What to do when you don't know what to do

In a recent sermon, our pastor was discussing what Christians should do when they are in those periods where they are not sure what God’s master plan is for their lives. That is a good perspective. Doing God’s will is not about mystical feelings and fleeces. More often, it is just about doing the things we know we should be doing.

The same is true for other areas of life–music for example. If you want to be a professional musician or just a better musician, there is no magic secret. You just have to start doing the things it takes to get to the next level. In other words, you have to make the commitment to learn and practice.

That goes for all of us. Every day before I try to do big impact things, I do some other things. On the surface, they are mundane things. First, I have family devotions. Then I run for 30 minutes. And then, I practice the piano. These days, I practice about two hours.

That two hours at the piano may not appear that significant when compared to other things I do, but the truth is that those are some of the most important hours in my day. Two hours of practice is not a big deal, but over time, those two hour sessions make a huge difference. Learning is not a sprint. It is a marathon. An investment of two hours a day over a year cannot help but change my music.

I know you get that. Consistent practice is important. But just saying to learn more and to practice more is not enough; you need to be working on the right things and you need to know what things to work on first. Let’s face it–there are a lot of things that would be nice to know. Just on this site, the choices are a bit overwhelming. I have over 20 courses available now as well as online classes. I get questions every day from people asking me what they should work on first.

If you are wondering where you should start too, here is my suggestion for almost everyone: The Chord Toolbox. That is not just because it is my newest course. The reason why The Chord Toolbox is so important is that it teaches the foundation for about every skill I teach. In fact, I produced The Chord Toolbox because I am tired of having to go over the same information about chords at the beginning of every course I do. I wanted a definitive starting point and springboard I could point people toward.

The Chord Toolbox defines practically every chord that is used in modern music. There are two parts (each an hour long). Part I covers triads and 10 foundational 4-note chords. Part II covers extended chords (chords with 5 to 7 notes) that are derived from the foundational 4-note chords). With the exception of modern classical music which is often designed to intentionally break the rules, you will almost never find a chord in modern music that is not explained in The Chord Toolbox.

You can buy Part I and Part II separately and they each cost $9.99 as an instant download. They come with worksheets and an outline. The goal is to get you to the point where you can identify any chord when you see it and build them yourself.

Don’t get me wrong. The Chord Toolbox will not teach you how to use the chords as well as you might like. Advanced topics such as functional harmony and voicing are required for that. But regardless, The Chord Toolbox is a great place to start and a great foundation to build on. It won’t wear you or your wallet out either.

So what should you do when you want to grow as a musician but don’t know how to go about it? Here is my best advice: do The Chord Toolbox. Spend a few months learning those chords. You will be happy you did for the rest of your musical life.