Keep an Eye out for the Secret Weapons of the Creative World.
Being a kid at summer camp in the late 70’s was cool for a whole bunch of reasons.
For me, the biggest one was turning onto the amazing rock music that was blasting out of the transistor radios of the day — The Who, Zep, Petty, Springsteen, Billy Joel, Journey, Styx. These were the summers when classic rock was born.
When I got back home to suburbia, I begged my mom to buy me an electric guitar. No dice, no way. But if I took lessons on my dad’s crappy acoustic for a year, she’d think about it. Fine. Whatever.
I spent Tuesday afternoons for the the next six months with Mr. B. This guy was from a bygone era. He was militant, utterly humorless, and really into classical fugues. I was a tween slacker. I just wanted to rock. Needless to say, my passions quickly dwindled, and I gave it up.
A few years later, I was slogging through my teenage years, getting into trouble. My mom informed me that I needed a hobby. I thought for a moment. How about a guitar? An electric guitar. And I pick the teacher. To my amazement, she agreed.
A week or two later, I had a piece of shit electric axe, a tiny amp, and a rekindled dream.
I somehow enlisted the long-haired twenty-something stoner from the local music shop to be my teacher. When we started, he told me a few things about himself. He said he failed pretty much everything in high school. But he loved music, and loved playing guitar. And he could teach me to rock if I worked hard at it.
This guy could seriously shred. I stared at the fretboard while he’d wail out Van Halen solos, Def Leppard riffs and insane Rush chord progressions.
I explicitly told him that I was not interested in learning to read music, study theory, or anything else that reminded me of school. He was fine with that. He didn’t want to be reminded of school either.
For the next two years, this guy showed me how to play so much amazing music — Ozzy, Bowie, U2, Quiet Riot, Sex Pistols. Then I’d disappear into my room, and practice until my fingers bled. Literally.
Since then, I’ve kicked a fair amount of ass in writing, recording, producing and teaching music. To this day, I barely know any theory. At least academically. In fact, in some ways, I barely know what I’m doing. In other ways, I got it going on. There’s more than one way to rock, ya know.
What’s my point? At the end of the day, that long-haired metalhead got me all fired up and turned on in a big way. My rock ‘n’ roll dreams would have died with Mr. B if that high school dropout hadn’t taken me under his wing.
Our teachers, our inspirations, and our guides, come in many forms, many disguises. They certainly don’t need degrees. Or even a hot shit resume. Keep an eye out for mentors, magicians and undercover change agents. Approach them when you feel the calling. They are the secret weapons of the creative world.
Jeff Leisawitz is an award-winning musician/ producer, a critically acclaimed author, and internationally distributed filmmaker who has devoted his life to the art of creativity. As the guy behind Electron Love Theory, Jeff fused interviews with Seattle’s WTO demonstrators into electronic music, garnering more than a quarter million downloads worldwide. Jeff has released five studio albums, and has landed more than 5,000 music placements in film, TV and multimedia, including clients like HBO, MTV, Discovery, Microsoft, NBC and many others. As the founding writer for Seattle’s taste-making alternative rock station 107.7 The End, he chronicled the alternative grunge scene in the 90s. After training as a Life Coach and practicing NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Re-Patterning) Jeff landed a gig as an adjunct faculty member at Pacific Lutheran University, teaching college students to rock (seriously). When creative businesses and organizations like Brown Paper Tickets, Tacoma School of the Arts, Avasta Press, and others need an awesome infusion, Jeff leads workshops and events to fire up the creative spirit and empower people to tap into their true potential. ‘Not F*ing Around: The No Bullsh*t Guide for Getting Your Creative Dreams Off the Ground’ is Jeff’s first book. You could contact him via his website.