#10 My Top Ten Mistakes as a Songwriter An Education

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Today’s young musicians are very well educated and if you are looking to be hired in the industry, you need to know what you are doing.

I’m an independent musician with no qualifications, no college degree, nothing, and I finished school at 15 years of age, and went straight into a factory but gained my freedom before I was 19 years old as a musician.

Here is a little anecdote from when I was leaving school. The year is 1967 and it’s my second last day at school on a Thursday evening, and my Dad came with me to the prize giving and presentation of certificates, I was picked to recite the poem To A Mouse” by Robert Burns, I was the only person in my year who could do this from memory “Wee sleekit cowrin timorous beastie” etc., I won no prizes and received no certificates, but I wasn’t  bothered at all because I hated school and was a bit of a rebel. While walking our way back home from the ceremony I said casually to him “Dad, I didn’t get any certificates” he said to me “Son the only certificate you will ever have is your birth certificate” Now you might think, I would be deflated by this comment but it had the opposite effect because we both had a good laugh. The point is this, if my Dad wasn’t bothered why should I be, so I did the job in the factory, because being a musician wasn’t a real job according to my Dad. When I started earning good money as a musician while still working at the factory, I decided to give my weekly wage to my mother. This really impressed my Dad he said to me “you are doing quite well as a musician then” and for a while he was my roadie until I learned to drive.

The fact is, we are all our fathers sons and daughters, and our parents are the biggest influence in our life’s, whether we like it or not. Other educators only have a partial influence on how we progress through life, the urge to please our parents should not be underestimated, even when we begin to reach out for our own independence. I’m not rejecting education nor am I saying that it is essential to get on in life. I have taught music for more than 30 years to what must be thousands of students, and some have reached the highest level of education through grade exams and university, but these exams are merely a sign post that tells you how far you have gone and how much further you need to go, much more important lessons will be learned on your personal journey through life. All of us must decide what we want to do with our life and only you can make that decision.

What I know for sure! The majority of  famous Pop and Rock stars have not left a very good example to follow and the Rock star life style and fame thing, all seems a bit cliché now.  Which leads me to mistake number 10, the desire to be famous.

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