“If I was going to submit a demo to a record label right now, I’d have a blank white case with big black letters on the cover that say, ‘LISTEN,’” said Adam Levine, vocalist of Maroon 5. This was just one example of the humor that members of Maroon 5infused in their discussion with the instrumental students of GRAMMY Camp®. Levine and Jesse Carmichael visited students in the instrumental performance career track on Tuesday morning to discuss their background as artists. In addition, they provided the Campers with valuable advice about how to be good, proactive musicians.
During their hour-long talk with the various combos, Levine and Carmichael covered everything from getting local shows to finding a great manager (hint: it’s all about trust), and every detail in between. While Adam revealed that he had little formal training as a musician, Jesse is quite learned in music theory and technique. “It would have been a nice tool to have,” said Levine, but both agreed with Carmichael’s statement about music being “very instinctive.” The band was also keen to stress the availability of such online tools as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube. “I sound like an old man, but I didn’t have the You Tube,” said Levine in an old man voice. Levine described the Campers’ peers in high school as a “built in audience” for them to advertise their music. Jesse also added that in the beginning, musicians almost always start without any fans or money. However, it is possible to gain both of these with diligence and hard work. “We had to hustle to sell tickets,” said Levine.
On the musicianship side of things, the band gave many thoughtful insights into what makes a great player. “Simplicity is hardest thing to master,” said Levine. “The greatest musician learns it all, but does something that makes them unique,” said Levine, “Simplicity always wins.”
The biggest surprise was not the inside information provided by the band, but what came after. Towards the end of the discussion, Camp faculty member Jason Goldman suggested that a few of the combos perform songs they had been working on. Adam and Jesse enthusiastically agreed, and so an impromptu mini-showcase was sparked. Three combos got up in front of the band to play an original song. Their guests seemed very impressed with the students’ talent.
The musicians learned some invaluable lessons from Maroon 5’s Levine and Carmichael. “The most important thing is love what you do,” Carmichael stressed. Bringing in successful musicians allowed the campers to see the concepts they are taught put into place right in front of their eyes. It was an experience none of them will forget.