How to Train Musicians and Artists in the Age of Instant Gratification

Written by: April Vargo


We live in this awesome time right now when so much amazing music is being made and produced.  People have the opportunity to engage with this music in so many different ways. 

I remember when I was growing up if I wanted to hear my favorite song, I either had to wait for it to get played on the radio, or go to the CD store and purchase the entire CD.  The moments when you couldn't drive yet, you had to wait to get a ride.  The wait seemed like forever.  Then you get to the store and realize that the latest CD's were super expensive.

In my house, we had to use our allowance money to pay for the items we wanted.  We had to learn how to budget and save so that we could buy the items we really wanted.  To part with the $20ish was sometimes a challenge.  It really made you think about how badly you wanted that particular CD. 

Fast forward to present day and it's so easy to get music.  You can get online and purchase single songs for $.99, watch the artist's music video on Youtube, ask Alexa to play you the song, and program your preference of streaming online music radio.  There's literally zero waiting to get a ride or having to budget your money to see if you can afford to purchase the entire album.  

People get to be exposed to so many different genres of music, including discovering underground music that just wasn't easily available before.  I've noticed a growing trend in creativity and exploration.  I'm seeing a lot of kids who are experimenting with different types of music and different ways to play / experience music. 

I'm also noticing a growing trend of people who want to make it big in music thinking it's so easy.  Youtube has given people of all ages a platform to post themselves covering their favorite songs.  Some of these covers are fabulous and catch attention of big names.  Most get lost in the masses. 

Many teens want to sing music from big name pop stars, thinking that it's easy and that they'll sound great.  They don't understand all of the work and technique that has gone into making that song sound the way it is.  Having to explain to them they aren't ready for that song yet, get's them frustrated. 

Picking music to perform is a challenge.  You want to pick something that you can connect to, but you also have to pick something that you can actually do at that time in your life.  It doesn't mean, you'll never be able to perform that song, it just means you're not ready now.  

Sometimes this is a hard lesson to learn, especially in the time of instant gratification.  You're telling someone they have to wait, they aren't ready, sometime down the line they can do it.  People, especially teens and individuals in their 20's, aren't used to having to wait for something.  In some cases, they don't have the skills to do so.  Everything else in their life happens right then and there, why can't this happen the same way? 

It's important to show them the work that they would need to put in to achieve the sound they so desire.  Sometimes they are willing to do that work and want to get started right away.  Other times this takes away from the glamour of the fame they've built up in their head.  They end up changing their mind, saying it's simply not worth it. 

As with anything, the amount of work you put in directly equates to the end product you receive.  You can rush through and throw something together, but it won't be quality, won't be something you can re-produce or sustain in the long run.  If nerves or anything else get thrown in the mixture it could literally throw off your entire performance. 

Skill is something that needs to be developed and takes time.  Over time you also develop experience, this experience helps you to become better, more knowledgable, more comfortable, and able to tackle unknowns. 

Not every performance, lesson, or practice session goes well.  Sometimes you crash and burn.  Those are important moments, this is where you learn and grow.  If you're really passionate about something you'll use those experiences to make you better and stronger. 

Success isn't always about the fame and glory, many times it's built on the failures and hardships that one took to get there.  When people hear stories of struggle and hardship, it somehow sounds glamorous.  The idea of living in your car and then waking up one day in a multi-million dollar home sounds like a dream come true.  If they can do it, so can I.  There's absolutely some validity to that, I mean it does happen to people every day.  However, it doesn't happen in the numbers that people would like to think.  

Another growing trend I'm seeing is 20-30 something year olds who yearn to quit their jobs to go into acting, film, theatre, and music.  When asked how much experience they have, most say zero.  They want to start coaching, don't want to pay for it, and want to get connected to major players in the field because they believe they have something.  When asked how much time they think they can dedicate to practice and honing their craft, many say little to none.  This is from the words of adults, not from children.       

Again, this isn't to say that their dreams can't happen, they absolutely can.  However, with the limitations they are putting on themselves - don't want to practice, no experience, don't want to pay for coaching - they are absolutely setting themselves up for failure.  

I think going into any new career path, there is absolutely opportunities for great success, but you have to be willing to put the work in.  Learning a new industry, honing your skills, developing contacts, and growing your experiences will help you to succeed.

I read an article the other day that said that people don't become full-fledged adults until 30 years of age.  I'm not sure if I completely believe that, however, I don't think that you know exactly who and what you are right away in your 20's.  It takes time to see what you like and what you're good at.  Find your strengths and develop those.  

The instant gratification society that so many have grown up with, needs to be kept in check and understood that most good things happen over time.  



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