Dear Mr. Hood,
I have been enjoying your music for some time, and I love the way you mix intricate musical harmonies with meaningful lyrics. You may remember me from your show in Boston. I played violin for Back Into Blue.
I have been studying violin for 9 years, and also play guitar, piano, drums and sing. I am in high school, and I am considering colleges to continue my musical education. I write and record songs, and would like to hone and refine this skill for God’s glory. Could you give me some insight from your experience about these upcoming years?
- What was the best decision you made in the pursuit of your music career?
- What is the one thing you wish you had done differently which you learned by experience?
- What advice would you give someone like me?
Thanks for the time and advice you might be able to give. Believe me, I will consider your words of wisdom carefully, because I need all the help I can get!
I absolutely remember meeting you in New Hampshire and performing with you at Cafe 939 in Boston. Your email is timely in that your request forcefully nudges me to put into words what has been swimming freestyle laps in my mind for some time now. I found that I had a lot to say. Not a big surprise, coming from me! With your permission, I’m posting your letter and my response to the Ryanhood blog.
What was the best decision you made in the pursuit of your music career?
My first instinct is to say that Ryan is the best decision I’ve made in my music career. He has matched or exceeded every ounce of work, drive, and heartsweat that I’ve put into the pursuit of this dream. When I fall, when I lose heart, when I’m sick onstage or have lost my voice, Ryan is at my right to carry on until I come back to life.
I played in a band throughout highschool and college called Easyco, and though I loved our music, and loved the guys in the band (one of whom was my brother), we didn’t share the same ear for the kind of music we wanted to make, or the same sight for the direction we wanted to go. And since, of all the guys in the group I had the strongest drive to succeed at playing music, I became the leader. I felt alone in trying to pull this heavy thing, this difficult dream to the place I wanted it to go.
So, finding someone to share the load with, who complements my abilities and my flaws, was a revelation. Ryan is level-headed, business-minded. He has an easy way with people, and knows how to measure his words in a way that creates allies wherever we go. He has an ear for the production of music, for the perfecting of harmony and rhythm. Conversely, I am exuberant, passionate, and creative, but also somewhat of a loose cannon. I contribute a lot of musical and visual raw material, but often struggle to complete, to tighten, to finish. And in this, Ryan has been my perfect counterpoint.
I make it sound like a dreamy, exciting process, and it CAN be that. But it is just as often slow and difficult. Our partnership tries our patience, our egos, and our communication skills. But having Ryan to walk beside has been overwhelmingly worth the friction and struggle of partnership.
It seems to me that if you’re a solo musician, or if you choose to play violin in an orchestra, or if you choose to pursue music in some form outside of the context of a band or duo, you might feel that this doesn’t apply to you. “Not everyone has a Ryan,” a friend said to me. But here’s the universal application: surround yourself with good people, encouraging people, people with similar visions, people who believe in the possibility of what you’re trying to do. Surround yourself with people who have that gift of being both brutally honest and deeply encouraging in the same breath. Find people who can do the things that you can’t, and partner with them.
The biggest gift Ryan has given me is that he’s always believed in the possibility of things. And it’s so incredibly important, especially when doors seem shut and nothing seems easy. A strong desire mixed with a strong sense of possibility may be the only things strong enough to get you through those times.
But I’ll say more about that when I answer your next two questions.