Music maker & neuroscientist

10 things I learned from earning a PhD

1. Failure

I sucked at most things in the lab. 

2. Find your strengths.

I was good at a few things, particularly statistics and animal behavior. 

3. The lab is wherever you are.

You have the internet in your pocket, don’t you?

4. Innovation

Solve your own problems. Other people are likely to have the same problems too. 

5. Learn how to solve problems

By developing a specific framework for solving problems you can systematically create a solution over time.

6. What gets measured gets improved

In the lab you measure EVERYTHING. Imagine if you started measuring the things you want to improve? 

7. You don’t need a PhD to be a scientist.

You just need curiosity. 

8. Be an independent thinker

You can take other people for their word, or you can evaluate their conclusions for yourself. Your solution, it turns out, exists where other people’s assumptions are. 

9. Do work that excites you.

Nothing sucks more than being stuck long hours working on a project you couldn’t care less about. However, even projects you love have difficult periods of time where it takes a tremendous amount of effort to keep yourself on track, back on track, and motivated. 

10. Be an entrepreneur

The lab needs to pay the electric and water bill too, and so do you. So learn how to sustain yourself and your lab financially.

Success is relative.

People are rooting for you to succeed

I was going through my wedding photos the other night. As I browsed through them one by one, I could feel the emotions I felt that beautiful April night. 

Then, I stumbled upon this photo. My wife and I are the focus, but what struck me was all the people in the background. These are all the people that cared enough to show up and celebrate with us, to drink, eat, dance, and share love. 

It’s easy to forget that there are people out there in the world that care about your success in life.

They’re there, but we have to pull them out of the woodwork and engage with them. We need to be proactive with the people that care about us, and take the time to email or call an old friend or a family member. 

As I embark on my music career it gives me inspiration to be reminded that people do care.   

Self-help books

We live in a culture of nonfiction self-help books. These make the New York Times best seller week after week, year after year. We want to improve ourselves, our finances, our performance, and a lot of books make it seem like there is a pain-free way to achieve our goals.

"If you do this, that way, here, you will achieve so much more."

But you still have to do it! You still have to do the work! You have to change your life! And that takes commitment.

La Lucha has finished recording the third album, and now we are working  to release the album. I’ve been reading about independent artists, music labels, and you see your peers who are fortunate enough to be in the spotlight. 

You think, “what did they do?” “If I do this, and that, there, maybe I can achieve.” 

Regardless of what strategy we use for releasing our music, there is no pain-free way to reaching an audience. Such is life. 

There is no pan-free way to losing weight

There is no pain-free way to making more money 

There is no pain-free way to improve our lives. 

HT to Seth Godin for the post idea. Here is an excerpt  from his book, The Icarus Deception, which you can buy here.

These cutting-edge strategies and tactics seem to promise a pain-free way to achieve your goals. You can read about a new strategy, find a guaranteed, impersonal way to achieve, point the industrial machine at a new market niche or a new sort of note-taking technique or buzzword and, presto, results without pain. Ideaviruses will be unleashed, points will be tipped, and tails will get longer.

Alas, there isn’t a pain-free way to achieve your goals.

I’ve read these books. I’ve written some of them. And I love them all, but the ideas are not enough without commitment. They’re not enough because strategy is empty without change, empty without passion, and empty without people willing to confront the void.

Throwback Thursday!
I was six years old playing Rachmaninoff’s 3rd piano concerto. Just kidding!! It was one of those Bach easy peasy pieces. That coat looks a little too big on me!

Throwback Thursday!

I was six years old playing Rachmaninoff’s 3rd piano concerto. Just kidding!! It was one of those Bach easy peasy pieces. That coat looks a little too big on me!

An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo
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Excerpt From: Seth Godin. “The Icarus Deception.”

Get it in iBooks here.

Music, sports, and culture

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I grew up in Mexico, where soccer is a big deal. The World Cup is a holiday. When Mexico plays nothing gets done. All eyes are on the tv.

Sports are a function of society. They’re reinforced by cultural norms. Interestingly, soccer has spread through the world like a virus to all of the world. Soccer tipped in Mexico long ago that it’s hard to imagine Mexican culture at a time when soccer wasn’t a part of it.

Music is also a function of culture. The science of ethnomusicology is dedicated to understanding this relationship.

My question is, if sport is a function of culture and music is a function of culture, how do sport and music affect each other? Do they?

If I watch my beloved Rays play does that affect how I perceive or perform music?

I feel that everything that causes an emotion changes the way you express yourself, because music is the manifestation of an emotional thought. Music is the direct link to our emotions.

An experience I may have in sports may not directly change my perception of music, but later I may play something that expresses the joy I feel when the Rays win. 

Portrait of Tracy is an original composition by Jaco. I just heard it for the first time a few days ago and was mesmerized by the beautiful chord progression and melody. 

This piano solo is out of control! Again, this is Christian Sands doing his thing.