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The Complexity of Greatness! – Part 2
RockDoc
Becky Bilyeu
April 30, 2019
2

As mentioned in Part 1 of this interview, TAZ (Brandon Niederauer) is not only a dynamic, gifted musician, but an actor as well. TAZ began his acting career in 2016 playing a wunderkind teenage guitarist in the movie production Here Comes Rusty. He played the role of principal guitarist Zac Monneyham in Webbers’ Broadway musical, School of Rock; John Legend, in NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar; and is featured in Spike Lee’s Netflix series, She’s Got to Have it. Hard work was a reoccurring theme I caught as TAZ reviewed his experiences with acting. “I learned many life-lessons from acting. I learned early on that I could not be late and that perseverance was necessary – whether filming in the hot desert or in the freezing cold, getting it right was expected.” TAZ says that regardless of what he was doing, “I always devoted as much time as I could to try to get it right, to try to get things perfect every time. It was a blessing and a curse.

I always wanted to give one hundred percent every time. One major life lesson TAZ says he learned was that whether acting, playing a guitar rift, doing a live performance or a studio recording, “You are going to make mistakes, and you just have to let it go.” Another bit of advice TAZ wanted to emphasize to young musicians is, “Do not expect perfection every time.” TAZ and Jimi Hendrix share the same wavelength when it comes to handling mistakes. Jimi is quoted as saying, “…people don’t notice that your music mistakes are mistakes if you don’t wince! Hit that discordant chord another time deliberately, I tell my students, and people will think “ahh, he *meant* to do that – what a complicated piece to play. Works for other mistakes in life, too!”

Another strong bit of advice TAZ has for someone starting out is to “Just do it!” Perseverance and determination are key elements and TAZ said whether he was doing 12 hour rehearsals or pulling all night gigs, he was determined to do it, even at a very early age.

When asked if he has a particular practice regiment he said that he just sits down and plays. When I referred to his speed and quickness, he said, “I don’t practice speed, I just play. My quickness just happened naturally, I never sat down with a metronome to measure my speed, and it has all just come naturally.” TAZ did say that he has spent a lot of time on theory and on technique, but after he learned those things, he applied them and now he does not have to think about them. He says it is important to “…store that knowledge and keep it stowed away to pull from when needed.” He again emphasized that he works “really really hard”, and has to work rigorously at balancing playing time with school, sports, and what he calls being a “regular kid”. Even at eight years old, TAZ, says he spent “hours and hours and hours” playing the guitar, but it was fun for him and he said that it will be fun for him for the rest of his life. One thing he noticed early on is that not only was he enjoying playing, but others were enjoying listening. That was a big surprise he said and he never dreamed in a million years that he would be where he is today, a noted, highly regarded musician.

The Complexity of Greatness! – Part 2 - TAZWhen asked what is the difference between a good and a great artist, TAZ, with no hesitation said that, “The difference between an artist and an amazing artist is that an amazing artist not only can block out the world and all the bad stuff for himself while playing, but do that for the audience as well.” I think Jimi, one of the most amazing, best said it when he sang, “Scuse me, while I kiss the sky.”

So TAZ, as you pick up that guitar and reach up and kiss the sky, we thank you for taking us with you, and welcome to the complex world of greatness.

(based on interview conducted 02/04/2019)

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What Does Breast Feeding, Orgasms and Music Have in Common?
RockDoc
Becky Bilyeu
April 16, 2019
1

The Rockdoc Becky Bilyeu
What Does Breast Feeding, Orgasms and Music Have in Common?
Oxytocin of Course!

Oxytocin is a hormone and a neurotransmitter that is involved in childbirth, breast-feeding, sexual activity, empathy, trust and relationship building. Oxytocin levels are known to increase during hugging, kissing, and orgasmic experiences. It is not only the Bonding hormone between mother and child, but it binds musicians and audiences as well. Research shows that just listening to music gives an Oxytocin boost.
(Freeman 1995).

There is a strong rationale for the role of music in the formation of social bonds, both in intimate interactions between people and in group musical activities such as concerts, or perhaps just jamming with the band. In a study with humans, singing for 30 minutes was shown to significantly raise Oxytocin levels in both amateur and professional singers, regardless of how happy or unhappy the experience made them. Perhaps Oxytocin explains why new mothers sing lullabies to their newborn babies, why musicians bond with each other, why groupies stalk them, why fans become fanatics, and why couples fall in love at concerts.

