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Operation: Music Maker

The anatomy of a musician includes passion, perseverance and a lot more

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WYATT GAINES
  • Wyatt Gaines

I've had an undying love for music since I first heard No Doubt's "Tragic Kingdom" album back in the '90s.



Since then, I've wondered: what makes a good musician? What characteristics do most musicians share?

Essentially, what's the anatomy—physical or otherwise—of a musician?

After speaking with hundreds of musicians over the years, I've learned a lot. While many musicians share the same passion and love for music, everyone's different.

My vocal performances of "Just a Girl" may remain restricted to my car, but delving into the anatomy of musicians may inspire you to take that wild hair of an idea for a song and turn it into a passionate release. And until there's an actual operation to transplant musical talent, some of us may just have to continue enjoying their beautiful sounds from the crowd.

~Mad Science~

"In the 'regular' or 'normal' process, usually I would sit down with an idea or Andrew would bring an idea and have the bare bones of it. The first melody or the hook. We usually start playing that multiple times as the two of us, improve writing parts and seeing what sticks. It's a bit of mad science, seeing what bubbles up to the surface." — Garrett Lamp, Stubborn Son

~Grasshopper's Grace, aka Nimble Fingers~

~A Solid Column, aka Good Posture~

"I remember taking a vocal lesson in Denver with a guy who was an American Idol finalist. He spoke of a posture you should have on stage. It sucks, it's the dorkiest posture, but it's the best way to sing. Trying to find the blend of when you can sit back and fall into this posture, opening up your vocal chords and letting your chest resonate and not looking like a total dweeb." — Stelth Ulvang, The Lumineers

~Legs of Steel~

"I was on a different record label and loved what I did, but it wasn't jazz, they gave me a lot of crap. I remember sending Prince some clips of me singing jazz standards just on the piano. He said, 'This is you, this needs to be heard.' Between my dad and Prince, I had to stand up for myself."Kandace Springs, jazz singer

~Smiles, given & received~

"Sometimes traveling can get tiring then you play that show and see the faces smiling and singing along." — Ryan Scott, Monophonics

~Interested Ears~

"I would say, the most important thing is listening to music, listening to all sorts of music, listening to who you like and the greats. Trying to emulate them and also trying to be yourself. I think that you can learn just as much, if not more, from just listening to music rather than sitting down and playing and practicing. Expose yourself to a wide variety of people and musicians. Even within jazz, there are so many different types of music and styles. You can spend days just going through all the different types of jazz." — Laz Glickman, jazz pianist

~Pumpin' Pipes, aka Good Lungs~

~Rebel blood~

"When I was starting out, I never thought about whether it was country or not. Growing up in a small town in the south, I was always around country and southern rock and gospel, those things are ingrained in me. When I was a teenager, I was rebellious, I wanted to listen to my own music. I loved listening to Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Nirvana. I liked listening to hip-hop and rap and later on Matchbox 20 and Hootie and the Blowfish. When I learned the guitar, I wanted to learn those songs. Years later it melded with what was already in my blood." Corey Smith, country musician

~Energy (natural or otherwise)~

"People think I'm crazy, I start drinking coffee at 9 o'clock at night, take several shots of whiskey, dress up maybe a little bit. We're blessed with an audience that really shows you the energy— it's hard not to be energetic back." — Dennis Casey, Flogging Molly

~A Lion's Share of Love~

"An undying passion and love for it [music], no matter what. That's one of the things. Survival has a lot to do with versatility and multiple interests. I have a lot of passions for different things. jazz was my first love. I branched out and learned a lot of different styles. Moving to LA and working in the studios, doing TV shows, really gave me a lot of diversity and experience. Passion, love and versatility." David Goldblatt, jazz pianist

~Perseverance~

"I think patience is number one, in any trade and any art. Not letting the difficult of the past deter you from climbing the mountain. That's what I've done with music in general. I've only been a guitar player professionally for the past few years, but perseverance and patience." — Matthew "Rev" Rieger, The Lil Smokies

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