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Do you believe in fate or do you take matters into your own hands? Events don't happen as fate would have it and they can lead to different results that we may not see yet. | Photo: Priscilla du Preez
Do you believe in fate or do you take matters into your own hands? Events don't happen as fate would have it and they can lead to different results that we may not see yet. | Photo: Priscilla du Preez
mbx - Fri, June 16, 2023 - 08:00

TOP 15 Music Tips from Forecasters

Do you sometimes feel trapped? No matter what you do, your guitar solos still don't sound like Hendrix, your voice can't open up to the fullness of Chris Cornell and your lyric ideas are still in thrall of simplistic school rhymes. Where to find sources of inspiration and, more importantly, how to enhance your musical development? Today, we look at fifteen tips from forecasters that could help you with your musical progress and self-improvement.

Sometimes it's good to look outside of music for inspiration. It will open up new horizons and insights. It's very refreshing and rewarding to take a break from the oft-repeated clichés and music manuals. Today we will be inspired by a book by Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner called Super-Forecasting (The Art & Science of Prediction), which addresses everything about predicting the future. But don't worry, we won't use the crystal ball. Everything is subjected to the rigorous (and entertaining) scientific method.

But how does this relate to musical development? Everyone – even musicians – wants to know the future but not everyone can realistically prepare for it. You may also be surprised, but people who are really accurate and good at predicting the future share a lot of characteristics with musical geniuses and visionaries. After all, judge for yourself.

1. Vigilance

Nothing is certain – not even in your music career, trends or production. Always be ready for change, and when playing the ukulele is trending, try to compose a song on it or learn a few chords. It might be your breakthrough into the world of hit music.

2. Humility

Reality is extremely complex. Yes, bold printed headlines or loudly shouted simple slogans will work in the media and on YouTube, but don't let that fool you. There's a subtle thread of inspiration in the music, a connection to your inner self and to your listeners. If you can grasp the feelings written between the lines of our existence, you will succeed in reaching the listener.

3. Destiny in your own hands

Events don't happen as fate would have it and they can lead to different results that we may not see yet. Fatalistic surrender to fate robs you of your power. If your brain tells you, "You play the cards you're dealt!", and you believe it, it will become your reality. There are many scenarios for one situation, so don't let the reins of "fate" take over.

4. An active, open mind

Our opinions are mere hypotheses that we should put to the real test. They are not treasures to be protected. Perceive what is happening around you, don't judge, don't evaluate and seek your own way.

5. Intelligence and knowledge

Love intellectual challenges, puzzles and conundrums. Music is not just about feelings. Intelligence is a very important component of musical expression. And it's not just about prog rock or jazz. The lyrics, the production and the form of the message require not only emotion but also a certain amount of intelligence from the musician. David Bowie was a bookworm who liked to get up early for a good read.

6. Perception

The capacity for self-reflection and self-criticism. Easy on paper, bitter in reality. Everyone thinks how open they are to criticism – until it is their turn to accept it. Separating yourself from your own ego and identifying with a role (rock star, creator, musician, artist, bohemian...) is not easy, but essential to the artistic "product".

7. Mathematics? No problem.

Why on earth would a musician have anything to do with numbers? After all, artists, on the contrary, are all those who hate the exactness of numbers, right? The opposite is very often true. Drummers, producers and, in fact, all experienced musicians are in daily contact with numbers – BPM, bar counts, odd meter, playing complex polyrhythms, setting up plugins and so on. And what about music management? Can you make a budget for your next tour or to record an album? Or music theory: the whole system of intervals and scales is built on numbers. And we could go on like this for a long time.

8. Pragmatism

The absence of big ideas, agendas and ideologies. I know, they say "Think big or go home", but isn't that rather a nuisance? Thoughts of a sold-out arena or a world tour can be a source of inspiration and motivation, but they can quickly turn into a nightmare over time, a mountain with no peak in sight. Small steps, clearly set and achievable goals can eventually take you to places you never dreamed possible.

9. Analytical thinking

The ability to step back from a vision of the world where the tip of your nose is the centre of the universe and to listen to opinions from across the (often critical) spectrum.

10. The dragonfly view

Appreciating often conflicting perspectives and then synthesizing them into your own point of view. Observe, listen and take in experiences from all possible directions. Sometimes it is a very valuable experience to see how something definitely SHOULD NOT be done.

11. Probability

Precise formation of your own opinion with many levels of probable scenarios. Plan A may not work, Plan B may equally fail, and Plan C may also go completely down the drain. Do you have a plan D or E?

12. Adaptability

When circumstances or facts change, so does your opinion or perspective. You don't have to be a simple-minded trend and shortcut seeker but perhaps a perceptive hunter of the zeitgeist.

13. Intuition

Perceiving your own tendencies toward easy solutions, emotional traps and biases.

14. Faith in progress

Just because you can't do something or can't do it right away doesn't mean you are not able to improve in that area. Talent is highly overrated in music. You don't have to be a musical genius to be a successful instrumentalist, singer or producer. It's all about trying to be a little bit better than you were yesterday.

15. Consistency

Persist until you achieve your destination. It's not necessarily determination or stubbornness. It's simply a dedication to your destination that you simply work towards without a specific timetable. You've probably heard about the journey and the destination. Which is more important?

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Marek Bero
Bass Gym 101 books, touring & session bass player, football tactics aficionado.