In photography, the term "depth of field" is often used to describe what object retains the focus and what is blurred out.
In a long depth of field, everything is sharp and ready for examination; in short dept of field, you will see the sharpness emphasizing the main subject, while the remainder of the picture is blurred out.
It doesn't take long to realize you can apply these principles to the life of a musician. I like to follow Bob Parsons from Go Daddy. He says many wonderfully useful things in plain language. One of his rules is the fact that anything that is watched and measured grows and improves. Guess what? It is true.
If you go to the gym regularly and apply correct techniques, you will build muscle. If you run every day regularly, after some time, you will become faster and leaner. If you practice your guitar regularly, you will eventually get better at it. Same goes for songwriting and well, guess what – pretty much everything else, too.
The truth is that one of the only reasons why we fail at anything is the lack of focus to constantly watch, measure and chip away at achieving whatever we set out to you. Yes, even with constant dedication, you might not be the next Randy Rhoads, but you will definitely get better. It is just how it works.
The depth of field idea will help to remind you that sometimes you have to adjust your focus on what it is that you want to achieve in the upcoming week, month or even years. You have to hone in on it, zoom in on it and not let it out of your sight if you want to see improvements. Blur out the things that might not be as important. You do not have to take them out of the picture completely and you should sometimes treat everything to a long depth of field to take inventory of what things look like. Adjust as necessary and go back in zeroing in on the task.
I find this very helpful, because I must be honest that with the distractions that pull at our senses every day, it is extremely tempting to loose focus. Musicians and artists are very susceptible to this because we already have a lot going on in our heads before regular life steps in, don’t we? It's crowded up there. Use the depth of field to zoom in and keep things in perspective.
Sometimes a simple visualization technique such as this can really bring is great results.
For a minute a day, you can imagine yourself adjusting your depth of field as you see your goal come alive sharper in your vision while the “other” stuff that could distract you is blurred out. It’s very helpful. This exercise allows you to move your thoughts through a process that jump-starts your actually putting priorities together. Otherwise, with so much pulling on us, our minds get so crowded that we never even get off the starting line.
On the last note, this technique can also help remind you that not everything in your picture has to be perfect in order for you to enjoy what you are looking at. Most people, of course, including musicians, wait for something to happen before they can be happy. One simple example is a weekend, a new pedal or a new guitar, a new drummer, gig or whatever. Here’s the truth: This approach never works for more than a minute. It never did and it never will.
I just want you to think about all of the above ideas for a few minutes and see how you can apply it to your development as a musician. Hope they will help out in a few simple ways.
Polish-born Metal Mike Chlasciak has recorded or performed with heavy metal greats Rob Halford, Sebastian Bach, Bruce Dickinson and Axl Rose. Mike is the long-time guitarist for Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford's solo endeavor, Halford. Mike's new album, The Metalworker, is due in spring. For more info, check out his official website and visit him on Twitter.