If songwriters and musicians could “can” Oxytocin, or emit it over the airways, they would be guaranteed number one hits, as well as a social network full of fans. Maybe Led Zeppelin knew it all along… File under: Whole Lotta Love!

 

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The Complexity of Greatness!
RockDoc
Becky Bilyeu
March 14, 2019
0


The Complexity of Greatness! Of what is greatness comprised: talent, practice, genes, nature, nurture, prodigy, passion? In the gallery of guitar greats reside Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King, Eric Clapton and more recently, TAZ.

Brandon Niederauer, known as TAZ due to his ferocious and unique style of guitar prowess, merges easily into this gallery of greats. He is truly that respected and has performed with many notables such as the Allman Brothers Band, Dereck Trucks, Stevie Nicks, Slash, Dweezil Zapa, Lady Gaga, Spafford, and Dumpstaphunk just to name a few.  TAZ played the role of principal guitarist Zac Monneyham in Webbers’ Broadway musical, School of Rock; John Legend, in NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar; and is featured in Spike Lee’s Netflix series, She’s Got to Have it. He has just returned from the 2019 Jam Cruise where he was a featured MVP on board.

The 15 year-old TAZ began playing the guitar at age 4 when he was greatly influenced by his dad’s album collection. Though confident, TAZ comes across as unpretentious and considerate. When asked if he believed himself to be a prodigy because of his early guitar accomplishments, he immediately responded: “No, I’m just a guitar player, a singer and a lover of music.” To be really great, TAZ says: “Knowledge is the key. Practice has a learning curve and once you pass the learning curve, you can start to really go outside the box and try new things…I take what I have learned from others and apply it to my own style.”  Jimmy Page is quoted as saying “I believe every guitar player inherently has something unique about their playing. They just have to identify what makes them different and develop it” (Guitar World 2006). TAZ most certainly is doing that:

It’s an uphill battle and takes hours and hours of playing, but it is still my favorite thing to do every day after school.  Playing is always fun and it will be for the rest of life…I have always wanted to explore all that I could on the guitar and I never dreamed I would be here at this point…I am very thankful!

After a little laughter and a silent pause, TAZ responds to my questions about balancing school, playing music, maintaining an acting career and having a social life. “I try to keep music and school 100% separate, I play sports. I am on the basketball team. I keep low-key in school.” He runs through his recent schedule and tells me:

I do have a crazy schedule. I go to public school like any other kid, and I make straight A’s. Even if I am out playing until 2 o’clock in the morning, my parents still definitely make sure I am in class and getting straight A’s… School is very important! Knowledge is applied to anything in the world!

TAZ attributes parental nurturing to greatness. When asked if he has advice for those who are parenting gifted musicians, he quickly responds that parents should nurture their kids and don’t push them. “Let them play what they want to play: metal, classical, rock, whatever, as long as it does not hurt anyone or is not violent.” He makes the analogy that raising a musician is much like raising an athlete, supporting them with the right kind of training.  Wise beyond his years, wouldn’t you agree?

When asked with what artist, dead or alive, he would most like to perform, TAZ responded without hesitation:

Jimi Hendrix! There was so much behind every note he played and I would love to know the message behind everything he played, to know what he was going through, and what he was trying to convey. I would love to watch him, to play with him, and try to grasp any advice he might have for me.

When I lamented the early passing of Jimi, TAZ quickly reprimanded me saying, “Jimi was able to do in such a short time, what nobody has ever eclipsed or been able to do…he did so much for the world and he stepped out of the box for the guitar community. He is most instrumental in the progression of guitar.”

TAZ, it is quite evident that you too are now and will continue to be, instrumental in the progression of rock music. Obviously a product of many things: nurture, nature, passion, hard work, and perhaps a little channeling from Jimi, you define the complexity of greatness!

Stay tuned to RockChat where in our next feature article, TAZ will tell us his thoughts on the difference between a good and a great musician, his practice habits, how he handles making mistakes, his best advice for young musicians, and more on his acting career.

(based on interview conducted 02/04/2019)

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Soothing the Savage Soul
RockDoc
Becky Bilyeu
November 28, 2018
1
Soothing the Savage Soul

 

Are you or do you know a musician with dyslexia? If so, you might find that in the music field it is a gift, not a curse. Please check out what Sandy Emmerson, my friend, colleague and dyslexia specialist has to say…


Dyslexia is a form of neurodiversity which is neurological in origin and manifests itself with difficulty in learning to read, write, and spell. Consequences of these difficulties, which occur in a continuum from very mild to very severe, can include problems with reading fluency and comprehension, aversion to the printed word, issues with school socialization and self-esteem to name a few. However, judging by the number of extraordinary musical achievers who are dyslexic such as John Lennon and Cher, there are many potential silver linings that accompany the identification of dyslexia in a budding musician.

