100 Songs


 

I’d like to follow up on my last blog post about practicing. There were so many great and varied responses it really got me thinking about the best way to practice practicing.  I know that sounds funny, but the actual act of practice requires a lot of self-control and discipline. It’s something that I’m constantly working on, and it’s always a challenge, especially when the weather has been so amazing (at least here in NYC). 

On a personal note, I’ve found that my mental and emotional well being are directly connected to my piano practice. If I miss a day, or can only spend a few minutes playing, I begin to feel like something’s missing. If I miss two days or more, odd negative thoughts start to creep into my head, and my motivation to resume practice begins to decrease.  Taking on new projects seems daunting; working on current ones seems painful and pointless. Any more than that and I start to freak out, and immediately force myself into an extended practice session, which of course, sets everything right again.

So the question comes to mind, how can we avoid missing practice, and encourage ourselves to work hard every day? Well, I have an answer of a kind; inspired by the work a friend of mine is doing, as well as others I’ve worked with in the past.  He recently decided to release 30 songs a day over 30 days.  Now take a moment and think about it. By taking on a project of this scope, he’s immediately put himself in a position where he has to be creative and productive for a full month, everyday! What a beautiful way to practice music. When the month is up, not only will he be sitting on a 30-song album, he’ll have a whole new set of skills and ideas. Plus the added bonus of increasing his following as an artist!

Another friend of mine, a painter actually, decided to produce 100 paintings over 100 days.  Everyday I’d look forward to getting an email with a beautiful new piece of artwork.  He put on a big gallery show at the end of the project, sold a bunch of his work, and found his creative spark re-ignited.

I was recently in a session with a fairly well known MC. I looped the beat, and within maybe 20 minutes, he had 32 bars of verse, perfectly written for the project we were collaborating on (pop-hip hop for a commercial). I couldn’t believe it, and when I expressed my amazement, he told me that a few summers ago, he decided to write a 16 bar verse a day for something like 40 or 60 days. Since doing that, he found himself able to write quickly and concisely on the fly, with very little trouble.

On more than one occasion several composers and producers have told me that completing 100 songs is a very important step in ones development. A great pianist and friend just gave me that task recently.  My immediate internal reaction was “but I’ve already done that”. What a mistake! It’s dawned on me that there’s no reason this cycle of 100 songs can’t happen more than once. Each time it’s completed there’s mountains of knowledge to be gained.

I think challenging oneself in this manner is a great and extremely fun way to progress, grow, and practice. What do you think, are you up for it?

 

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6 Responses to 100 Songs

  1. Damian C. says:

    Amazing! It kind reminds me of Trent Reznor’s work flow for Ghosts I-IV which he completed like hours and hours worth of music in like 10 weeks.

  2. Modium ? says:

    There are two things that I would like to say regarding this and the previous post:

    (1) Quantity vs. Quality – It’s different for different people, but I learned about myself that if I push myself towards quantity, the resulting songs tend to sound similar to each other. To avoid that it may be helpful to decide what genre each song will be in beforehand, while making sure that the genres are not repeated (well, not too much anyway).

    (2) If anyone wants to know if it is possible to “practice, practice, practice” while having a demanding day job – the answer is that you have to compromise. I wake up every workday an hour before everyone else, and spend quality time with my DAW. From time to time I get scolded for waking someone up with the sound of keyboard thumping or unamplified electric guitar jangling. On weekends I have a little bit more time for it, but I sometimes think that it still isn’t enough and I could be even better if I practiced more, but that’s what compromise means. If I wasn’t working, I wouldn’t have been able to afford a DAW, with all its upgrades and servicing, in the first place.

    My ultimate goal, is to accumulate some 90 minutes’ worth of original material, which I intend to learn how to sing while accompanying myself on both guitar and keyboard (not at the same time of course). That way I will be able to do gigs on a short notice. Wish me luck.

  3. Joao Correia says:

    Hi Eric, Great post! I have been in many bands and I have always found that writing songs by myself is ..well quite a strenuous job, I always tent to get to caught up in a song and everything starts to turn into mush, or I lose the plot and cant get a good verse or chorus that I think is original enough. This is where I tent to give in, where as when I write with other muso’s there are always creative juices flowing everywhere and you’re able to pick some one else’s brain. I think this could be a great challenge for me, to get my skills as a guitarist up and also as a song writer. Thanks for the post!

  4. Derb Ryan says:

    Great Idea, I´m in!

  5. L' Reyy says:

    AMAZING IDEA! I was just thinking of something similar a couple days ago: Free styling a verse every week on a recording session with a random instrumental, mix it some-what and just release on the net, it’ll be a weekly thing for my fans to have something to listen to every week besides the fact that I’m practicing my quick thinking in front of the mic. I relate to this article, good stuff. -L’ REYY

  6. Damian C. says:

    Hey let me ask you something! What if you have a problem making a song a day because you haven’t produced a whole song in awhile. What would you say is the half way building block to that? Write a Section a day? Produce a whole song a week? What would you recommend for someone that needs to regain their nack in this exercise. The problem is with me I’ve never been too satisfied with the stuff I complete at the end when I rush through and do a song a day.

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