Category Archives: Music

This isn’t music

“This isn’t music!” I said to myself in frustration. Clearing out file after file of song charts and show notes, I thought, “what a waste!”  All that time over the last decades I thought I was working on music. I wasn’t. I was ‘preparing to work on music’. Preparing for a future that is never going to come. Bag after bag into the recycling bin. I had to go through that process – preparing instead of doing, then finally purging. It’s what brought me here to this moment. And it’s no big deal in the grand scheme of things. But when a core realization – “this isn’t music, actually playing music is music!” – lands it’s vital to pay attention.  We can prepare for something until the end of our days, but the next, scary step is what actually makes our dreams come true – actually doing it. Time to make music.

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Six Things to Say No That Will Make Your Next Meeting The Best One Yet

“I remember there were a couple of calls, but I ripped the phone out of the wall and threw it in the ravine.” – Daniel Lanois, producer of Peter Gabriel’s album So.  In both our Influencing Without Authority training and Speaking & Presentation Skills training teams learn how important focus is to get someone to be moved enough to change their mind.   Distractions need to be removed and ‘thrown in the ravine’.   In the next meeting you’re running make any of the following a rule. Each rule will help focus.  No phones No laptopsNo PowerpointNo handoutsNo chairsNo table Now try any of the above on your own. If some part of your day requires you to actually get something done, you need to focus. That means you rip out the distractions and throw them in the ravine.  PS: Influence Without Authority team development training is completely revamped. It’s shown proven results that lead to more effective influencing. Who do you want to influence? 

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“No phone calls” How Daniel Lanois produced Peter Gabriel’s masterpiece So

“Phone calls in the studio are the enemy of making good records. If you’re taking calls and trying to line up your next project, your mind isn’t going to be on the matter at hand. If I can give one piece of advice to anybody making music in the studio, it’s get rid of the phones. “ How did that play out in recording So? “We just kept going in the same location, in an old farmhouse that had a studio set up in a cattle barn. It was nice and private, and I liked that. It’s in the west country of England, a little village called Ashton, so there weren’t too many distractions. When I work, I don’t do anything else, so the less distractions the better.” “As I said earlier, I don’t take a bunch of phone calls or try to line up the next big thing. This was the opposite of cellphone times because we didn’t have cellphones then; you couldn’t even make a phone call out of the west country of England, so that was a plus. I remember there were a couple of calls, but I ripped the phone out of the wall and threw it in the ravine. [Laughs]” According to others in the studio, he actually did. Contrast that with what you see around you every day. The whole world is looking down. And think of all the great, lasting works of art created and deep thinking done lately. Just kidding! If you’re looking down, you can’t look up at the same time. Distraction is the enemy of focus. Distraction is also the enemy of boredom, something we have a collective phobia of.  Rip out your phone from your pocket or from in front of your eyeballs. Place it gently in the ravine. Now you can look up and get the work you want done…done. PS: Influence Without Authority team development training is completely revamped. It’s shown proven results that lead to more effective influencing. Who do you want to influence?

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“All the children on the record” Daniel Lanois on U2’s Unforgottable Fire

Producer Daniel Lanois first worked with U2 in 1984 for The Unforgettable Fire.  “It was a lot of traveling for me, and I got to work in a location outside of the average studio. We were in a castle, so I had to make that work. For me, it was the beginning of mobile recording and flying equipment around in cases. On a sheer physical level, it was a very new experience, doing something outside of a conventional studio.” “The band wanted to be in a location that had some life in it, a place that had a sense of history. We were treating it like a show, really. We set the whole studio up around the band rather than bringing the band to the studio. It’s a more renegade way of working, but I see it as bowing down to the music as opposed to bowing down to the studio. I think it was a milestone in that way.” This type of orientation shift is what is called for when we want to influence someone. We leave our comfort zone. We meet them where they live. That is what empathy is. We walk in their shoes. We put ‘the band’ in the center. Not the tools. Intuitive apps are like that. And lots of things – forms that need to be filled out for example – aren’t. If we’re asked to do something more mechanistically so a computer or a Simpsons-esque ‘drone in sector C’ unskilled worker can have an easier time of it, that isn’t an attempt to positively influence you.  And what about the title of this post? “I treated the song Pride just like all the other children on the record.” Each song a child, a living, breathing vulnerable thing that needs tending or care. Not a product. What if we looked at our work, no matter how mechanistic it appears, as our children? That email, that meeting. It may be maddening, and it may bring enough passion into something so dry that you could actually influence someone for the better today. Bonus: You can check out the video for the song here. PS: Influence Without Authority team development training is completely revamped. It’s shown proven results that lead to more effective influencing. Who do you want to influence?

