• My childhood story and the beginning of HearandPlay.com

    in Personal Blog,Self-Improvement

    I grew up relatively poor (I use that word carefully because there were many people worse-off than us). I didn’t quite live in a war zone — but we certainly weren’t blessed with nicely-manicured, green grass and automatic turning signals at each crosswalk either.

    So somewhere right in the lower-middle I guess you can say.

    Basically, I grew up in the hood. The more universally-accepted word for it is the “inner city.” In many interviews, I’m known as the inner city kid who did this ___ and did that ____.

    Now, there’s nothing wrong with the hood. I know many successful people that refuse to leave the hood, despite their abilities to buy million dollar houses in the hills.

    But having lived in situations where on the way home in the car with my mom and sister (usually after dark), the only thought in my head would be how fast we have to walk to get from the carport to our front door — well, that can make a kid dream of life on the other side of the tracks.

    Other kids couldn’t wait to get home to play Nintendo and here I was — the man of the house at a whopping 10 years old. Perhaps, I wouldn’t have been so worried if gangs of 30 or more weren’t meeting at every corner of our housing complex. This was the “LBC” (Long Beach City) you hear about in Snoop Dogg songs. Heck, it wouldn’t be uncommon to see Snoop himself hangin’ out.

    Where were cops in our area? We had some guys that walked around as security but they might as well have been a part of the gangs. Things got better over time, though.

    Anyway… so having come from there, I’ve always had this huge drive to be successful. Some would have called me precocious. I was always a dreamer.

    I remember joining this national organization called the “Olympia Sales Club” when I was 9. (I recently googled them and it appears they are no longer with us). Back then, I’d sell stuff out of a catalog and make $2 per item. So if I got an adult to buy 3 items, I’d make $6 bucks.

    It wasn’t long before I had family and friends buying from me. And then, having absolutely no knowledge of network marketing, I had started something strikingly similar without even knowing it…

    I had kids selling outta these catalogs (I’d make black and white copies of the original catalog for $.02 cents/page) and I would give them $.50 cents to $1 per sale. In my mind, if I made $2 an item and I gave away $.50 cents – $1 to my “reps,” then I could make money without working. And if I chose to work, I’d get the whole $2.

    Needless to say, I was in business! All in all, I probably made just shy of $200 bucks with that venture. I would start it up every summer for the next two years, in fact.

    When that got old, I recruited my next door neighbor to start a business with me. We would connect our bikes to one wagon, which was borrowed from the other neighbor on the left side (leverage — other people’s stuff). We’d connect both of our bikes to one wagon using jump ropes.

    Since our complex was pretty big (like it’s own little community) with over 200 apartments, there were bench stops all throughout it. Probably around 8 or so.

    We’d get kids to pay us a quarter for a ride from one stop to the next. If they paid a dollar, they’d get a round trip. We made some good money in this biz and then spent all the money buying pogs.

    I got a little mature and wanted to start something that I could make more than $75 bucks with. I was around 12 when I started flipping through penny saver booklets. I mean, every Wednesday when they were delivered, I got a kick outta looking at the business opportunity ads in the back.

    “Make $12,000 in 3 weeks” Call 555-555-5555.

    “No experience. No requirements. Make $50 an hour” Call 555-555-5555.

    “Stop working. Live Your Dreams” Call 555-555-5555.
    These ads made me feel good. I really enjoyed reading them (…call me weird, I don’t care). In fact, when we’d go to office supply stores, I would love to run back to the office furniture department and visualize how my office would look when I become a big businessman. I loved the classic oak look of the desks and bookshelfs. Oddly enough, today, I have the same kind of office I once dreamed of.

    One day, I said to myself, “I’m tired of reading these ads… I’m gonna call one.” The recruiters on the other end were so surprised a 12 year-old was interested and invited my mom and I to a meeting. It turned out to be Avon.

    My mom signed above the dotted line for me. I was the rep, but she was responsible since I wasn’t 18 yet.

    I actually did quite well with Avon. I started building my downline (that means getting people signed up as Avon reps under me so that I can get commissions when they make sales). My grandma signed up under me. Then my mom signed up as her own rep under my grandma.

