I’m often contacted by music students who aspire to careers as composers and want to know how I got to where I am today.  That’s a long story, but to be successful as a composer and/or musician, you have to start with the basics, you have to love music more than anything, be willing to take risks and refuse to give up.

Watching reality TV shows like “The Voice” constantly reminds me of this.  To their credit, the judges on this show (Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton) are actually quite diplomatic, even when telling fledgling singers that they weren’t bowled over by their performances.  Still, there are some competitors who don’t get picked by even one of the vocal coaches and have to walk away with nothing more than a wish for better luck next time.

Rejection hurts.  But it’s a part of any creative career.  No one makes it to the top of their field as a singer, songwriter, musician or composer without having been told, at some point, that they don’t have what it takes.  Often, it’s simply a matter of not being in the right place at the right time.

Maybe it’s like the old saying, “That which does not kill you makes you stronger.”  I’ve been blessed with some great jobs, I’ve collaborated with some very talented people and consider myself truly fortunate to be making a living doing what I love to do, creating music.  But it didn’t happen by accident or without getting trashed by some pretty harsh critics. I won’t call them out by name — they know who they are.

And yet, this is not to say that all criticism is worthless.  You learn from your mistakes.  But you can’t take the trash talk to heart.  Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, believe in yourself and you’ll be surprised by what you can achieve.

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