“One of my Berklee professors, one of my favorite things that has stayed with me from my time there, said ‘you know, Nick, a bad day playing music is still better than a good day doing just about anything else.'” — Nick Morrison
This episode’s guest is an Amazon #1 bestselling author and a professional musician, composer, teacher, voice actor, YouTube creator, actor, and a music and media consultant from Calgary Alberta. He’s toured throughout the United States, Canada, and Japan as a guitarist, worked as a session musician, and as a writer and composer for Warner Bros, Universal Studios, Sony, MTV, ABC, NBC, HGTV, and HBO, among others. He was educated at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where he studied guitar performance and music business management.
In 2021 he began writing guitar instructional books and continues to bring his love of the instrument to as many people around the world as possible. His name is Nick Morrison, and our discussion runs the gamut from music, to sound design, to audio branding and everything in between.
As always, if you have any questions for my guest, you’re welcome to reach out through the links in the show notes. If you have questions for me, just visit www.audiobrandingpodcast.com where you’ll find all sorts of ways to get in touch. Plus, subscribing to the newsletter (on the www.audiobrandingpodcast.com webpage) will let you know when the new podcasts are available.
Getting into Sound
We start things off with a look back at Nick’s earliest impressions of sound, and he tells us about his mother’s lifelong love of music and his happy memories of growing up in a musical family. He talks about the surprising influence the original Super Mario Bros. had on his lifelong career and how it inspired him from an early age to devote himself to music. “It was at that point that I really decided,” he tells us, “that I was like ‘I’m going to do something with music.’ I didn’t have the vocabulary then to know specifically what I wanted to do, but I knew that I wanted to get into sound.”
The Cat and the Piano
“A cat can jump on a piano,” Nick jokes as we talk about his early music lessons, from the violin to the piano to his first guitar, “and it’ll sound good.” He tells us about the unique musical challenges and rewards that each instrument offers and how he’s come to embrace his role as a teacher and focuses now on helping people who might be returning to their love of music after a long career elsewhere. “What can I give to those students,” he says, describing his approach to teaching new musicians, “that in those fifteen minutes they can get the most out of the time they have with their instrument as possible?”
Making Music Online
We also take a look at remote learning, online groups, and how our post-COVID shift to virtual lessons and meetings has changed the musical landscape. “I can’t think of a single industry,” Nick says, “that doesn’t have at least some computer animation or computer modeling or computer monitoring or computer connectivity to keep us in touch and to help us with our jobs.” He gives us a few examples, such as how his Guitar Dojo Facebook group works to make learning about music fun for its members and listeners alike. “My mission statement,” as he puts it, “is to make music fun again.”
With Music and Sound
The conversation turns to some of the old computers we grew up with, and how MIDI controllers and digital sampling have transformed the creative process. We talk about some of the television and advertising themes he most admires, and about how licensed compositions compare to life on the musical road. “I’d rather be playing guitar,” he says, “writing music, talking about guitar, teaching guitar, composing music… something to do with music and sound and the thing that I love.”
- Nick’s memories of sound and experiences with video game music
- How different instruments can result in different creative approaches
- Nick’s focus as a guitar instructor on helping students reconnect to music
- Teaching and performing music in the age of virtual learning
- The blurry lines between modern commercial and creative music
Connect with the Guest
Nick’s Morrison Media Website: https://morrisonmediagroup.com/
Nick’s Guitar Dojo Website along with a free copy of Nick’s book Essential Chords and Scales for Guitar for new email list subscribers: https://guitardojo.ca/
Follow Nick Morrison on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/theguitardojo/
Connect with Nick Morrison on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jnmorrison/
Follow Nick Morrison on Twitter: https://twitter.com/samuraifingers/
Subscribe to Nick Morrison on YouTube: https://www.facebook.com/groups/theguitardojo
Nick’s book Guitar Fretboard Memory Magic: Painlessly Memorize All the Notes on Your Neck Forever for Instant Recall: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08T43569M/
Nick’s book Basic Music Theory for Guitarists: The Plain English Guide for Beginner to Intermediate Guitar Players: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09BGN8Z4S/
Stay tuned next week for the second half of the interview as we discuss a surprising study about how much of a difference sound makes, advice on everything from building a professional network to borrowing against royalties, and some of Nick’s latest books and upcoming projects.
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This interview episode was very skillfully made to sound beautiful by the talented Humberto Franco.