    I was headed towards President’s Club!

    This got old, especially in high school. It’s hard to explain to my guy friends that I sell cosmetics and perfumes (even though their mom’s started being really good customers before I lost interest). Plus, I was growing up. I honestly didn’t know what leverage was back then but something in my mind told me that I could do better with less work involved.

    Now there’s nothing wrong with door-to-door sales. In fact, it taught me how to be a powerful salesman today! That and speaking in front of church congregations at a young age (I’ll save this for another post).

    I was also a childhood musician. Yup yup, I had been playing piano since the age of 7… all by ear. No sheet music. Never had a teacher. I was able to hear a song and could pick it out in about 20 minutes. Then as I got better and better, I’d be able to play a new song in 10 minutes — then 5 minutes. Nowadays, when I hear a song, it’s not uncommon for me to play it for someone right on the spot.

    So of course, being invited to play at churches caused me to gain some local visibility in the church as the “young musician who can play anything.” Parents started asking me to teach their kids. I had about 10 students at one point.

    Again, having not read many business books, I didn’t know what leverage was but I had this natural inclination to do something once that could be used over and over.

    So I basically started making these little workbooks that taught them the same chords and scales I had learned on my own. I researched “technical” ways to explain what I had knew and played naturally. By that time, I was on AOL 2.0 crawling on a 28k modem. Eventually, I had created 5 workbooks.

    Now I could make them pay for a book and teach them out of it. This way was much better than going off the top of my head or just teaching them songs and skipping all the basics.

    Then a crazy idea came to me. What if I can write my books so that people could learn on their own? Then they wouldn’t even need ME. I could go play pop warner football or something. And I did.

    (Don’t get it twisted. People tend to question young business kids. They think we didn’t have a childhood. It’s the opposite. We don’t live and breath our businesses — cough cough, ok we probably do — but in my situation, I was also in student government, band, gospel choir, and youth groups. Instead of wasting time watching a lot of tv, I devoted it to researching and writing workbooks).

    I started putting fliers in grocery stores and laundromats. The phone never rang.

    I even tried an ad in the same penny saver that got me interested in Avon back in the day. The phone never rang.

    So those piano workbooks just sat around while I focused on other things like a new shopping site called Shop2x.com. That didn’t last too long but I’m still grateful for my first $800 check, which came from sales of products I had recommended through my site. Shop2x wasn’t my passion though.

    I had something going with those piano lessons I had abandoned for a good year — so I was led to focus back on that. That’s when I started HearandPlay.com in August of 2000. I was 17-years old.

    What would happen over the span of 2 years would begin to change my life forever. Then what happened the next 3 years beat that! Every year continues to beat my previous year.

    You’ll just have to watch out for future posts to see how Hearandplay.com evolved. :)

    What is your passion? Are you living it? Have you tried other things that could pay off financially but just didn’t interest you? What have you dreamed of?

    See ya next time!

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    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

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    { 12 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Kudzi

    u said that at times u can play songs for people on the spot….so does that mean u have perfect pitch????

    Reply

    2 Jermaine

    @kudzi: Actually I don’t. There’s a big misconception that playing songs right on the spot requires perfect pitch. This is not true. Only about 1 in 10,000 people have perfect pitch. It is the ability to hear exact notes. What I have is great relative pitch. I know what’s going on in my head. I hear distance. I can hear a 2-5-1 because of the relationships between those 3 chords. Then when I get to the piano, all I have to do is identify the key center of the progression or song.

    This blog post says it best:
    http://www.hearandplay.com/main/how-to-listen-effectively-the-basics-of-relative-pitch

    Thanks,
    JG

    Reply

    3 BRIAN AKA TRUMUSIC1SOUL

    WHAT AN INSPIRIRATION

    Reply

    4 Kirby D Trim

    This is amazing, Jermaine! I can’t believe it… We’re the same age!!! I’ve played bass for the last 18 years, and keys for about 16…and guitar for about 19. Your tesimony is encouraging. I will continue to be consistent and work harder at it!

