Mother Monster: How Lady Gaga Created Her Fame

In a recent study by web-based software company Vocus and digital analyst Brian Solis, the criteria for being an online “influencer” was tested and measured. 237 open-ended comments from respondents indicated that the respondents perceived the difference between influence and popularity as such: “Influence drives, motivates, is steadfast, and causes people to take action, while popularity is hip, perhaps amusing and wanes easily amid a fickle audience.” From very early in her career, Lady Gaga built an impregnable brand by choosing a set of values that she continues to stand for today. For example, she strongly believes in positivity and demonstrates this often to her fans by rejecting negative questions or connotations by the media. She also stands strong against bullying, a problem that she herself faced early in her life (this personal relationship with an issue adds strength and sincerity to her brand image). Though her fashion sense is quite eccentric, her clothing choices are powerful not just because of their strangeness but because of what they represent: being your truest self, and being proud to show everyone exactly who you are.

When asked a question at a Google seminar about her new song about this very subject, “Born This Way,” Lady Gaga said that, “Born this way is about saying this is who I am. This is who the fuck I am.” She went on to say that, “More importantly, the song Born This Way is this, like, gateway drug for the album and trying to say in the most literal and honest way that when I go to the monster ball, I see something so fearless and so special in my fans, but I also see something afraid, something that I was, something that was unsure. I really encourage people to look into the darkness and look into places that you would not normally look to find uniqueness and specialness because that’s where the diamonds are hiding.” These sound like the words of an influencer, not simply someone who is popular. She is fighting for her values, and fighting for her fans.

If you know exactly what your values are and you remain strong in the quest to portray them, chances are that many others will share similar values. This is where Gaga’s fame truly comes from. Just as the Grateful Dead created a culture and community of Deadheads, Gaga has created her massive community of “little monsters.” On the surface, little monsters appear to simply be crazy Lady Gaga fanatics that love her music. But they are so much more. The little monsters aren’t all that different from some infamous radical political groups, like the Nazis or the Soviet Union. They are a large group of people that radically believe in a similar set of values, and in this case, Lady Gaga has set those values in stone.

This is a road to fame that many artists have yet to take. However, it is arguable that Lady Gaga’s path to fame is really no different than anyone’s path to fame throughout history. Most artists who are still remembered today are known not simply because of their art, but because they represent something larger than their art—a system of beliefs, something to stand for. They were leaders of a community like the Grateful Dead, or they were leaders of a generation of political and moral thought like Bob Dylan was in the 60’s.

Gaga is no different. She simply has used different tools to achieve her fame, like the internet—Facebook, Twitter, social networking. And she’s lucky. She now has the power to mobilize her followers whenever and however she wants. Her little monsters network (www.littlemonsters.com) is essentially a gigantic home for anyone who believes in what the little monsters represent. According to cbsnews.com, Lady Gaga will be releasing singles from her new album, “Born This Way,” through the online game “FarmVille.” Cbsnews.com also specified that roughly 46 million people worldwide play FarmVille every month, which “might be a social media jackpot for Gaga.” While Kennedy used TV to spread his message, Gaga will use littlemonsters.com. Brilliant.

In the end, it’s not about Lady Gaga. It’s not about Lady Gaga’s music. Lady Gaga has simply turned herself into a leader of a pack, a vehicle for a message, a speaker for her community. She is the president of the little monsters. She is Mother Monster. If we all work diligently to establish our own value system and spread the message as part of our brand, maybe someday we can all become leaders who change the world through with our art.

Tendonitis Heads Up

Unfortunately, the subject of how to cure tendinitis has been on my mind a lot lately since I have been playing music nonstop and have been experiencing some pain.While I was able to beat my tendinitis the first time around, this recent resurgence (among others in the past few years) made me very nervous and I decided to start a quest to find out how to get rid of it once and for all. There is still only one true way to ensure that you do not get tendon pain and problems: to do everything you possibly can to maintain and prevent the problems before they ever happen. If you’ve read my post about how you are an athlete than you know what I mean.

This time around I have discovered even more new ways to combat the problem of tendinitis. This is basically just a warm-up post to give you a heads up: in my next post, I will describe to you the new routine that I have been following which has led to what I would personally call miraculous results. Before I started following this routine, it often felt like tendinitis was similar to breaking out of a prison cell. It was like you had to be patient for years, constantly digging an inch more every day until you could finally escape. Sometimes, the guards would catch you before you could escape and you would have to start all over again. This new method that I have been following has led to the fastest recovery time I’ve ever experienced with my numerous bouts of tendinitis. I only hope that you can experience similar results! More soon!

Left Hand Technique: Taylor Eigsti

While I was at the Brubeck Institute, in Stockton, CA, I had the priviledge of working with a great young pianist, Taylor Eigsti. Taylor is one of my favorite people to study with and I go back to him for lessons whenever I feel in need of some inspiration. Whenever I feel bored with a subject, he instantly finds a way to challenge me. I have lots of great ideas and exercises that I will eventually get around to posting about that I have learned from Taylor, but I wanted to take a look at this video of him playing “Like Someone In Love.” You’ll notice that throughout the video he uses lots of great runs in his left hand to fill up space, acting as exciting, modern-sounding fills.

How to Sound Like Oscar Peterson

For all you jazz pianists out there, I’d like to point out a few simple techniques that Oscar Peterson commonly uses:

1. Bluesy licks – If you listen closely, you’ll notice that his lines characteristically have little bluesy inserts within them, or often at the very beginning. I would recommend transcribing some of these and playing them at the beginnings of your lines.

2. Arpeggiated lines – Oscar often plays quick arpeggios up simple chords. Listen carefully and you’ll notice this happening often in his improvisation. The best part is it’s not that hard to do once you practice it a little bit. For starters, try practicing a g minor triad arpeggio and running it quickly up and down the piano over a C7 chord.

3. Oscar regularly uses riffs and repeats them over and over to build tension and interact with the band.

Eventually I’ll post a video to give you a better idea of how these techniques work. See if you can pick out the different ways he uses the above techniques in this video of C Jam Blues:

Something else that you’ll notice is that Oscar had a very strong grasp of how to play like other pianists. In my opinion, the work you put into practicing the styles of those who came before you will contribute greatly to your ability to discover your own way of improvising. Notice who Oscar’s influences are in the video below. Oscar wouldn’t have had Brad Mehldau on his list, so by listening to Brad, you’re already developing your own style. I highly suggest you watch this video and think about what it means to you:

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How to Get Rid of Tendonitis

As a jazz pianist who suffered from severe tendonitis, I want this category to serve as a place where musicians can refer for help with their own personal arm problems. The following posts in this category will outline steps that you can take in order to cure your arm problems.

You know you have it bad when your mom has to help you get your clothes on. When I was a freshman in high school, I would wake up, dial my mom on the phone, and she’d come help me get dressed. My pain was so bad that I couldn’t manage to pull a shirt over my head. Over the course of the next few years, I saw every type of doctor imaginable, as well as exploring alternative options which included acupuncture, rolfing, chiropractics, Alexander Technique, personal trainers, and probably some others that I’m forgetting at the moment.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Hopefully soon I will have some other arm pain experts helping me out with this category as well.