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“If you can breathe you can play harmonica”

Lou and I combined have led over a hundred Play the Blues harmonica team building activities for corporate groups. In 2017 and 2018 we tried something different. We’ve been teaching open classes at our local libraries. It’s been great – a win/win. We give something back both to our communities we live in and the libraries we both love so much. And being with really young kids, their Moms and Dads, seniors and everyone in-between really fills the heart. It puts a spotlight on how hard it is in the corporate world for everyone involved. In contrast general anxiety, overwhelm, suspicion, and entitlement is magically erased with kids and adults together. Shared, genuine appreciation feeds a deep spring inside. Scott Calzolaio from the Milford Daily News stopped by and wrote a story about it. Here it is below (or you can read it at their site here): Blues, country, rock ‘n’ roll, and others, the harmonica is found most everywhere in the music spectrum. With a few breaths of air, musician Lou Manzi pushed some twangy blues out of his harmonica at the Medway Library on Wednesday afternoon. He was showing off techniques like bending notes, and using his hand to make what he called a “wah-wah” sound, during their bi-weekly lesson. Manzi led this lesson, filling in for regular teacher Rob Fletcher. Manzi recapped the basics before getting into the blues and rock ‘n’ roll techniques that create a great harmonica player. He has been a musician since the 1970s, playing in bands, teaching guitar, and doing other projects. Now retired, he plays with a swing and blues band called The Howling Hound Dogs, and teaches lessons. He said the best way to improve while learning the harmonica, like anything else, is practice. “It’s kind of a wacky instrument because in some ways it’s very easy just to make a sound. If you can breathe, you can play the harmonica,” he laughed. “But can you really play the harmonica really good? Probably not.” The challenge, he said, is getting to know the instrument more intimately by practicing each note one at a time, and mastering it. He said it isn’t as easy as it looks, but he can make a good harmonica player out of anyone. After about 40 years of playing, Manzi said he’s still not the harmonica master he wants to be, but there’s always room for improvement with any instrument, and he’s still learning. “I like Little Walter the most,” he said. “I like the early players the most, like Sonny Boy Williamson.” A group of budding blues players of all ages on Wednesday learned songs such as Billy Joel’s Piano Man to Beethoven’s Ode To Joy. “We’re very interested in music, and I just love exploring new options,” said Holliston resident Nicole McWilliams, explaining why she joined the class. Her son Andrew McWilliams, 11, took the lesson with her. Andrew brought along his own harmonica collection to flaunt during hour–long session. “We’re just a musical family, I’ve been into music for awhile,” he said, explaining that he plays guitar and trumpet. “I already play harmonica, but I wanted to get more involved.” Some had more personal reasons for wanting to learn. Medway resident Pat Mailman said she’s following the legacy of her father. “In fact, my dad was pretty good at it,” she said. “I lost him about a year ago, so I figured I’d give it a shot.” When it comes to the instrument, Manzi said there is a lot that sets it apart from others. Being able to manipulate one sound in a variety of ways is what makes the harmonica so versatile among music genres. “There’s a lot unique about harmonica. For one, you can put it in your shirt pocket,” he said. “It’s very expressive in the fact that you can imitate a singer or a human voice with it.”

