You can achieve great things when someone believes in you.
I know this first hand.
Daniel Barret, my music producer, coauthor of The Remembering Process, and friend, urged me to create an album of all saxophone music before I felt ready to do so.
I even argued with him about it.
“You have a two year old son,” I began. “Getting me to record sax music right now is like my offering to train your son for the Olympics. He’s not ready. I’m not ready.”
But Daniel persisted.
“You have a supernatural connection to the sax,” he said. “Every time I hear you play, I feel the power of it.”
Keep in mind that I had heard a baritone saxophone for the first time last January, when Thomas van der Brook came into the studio to add his bari sax to a track on my Reflection album.
I loved it.
I decided right then to buy a sax and learn how to play.
I did, too.
But that was only months ago.
I had a couple lessons to learn how to put the sax together, watched some YouTube videos on how to play the sax, bought 17 books on the sax, and a DVD course, and just kept trying.
Every week or so, I’d record my playing and send it to Daniel.
I was simply sharing.
But he used it as evidence.
He felt I was ready to record.
After a few months – and with Daniel’s polite but persistent encouragement – I took the jump.
I realized I had been arguing for my limitations.
Enough of that.
I agreed to create an album of all sax music.
That was a HUGE, BOLD, and SCARY move.
I didn’t feel confident.
I didn’t feel ready.
Yet I knew that one of the best ways to learn something is to simply dive in and create a project out of it. Recording an album of sax music would put me in a situation where I had to learn how to play, and fast.
I also knew that as soon as I stated an intention, and invited inspiration, that the Universe would rush in to help me.
And so the adventure began.
It helped that sax great Mindi Abair heard me play (during a Skype sax lesson with her) and said, “You have real talent.”
It helped that I went in the studio with Mathew Dixon and added some bari sax to the first track of our album, Invoking Divinity, which came out hauntingly beautiful.
But that wasn’t a whole album of sax music.
I still remember the first day in the studio with Daniel.
As he set up the mike, and I put together the mouthpiece and reed on my baritone sax, he looked at me and said, “On one level this is an insane thing to do, but let’s do it and see what occurs.”
I played the baritone, tenor, and alto saxophones.
Daniel mixed the music and added some tasty sounds.
I wrote and recorded some hypnotic odes, or prayers.
We ended up with ten tracks – the first five with the poems at an audible level, and the second five with the prayers at a subliminal, or below conscious, level.
I decided to call the album Afflatus, which means, “sudden Divine inspiration.”
And the album is done.
The miracle is complete.
When Mark Hallman, who mastered the album, heard it, he said, “This is the best music you’ve recorded yet. A masterpiece.”
When Mathew Dixon, my partner on several albums, heard it, he said, “It sounds fantastic! I just finished listening and it sounds incredible!”
I’m about as proud as any musician could be.
I’ll be selling the album in 2015 but I’ll be giving it away — yes, you read it right: giving it away for free — in December, as part of my birthday/end of year sale. (I’ll give you details later, of course.)
But I wanted to share this adventure with you today for the lesson it reveals.
It all started with someone who believed in me more than I believed in myself.
With encouragement, you can achieve virtually anything you can conceive.
What’s your dream?
I believe in you.
Go for it!
PS — If you want someone who believes in you, check out Miracles Coaching.
I’m in the recording studio with Grammy nominated legend Ruthie Foster and award-winning singer and producer Daniel Barrett. We have joined forces to create an album together.
I’m flattered beyond belief that these two superstars want me on an album. After all, I’m relatively new to being a musician. And I’ve been a long time fan of both of them. To be in the studio with them is mind boggling.
I was so excited to record with them that I showed up for our first session thirty days early. (!)
But what’s really interesting is how we are all stretching ourselves.
For example —
Ruthie is famous for her singing but not her lead guitar.
On our album, she is playing lead electric guitar.
Daniel does everything, from engineering to singing and more, but he doesn’t play the drums. Or at least didn’t.
On this album, he does.
I’m a newbie to music and don’t have all that much experience doing anything (even though I’ve released eight albums in over three years). I certainly am brand new and uncomfortable on the saxophone.
On this album, I am playing a baritone saxophone.
What’s going on here?
Each of us is stretching out of our comfort zones.
When you stretch your comfort zone, you reach a new level of comfort and confidence.
“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?” – Robert Browning
When Daniel, Ruthie and I go into the studio, we talk, share, joke, and play. Out of our openness, we come up with songs. Out of our willingness to take risks, and exceed our comfort zones by pursing our desires, we create new possibilities.
The result is magic.
And some pretty cool music.
This is an important lesson for each of us.
You have “comfort zone limits,” too.
When you find them and nudge them a bit, you extend your power and attract new results.
We aren’t doing daredevil stuff in the studio.
We are taking what we haven’t done before but want to do, and focusing on making something happen by doing it.
We are simply following our inspiration and taking action to create something new.
Yes, there is often fear involved, but we feel the fear and do it, anyway.
We turn the fear into fuel.
Here’s an example —
One day, while Ruthie was playing lead electric guitar (and truly wowing me at it), I received an idea for a song.
I jotted it down.
As she kept playing, I started singing the song in my head.
The lyrics and her melody seemed to work together.
When she was done playing, I did something daring.
I said, “I want to sing!”
This was a huge move on my part.
Singing at all, any time, any place, has been a challenge for me.
I’m new at it.
I’ve been insecure about it.
And to sing for Ruthie Foster — one of the best singers I’ve ever heard in my entire life — was a courageous even outrageous thing to suggest.
Even though Ruthie had mentioned just the day before, “I like your singing, Joe. You can sing with me if you want,” I didn’t feel ready to leave my comfy mindset and step into her arena.
But I wanted to push out of my comfort zone.
My heart was racing but I knew I had to do this.
Daniel and Ruthie are loving and supportive, and urged me on.
After all, each of us was doing something new.
We were all stretching.
So I took a deep breath, got in front of the mike, and belted out my tune.
After I sang, Daniel said, “That was some of the best singing I’ve ever heard out of you.”
I looked over at Ruthie and she was beaming a sunny smile and nodding her head in agreement.
It was amazing.
Daniel’s drumming, Ruthie’s lead guitar, my vocals — it was a stretch for each of us but it all came together into a powerful new song that will be on our forthcoming first album.
And that song will probably be titled, “Stretch Yourself!”
All I’m reminding you here is do what you fear.
If you have a dream but feel nervous about it, that’s good.
It means you care.
The next step is to get up and do something about it.
Your comfort zones are invisible lines in your mind.
You can melt them with a little stepping forth.
I’m packing up my baritone saxophone and heading back to the studio right now.
It’s time for Saxman Joe to do his thing.
What are you going to do today to stretch yourself?
PS — Ruthie Foster told me she got an “Aha!” from listening to my song, ‘Reflection,’ off my latest singer-songwriter album of the same name. You can hear samples of all the tracks on that album and grab the CD (which comes with a collectible, limited edition booklet, and with a surprise gift) over at http://www.ReflectionCD.com
BONUS: If you’ve never heard Ruthie Foster sing, watch this…