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Chasing The Dream: Part Two


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Goals and Systems


We will assume you have read Part OneIf not, it would probably be a good idea to click on that link and do so.


Now you have completed the first three steps.

  1. You have confirmed by other people’s reactions you really do have talent.
  2. You realize what you are going to give up in time, money, and aggravation.
  3. You know how you can possibly fit in.


Now we are going to move along to Goals and Systems.  Goals are important but it is the System you use which will get you there.


The first part of setting your Goal is WHY?  Why do this at all?  You already know there are a lot of possible down sides.  Is this a need, a want, or both?  What made you choose this avenue?


Is this a romantic fantasy?  Do you want an audience?  Is this a step toward a larger Goal?  Is this a compulsion?  Do you want the money, the attention, the satisfaction of doing it?


I fell into doing this.  My Goal was to get out of Dodge, have an adventure, and not work a day job.  I hated where I grew up, I wanted more than a dull routine, and I didn’t like the idea of being told or expected to do something which profited someone else more than it profited me.


Music was ONE of the ways I accomplished this Goal.  It was not the only way.  So for me it was only one step toward a larger Goal of becoming financially independent.  This was an avenue.  It was not the destination.


I was a Musician who used that Skill to make money.  I did this in order to become financially comfortable along with owning an event production company, a commercial web development company, and being a free lance graphic artist.  This is creating multiple income streams.  This is a System.


This is why I was never interested in stardom.  Fame was never my Goal and I never considered myself to be musically exceptional enough.  I am good, I am NOT Jeff Beck.  This is having Realistic Expectations.*  I have been in a band which might have had a shot at fame if not for other circumstances, but even if it had it would still just have been a step toward my real Goal.


I started playing music in Jr. High (Middle) School band.  I got kicked out because of my inability to sight read.  This is hilarious when put together with the fact I ended up as a Bandleader/Producer in a studio. (Irony never sleeps)  This shows that for every rule there is an exception or an extenuating circumstance.


I was able to do this because:

  1. I could read music, just not quickly or well.
  2. I was taught The Nashville Numbers System by older musicians.
  3. Popular Music is extremely simple.


This meant I could read something, quickly memorize it, then play it back from memory. You could not do this with Classical Music.


I moved on to playing Acoustic Guitar and then Electric Guitar in my bedroom.  I fooled around and copied records as most do.  I have never been good at chording a guitar BUT I was very good at playing single notes and had a naturally good ear for Melody.


Melody is a very important concept as it is the one of the two bases of most songs which sell.  A chord progression has little to do with it.  A chord progression only supports the Melody.


Most people attempting to write songs get this backwards because they write on an acoustic guitar not on a piano.  They start with a chord pattern then try to put words (Lyrics) around it and then find a Melody.


The BEST songwriters I have known start with a Melody or a Beat.  A Beat is a rhythmic pulsation.  There are many extremely successful one chord songs.  Google it.


Because I could play single notes well I concentrated upon this area and became a good Soloist and Lead Guitarist.  Find out what you do best then target that area.  I obviously can play chords and have to do so but that is not my strength.  Build upon your strengths.  You can shore up the wall later.  This is a part of a System.


In college I started playing in bands, none of which were very good.  Although this was where I discovered I had talent.  People liked to hear me play and were impressed.  THEY thought I was good before I ever considered it anything other than having a good time.


This was the encouragement needed to go further and deeper.  I was actually in twin BFA programs in Theater, one in Writing, the other in Stagecraft.  These led toward forming the event production company and what you are reading now.  This company was another avenue toward my Goal.  None of these things were the Goal in and of themselves.  The Goal was being my own man and not working for the man.


None of the bands I played with in college were serious.  After leaving there I decided to find people who were serious and find a working band who would hire me.  I became someone else’s follower and learned from them what to do.  This is part of a System.


One of the most important things they taught me was to be as simple as possible and not to overplay.  Your friends may think this is cool but if you overplay at an audition for a professional band it will be the last time you will ever see them unless it is from the audience.


Now, what is your Goal and what will be your System for doing it?  I can tell you what I did and show you things you can do.  I cannot tell you what you should do as only you can find your own path.



  • Know who you are talking to and where their perspective will be from.  When your friends, your relatives, or your co-workers tell you how good you are, take as a complement.  When people who are professionals start talking about your career it is time to listen.  They have better things to do with their time than to talk to you for no reason.  These people know what they are talking about and mean what they say.


Part Three

Edited by Clay Anderson Johnson

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