    Reply

    5 Kudzi

    ok, i understand but its jus that my piano teacher is also a church musician and has perfect pitch and the guy is a BEAST he said he never used to have until he actually started listening to notes really hard then got it when he was about 14!!!!!…he can turn the T.V. on and play along with the commercials, and knows the key to any song after 2 SEC, perfect pitch has jus made his musical life so much more easy!!!! its jus something that i i die to have and im 19 but i pose one question, am i wasting my time trying to attain the unatainable?????…..every day i sit at the piano and practice my songs, progresions, chords and then i listen to a note for about thirty minutes, just one note every day moving in fourths!!!! and ive been doing this for about a month but there is no change, but i know that i can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!!!!! so do i proceed or face the myth that you have to be born with it???????

    I would also like to thank you becuz last year i puchased GK202 and GK300, and im still wrkin on UrbPro600( the chords are fire), and i hope to purchase ministrey musician vol 1……how did you get jason white….wow…….if ya’ll get Kevin Bond ima DIE!!!!..LOL

    Reply

    6 Jermaine

    Kudzi,

    You said after 2 seconds he gets it? Does he poke around the piano and find the key within 2 seconds because that’s why I do, but I still don’t consider myself to have perfect pitch until in my head, I know without a shadow of a doubt that what I hear is “F” or what I hear is “Ab.” I might be able to get close because of a song that I’ve engrained in my head that’s in the key of Ab, but it’s not 100% of the time. I have to sit down and hit a note that I think it is, then immediately adjust within seconds.

    If this is what he’s doing, then I’m not sure if that is what I’m calling perfect pitch. You don’t need perfect pitch to play by ear. You need relative pitch FIRST… then the acquirement of perfect pitch can come next to put you over the top.

    Thanks for your comments and word words! Keep em coming!

    P.S. – We’re trying to get Kevin bond!

    Reply

    7 Kudzi

    NO…. he doesnt touch the keyboard at all…he knows it in his head, i remember we went to minister at a church together last year, and for some reason his keyboard didnt work so the preasure was on me to lead, i couldnt figure out the key of any song at time, i couldnt even do it to save my life, people had to tell me the key all the time!!!! he was sitting next to me and i remember a lady began to sing “open the flood gates of heavan”….as soon as she said “OPE……” he said to me C#,, with out even touching the keyboard and on top of that he told me the song structure…1 to the 5 to the 6 etc……….and he wasnt even the one playing!!!!!! his arms were folded the whole time!!!!!

    P.S. the funny thing is he actually met Mike Bereal in june of this year!!!! He is in a group called Voice of Africa, and they ministered at the West Angeles COGIC, at the end of the service they jus tlked about the usual …MUSIC, and he also lives next door to Shaun Martin( Kirk Franklins MD).,…AND WHEN IS THE NEXT URBAN PRO COMING OUT??????????

    Reply

    8 Jermaine

    Wow, that’s awesome Kudzi! With that said, he has perfect pitch! Lol, I thought you meant within 2 seconds after sitting down at the piano but if he’s calling out keys without even touching the piano and doing it consistenly with accuracy, then he’s got it!

    urban pro 650… another 2 months.

    All the best Kudzi,
    Jermaine

    Reply

    9 stacey

    Please let us know when the Urban Pro 650 is out,I want to get it!!:) thanks and the lessons are veeery good,God bless you man :D

    Reply

    10 Canaan

    I really appreciate you and your organization, your resources has been a blessing and a big transformation to my playing.
    thanks a lot……

    Reply

    11 proxpy

    thanks boss.JG yu are just great..I rate yu five star. stay blessed

    Reply

    12 Marjorie Davis

    You’re an awesome young man and it’s good to read your biography (you should write a book-If you already haven’t. And if you have, I want it). So, you were 17 when you started Hear and Play in 2000; I think I’ve been a customer since then. I have so many of your products and now, 2016, I’m about to finally organize them all in my “music room” and go from there (with immersing my mind and soul with the love that I once had for music). So many things have happened in my life, but I feel that I’ve come full circle and with the Good Lord and you leading me, I won’t go wrong! Thank you Jermaine Griggs, you are a Godsend and an inspiration. May He continue to bless you and your family abundantly!

    Reply

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