMMV.
    I like that thought and generally agree as long as desire is factored in

    At some point, you have to put yourself out there and play for others, taking that chance to be welcomed or ignored.

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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    Back in the early seventies, I bought a Stephan Grossman how-to book on playing ragtime guitar. I never understood any of the instructions, and there's only one thing I remember from it. He said that no matter how well you learn to play the songs in the book, you'll never sound like anyone but you.

    So no, don't worry about it. Your sound is as unique as your finger prints. None of my music heroes sound anything like each other. They all just focus on playing well, finding good sounds, and following The Path.

    Not a bad idea!

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    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Wilson View Post
    I like that thought and generally agree as long as desire is factored in
    Right. Whoever succeeded at anything who didn't want to?
    ...

  28. #22
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    You are you; and they are them.
    That's the point in a nutshell.

    And it raises a question: are you really you? If not, you should work on finding and embracing yourself.
    A player invites his listeners to a party inside his personality, so to speak. To do that, he needs two things:
    1 - a personality to invite listeners to,
    2 - the conviction that this is the best place listeners could possibly be invited to.

    #2 is especially important, because
    a - if you don't believe in yourself, why should anybody else?
    b - if nobody follows your invitation, you're still in the best place you can possibly be (i.e. happy, and your happiness is independent of the views of strangers you cannot control*).

    Your playing is displaying this to others.

    (*) don't go down that slippery slope
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    As a drummer I've toured, done studio work, and even produced a CD for a young band. What I've noticed about successful musicians is that they have talent - not necessarily great, but always good. They are driven and willing to work as opposed to partying. They have a supportive spouse and/or family. And they have a way of connecting to their audience that makes people feel this guy or gal is one of us.
    As far as mandolin, every player that I'm paying attention to these days is a supporting musician for one or more front men. What I listen to are how they come up with parts to complement the other musicians, create the "hook" or play off of it, and also make connections with the audience as well as rest of the band. I love watching a video of a live performance and catching the band making that quick glance before breaking into the bridge or a solo break. Then I look for the smiles. Perfection!
    Being right is overrated. Doing right is what matters.

  30. #24
    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: How am I different from all the other mandolinists? (ruminati

    I have to be the devil's advocate here. One person mentioned Lindsey Stirling and the Instagram route. That's great, but Lindsey's a unique person, who composes, dances while she plays and is also young enough to be a role model for tons of tweeters, especially those in school, orchestras. The other significant thing about Lindsey is that she's really good, and she practices. A lot. All the social media outlets are really saturated right now (I work with a number of artists on social media posting, so getting seen is tough. it's also it's own cottage industry right now, with a bunch of "consultants" selling they advice, most of which is self-evident, and really doesn't rate rate paying for.) Oh, and for free advice that's not mine, try this link here, a Strings Magazine article, which addresses this by interviewing successful musicians.

    I will also disagree with just about everyone here by saying that playing with all sorts of people will help you find your own voice. You'll find some sort of compromise voice this way, but the vast majority of musicians I've worked with through the years who have "made it big" do so by woodshedding, or playing solo in private. A Lot. A step-by-step way to get going on this is:

    A-learn a tune that you can play by heart
    B-repeat tune over and over and this is more of a key than you might ever imagine) by NIOT sitting down in one place, but get out of the chair and walk around the room, The house. Outdoors. You need to change up the mental triggers that limit you when you play in one little practice room all the time. You need to set your brain free, which sounds like a bunch of new-age weirdness, but it works.
    C-Spend at least a few days playing with the tune; faster, slower, changing rhythms, maybe a note or two, but but don't go free jazz.

    The idea is to let your internal clock, ear, and muscles take over without you thinking about it. Then you'll begin to sound like yourself. Do this for a couple of months, and you'll have a start. Remember great jazz players like Sonny Rollins took a couple of years off from playing with others just to reset his inner ear and voice. When he came back, he went from being a really good player to one of the great voices in American music, of any genre. And he's not alone. It's why conservatory players get banished to solo work for huge lengths of time if they're stuck in a rut.

    If you're really serious about sounding like you, you need to not play with others for a bit. Then when you step back in to band life, you be the leader.

    I know this may sound a little heretical, but the great players who are the unique ones really do spend a lot of time on their own.

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