Researchers Kent Peter Nelson and Ryan Hourigan recently studied the effect of dyslexia on young musicians. They found that their ability to read the notes and symbols of sheet music was sometimes impacted by dyslexia. The researchers also determined that small group and one-on-one instruction by an empathetic teacher, multisensory instruction, the isolation of musical components, and private lessons could be extremely helpful in unlocking musical talent and ability in these musicians (Nelson and Hourican, 2016).


One of the best-known musicians of all time, Ludwig van Beethoven, is believed to have experienced hardships stemming from the learning differences common to dyslexia. He along with many other phenomenal musicians have more than overcome the difficulties and replaced them with unforgettable harmonies and lyrics. Fleetwood Mac’s Mick Fleetwood claims that he would not be the drummer he is today were it not for his learning differences. Jewel asserts that her dyslexia drove her to work harder toward her goals and accomplishments. Dyslexia is credited to be the reason that award-winning singer and songwriter Carly Simon and her family have gravitated to music for expression. Founder of the Black Crowes Chris Robinson found a sense of consistency in music that was not present in the traditional classroom. Stewart Copeland, Tony Bennett, Noel Gallagher, Ozzy Osbourne, Lou Reed, and a host of many other musicians carry with them stories of the blessings of dyslexia on their lives and musical careers.

The silver linings of dyslexia cannot exist if there were no cloud in the first place. Dyslexia is never easy, but the advantages of alternative chords can be magnificent to the ears of the world.

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♬And the dream of the child is the hope of the hope of the man♬
RockDoc
Becky Bilyeu
November 1, 2018
0
And the dream of the child is the hope of the hope of the man

Songwriters: Brian May / Freddie Mercury / John Deacon / Roger Taylor
A Winter’s Tale lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Becky Bilyeu

The dream of a child is our hope and fortunately for us, our future. Recently I met 13 year old Sumo, an enlightening young man, exiting Todd Rundgren’s Utopia concert with his mom. While chatting a bit with him about the concert, he revealed with fervent face beaming, that his real musical hero was Freddie Mercury and that the music of Queen was his true inspiration and his emotional safety net. Intrigued, I had to know more.

Sumo’s first memories of Queen began when he was just a small child riding in the car with his Dad, who frequently played Queen’s music. From these earliest memories a blueprint was laid and an emotional safety net woven. Sumo confesses he listens to Queen most every day and that when seeking motivation and some feel-good vibes, he likes to listen to “Under Pressure,” “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “Hammer to Fall” and “I Want It All.” His Dad tells me that sometimes Sumo’s taste for Queen involves the old Queen II album, particularly the trilogy “Ogre Battle,”  “Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke,” and “Nevermore.”

Pretty complex substance for a 13 year old, wouldn’t you say? For Sumo, Queen not only inspires him, but their music transports him to a peaceful place, soothes his anger, calms him when anxious, and cheers him when sad. He told me that music in general gives him focus and Freddie Mercury’s powerful voice and personality is the drawing force that pulls him into Queen. Sumo has a real zest for life, whether it is in mastering a new piece on the cello, making a dynamic golf chip, or fully absorbing Freddie Mercury and Queen. Sumo holds first chair cello in 7th grade orchestra, has sung with his choir at Carnegie Hall, and is an exceptional student.

Take it from your RockDoc…it is never too early to begin weaving a musical safety net for our children.  And, I like to think that it is certainly never too late to add more threads to our own.

Sumo wants me to convey to all RockChatters, “If you have not heard Queen, you should start NOW!”

The National Association for Music Education tell us:

Music is a natural and important part of young children’s growth and development. Early interaction with music positively affects the quality of all children’s lives. Successful experiences in music help all children bond emotionally and intellectually with others through creative expression in song, rhythmic movement, and listening experiences. Music in early childhood creates a foundation upon which future music learning is built.

https://nafme.org/about/position-statements/early-childhood-education-position-statement/early-childhood-education/

Until next time….
Rebecca

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Music and Autism
RockDoc
Becky Bilyeu
April 4, 2018
0

The Music and Autism Connection

As defined by Autism Speaks (more…)

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