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Quix Tip: Top Ten Songs You Can Play Along With on Your C Harmonica

If you have a harmonica in the key of C you can play along with recordings of these songs. Pick your spot on the harmonica and try drawing air in, or blowing air out. It’s fun and easy too! Piano Man by Billy Joel – Play out more than in, melody is in the middle, starting on Hole Six, Blow out. Love Me Do by the Beatles – Draw in first on the bottom three holes and then when the chord changes, blow out on the bottom three holes. Repeat. Or try playing the single note melody on the middle of the harmonica. The first note is Hole Five, draw in. Come Together by the Beatles – This very easy melody can be played almost entirely on Holes Four and Five, drawing in. Start on Hole Five, drawing in. Early in the Morning by Louis Jordan – Draw in first on the bottom three holes and then when the chord changes, blow out on the bottom three holes to play this blues rumba. Repeat. In the one spot of the song that sounds different, draw in on Hole One only. Ode to Joy by Pete Seeger (This lovely version of Beethoven’s melody from the Ninth Symphony is on Pete’s album simply titled Pete) Play out more than in. Melody is in the middle. Start on Hole Five – blow out. Rawhide by Frankie Laine (yes, this is the same classic Rawhide that the Blues Brothers did) – Play the melody only. The first phrase moves back and forth on Hole Two, blow out and then Hole Three, blow out, starting on Hole Two. The second phrase moves back and forth on Hole Two, draw in and then Hole Three, draw in and moves up from there. Can’t Help Falling In Love by Elvis Presley (His version on Aloha From Hawaii begins in the key of C) – Play the melody, the first three notes are Hole Four, blow out; Hole Six, blow out; Hole Four, blow out. These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ by Nancy Sinatra – Play the melody starting (and staying on for a while) Hole Five, Blow out. We Shall Overcome, Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen, and Swing Low Sweet Chariot (all recordings by Charlie Haden and Hank Jones on their beautiful album of spirituals Steal Away) – Try playing the melodies on the middle of the harmonica. Batman (the original wacky 60s TV show theme) – Draw in first on the bottom three holes and then when the chord changes blow out on the bottom three holes. Then repeat. In the one spot of the song that sounds different, draw in on Hole One only. Don’t forget to also add the ‘Bat-man’ vocal part! *The melodies of any simple folk songs, most Americana songs (Shenandoah, Amazing Grace, etc.) can be played, also spirituals and nursery rhymes. You don’t need a recording, just try to find the melody in the middle of the harmonica. Where to get a C harmonica – If you’re a graduate of our Play the Blues program you are already the owner of a C harmonica. If you’re not, it’s time to get your team in tune and give us a call! If you want to try these songs on your own before then, go to a music store and ask for a harmonica in the key of C. Or here on Amazon. Where to get recordings of these songs – The iTunes store, the library or your favorite local music store. Learn more: Play the Blues – Learn to play the blues harmonica in just two hours! Each team member will receive their own harmonica, a copy of Blues Harmonica for Beginners book and play-a-long CD. Within minutes you will be playing a real blues song together. The grand finale features your team as the stars performing an original blues song that you have created together!

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Quest Story: Buddy Guy’s Chicago Blues Quest

Born in 1936, Buddy Guy grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. As a teenager he discovered his quest – playing the blues guitar. When he was 21 years old, he left Louisiana to seek his fortune in Chicago, where such legends as Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf and Little Walter were at the peak of their powers. Almost painfully shy and self-critical, his money ran out. He didn’t have any gigs and he started thinking about heading back home. His luck changed when he was invited to audition at the famous 708 club, where Muddy Waters heard him. “I was going on my third day without eating in Chicago, trying to borrow a dime to call my mom to get back to Louisiana. And Muddy Waters bought me a salami sandwich and put me in the back of his 1958 Chevy station wagon. He said, ‘You’re hungry, and I know it.’ And talking to Muddy Waters, I wasn’t hungry anymore; I was full just for him to say, ‘Hey.’ I was so overjoyed about it, my stomach wasn’t cramping anymore. I told him that, and Muddy said, ‘Get in the car.” He competed in guitar battles, where he emulated the showmanship of his childhood hero Guitar Slim. “I just walked out there with this 150-foot cord, and it was snowing, and I just went straight on out the door. The next day the news media was there, wanting to know who I was.” His performance at a competition in 1958 battling with guitar legends Magic Sam and Otis Rush earned him his first recording contract. Buddy Guy’s fiery, exuberant and at times anarchic guitar playing and singing has entertained audiences around the world, from his early days backing up Muddy Waters and playing with the great harmonica player Junior Wells, to his highly successful solo career. His club, Buddy Guy’s Legends, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in ‘Sweet Home Chicago.’ Learn more: Play the Blues – Learn to play the blues harmonica in just two hours! Each team member will receive their own harmonica, a copy of Blues Harmonica for Beginners book and play-a-long CD. Within minutes you will be playing a real blues song together. The grand finale features your team as the stars performing an original blues song that you have created together!

