Artists Survival Guide

On Listening

Note: I was asked by Steve Ashby, who teaches a music appreciation class at Virginia Commonwealth, to contribute my thoughts on listening to music as part of his series “Listeners on Listening”. I’ve reproduced the interview below. You buy a new album, or hear a new piece for the first time, describe your routine/experience of its first listening. On first listen, I hope to be captivated and swept away, so I don’t pay attention to details.

Continue reading

On Musical Collaboration

The following essay is part of a series about survival skills for artists. Here is the link to the entire series. I love to collaborate. One of the reasons I enjoy playing the cello so much is that it can play many musical roles: lead, rhythm, backup, counterpoint. Having the cello as my instrument forces me to be versatile, and to find my sonic niche in every collaboration I participate in.

Continue reading

On Theory

The following essay is part of a series I am writing on survival skills for artists. Here is the whole series. Many artists have a bad relationship to theory. This is understandable. There are a lot of bad teachers of theory, who fail to add that theory is mostly a suggestion, and that figuring how to break these rules of music theory is part of the fun of learning it. Also, most of us were taught theory when we were adolescents, which made theory seem restrictive and something to rebel against.

Continue reading

Artists Survival Guide Essays now Creative Commons

I’ve decided to release my Artist’s Survival Guide Essays under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. I feel like they’re more valuable to the community if I let people share them freely. You are free to do what you like with them as long as you attribute me. Please refer to the CC license link above for more info about how to properly attribute me (Ted Laderas, ted@15people.net).

Continue reading

On Influences

The following essay is part of a series I am writing on survival skills for artists. Here is the whole series. It’s often said that “good artists borrow, but that great artists steal.” Stealing is a necessary process to making art, but I think it only works when you have a thought process behind it. What you steal should be processed by you such that the influence is unrecognizable on immediate listens.

Continue reading

On Success

Or, How to suck it up and be happy for your successful friends. The following essay is part of an ongoing series that I am writing about Survival Skills for Artists and protecting oneself. Click here for the rest in the series. It can be egotistically bruising when one of our friends is successful and by comparison, we are not. But you should be happy for your friends when they are successful for the following reasons.

Continue reading

On Depression

The following essay is part of a an ongoing series I am writing about survival skills for artists and protecting yourself from the world. If you like this, please share. Here is a link to the entire series so far. I have a depressive personality. When I am depressed, my brain actively works against me. I have feelings of worthlessness and I doubt myself. I obsess and ruminate about the few bad things that happened that day, way out of proportion to their effects.

Continue reading

On Recharging

The following essay is part of an ongoing series on survival skills for artists. For others in the series, click here. You are not a factory. If you are commercially successful, the treadmill of commercialism may demand you churn work after work, piece after piece. But tailoring your work to the external world comes at the cost of diminishing your internal world. Creating art is not manufacturing. It is not a commodity, it is a gift to the world.

Continue reading

On Craft

The following is part of a sporadic essay series I am writing on survival skills for artists. If you enjoy reading these, please share! I think that most starting artists have an overly romantic view of craft. They buy into the cinematic notion that the conception and creation of an artistic work is a smooth process that proceeds like a feverish dream from the moment of inspiration in a single session.

Continue reading

On Sensitivity

The following essay is the start of a sporadic column about surviving the world as an artist. If you are enjoying reading these, please leave a comment or share. Sensitivity is required for art. Photographers and visual artists have a sensitivity to light that is fundamental to their work. Rimbaud, that visionary poet, remarked that a poet becomes a poet through a “systematic derangement of the senses”. Making music requires sensitivity to how slight tweaks in a track affect the overall perception of the piece.

Continue reading