How do you become able to respond in-the-moment to whatever comes your way ... in music, or in whatever it is you are doing?
What the heck am I talking about?
A little back story might be in order here.
When I came to NYC to play music, things got real. Meaning: being able to play my guitar at a certain level got real, being able to put on a great performance got real. Real meant having to do those things with no rehearsal ... or very little rehearsal. Or maybe, if I was lucky, an hour of rehearsal. Which meant all the responsibility was on me. (Of course, the responsibility was ALWAYS on me ... but when you know you have a few rehearsals to work the kinks out -- aka slack off -- you don't prepare as well.)
So how do you man-up and get real?
One way is to get scorched by the fire ... You do that by slacking off and not preparing enough and then going to the gig and getting your arse handed to you. That's one way.
The other way is to put yourself into situations where you are forced to be nimble, where you are forced to get real. Put yourself in situations that scare the sh*t out of you. Do this as often as possible. Do it even when you don't feel like it. Do it even when you think about it and it makes you feel like you want to throw up. I would argue that if you feel like you want to throw up with nervousness and anxiety it means you are doing the right thing.
Here are a few situations that are coming up for me that scare the sh*t out of me but I am doing anyway because I want to be better, grow, change, work, go deeper:
My new band's gig tomorrow night at the Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3 at 9:30pm. We will have only a few hours of rehearsal and I've got to get ALL my ideas and passion and vulnerability out there for my band mate Julian Lage to feel, take on, blow up in his own way. You can get tix here btw if you want to see what this looks like in real time. Bring it!
Booking a series of figure drawing models to come to my apartment and pose for me so I can finish a HUGE art project I am working on. It seems strange to say that I am nervous about having someone come stand around in my apartment nude so I can draw them ... but I am. It means laying out cash, it means showing up to complete some huge drawings I am working on (haven't been drawing for a couple of months now), it means believing that I am actually good enough to pull of this art stunt of mine. What's the art stunt? Turn these huge figure drawings into banners the size of a three-story building and hanging them from the roof of my apartment building. Ha! I have no clue how that will happen ... but it is happening.
Be nimble. Force yourself into situations that call on spontaneity and work your face off to prepare.
much love, over and out