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Music Team Building Trivia Challenge

Here are some fun music trivia questions from our Name That Tune team building program! Scroll down to find out the answers. The Questions What song did the FBI determine is unintelligible at any speed? In which Madonna song were her vocals pitched up to make her sound younger? (She was 26 at the time.) What song was written after the lead singer and his friend, Marty Jones, got drunk at a bar and were too chicken to talk to a couple of girls (before the lead singer was famous)? What is the name of the duo featuring the brother of Dan Seals, who was “England Dan” of England Dan and John Ford Coley? What was their most popular song? What song made Eminem want to give up rapping? What was the orginal song from which Sesame Street made a version called “(I Can’t Get No) Cooperation” about a school kid who couldn’t find anyone to play jump rope or seesaw with? What song was used in commercials for Bud Light beer in the 90s, featuring 4 guys dressed up as women to take advantage of a promotion at a bar? What song was inspired by the German singer Nina Hagen, when the lead singer of the band came across one of her jackets that he liked? She insisted he take it, explaining that giving stuff away creates good energy. What song did this band’s record company not want on their album because they thought it was too long and that no radio station would play it? The Answers Louie Louie by the Kingsmen Borderline Mr. Jones by Counting Crows Seals and Crofts, Summer Breeze Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones Ladies Night by Kool and the Gang Give It Away by Red Hot Chili Peppers Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s music team building activities: Play the Blues – As featured on NPR and in The Meeting Professional  Learn to play the blues harmonica in just two hours! Each team member will receive their own harmonica, a copy of Blues Harmonica for Beginners book and play-a-long CD. Within minutes you will be playing a real blues song together. The grand finale features your team as the stars performing an original blues song that you have created together! Give the Kids Music – Learn to play and build musical instruments and then give the gift of music to underserved children.

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Nineteen Albums without Words to Support You Playing Work As a Ballad

If you’re attempting to play some important part of your work as a ballad, it will be really helpful to listen to ballads in the background as support. Here are twenty instrumental albums without words to support you playing the work slowly with beauty and feeling. Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny – Beyond the Missouri Sky John Scofield – Quiet John Coltrane – Ballads Chopin – Nocturnes Branford Marsalis – Eternal Anthony Phillips – Field Day Mum – Finally We Are No One David Friesen – Inner Voices Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden – Jasmine Charlie Haden – Land of the Sun Ledward Kaapana – Led Live – Solo George Van Eps – Mellow Guitar Bert Lucarelli, Susan Jolles – Music for Oboe & Harp George Van Eps – My Guitar Charlie Haden & Kenny Barron – Night and the City Charlie Haden – Nocturne Luis E. Bacalov – The Postman (Il Postino) Branford Marsalis – Romances for the Saxophone Barrington Pheloung – Shopgirl

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Quix Tip – Make Your Own Music

Shuffle, skip, whistle, hum. Tap on your coffee cup or your steering wheel in time to music. Sing along to the radio at work, in your car, in the shower. Sing wherever you feel comfortable, and try some places where you don’t. Experiment musically with Louis Armstrong’s quote: “What we play is life.”

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