I'd like to weigh in on this a bit. "Making it" - It's an interesting way to put it, but I think I understand what you are talking about. A lot of it has to do with your innate ability to connect with music, the instrument, and truly understand musical concepts, and a lot of it has to do with you level of dedication, and the grit and determination to work hard to overcome whatever mental or physical limitations you might have. And yet a third thing deals with luck, opportunity and timing. (As a side note, did anyone read the article in a recent past issue of the ITG Journal that talked about what all went into picking a candidate from the audition for a slot in the National Symphony? Yikes! THAT is pressure!) To use myself as an example, for my part, I have always had the innate ability and talent to become fairly proficient with whatever I go for where music is concerned - trumpet, singing, drums, piano - I can do all of those things to a certain degree of success. My biggest problems aren't that I lack talent, although I certainly don't have as much talent or innate ability as some people I have come across over the years. My problems stem from not working hard enough or taking the right steps to push what I can do naturally and fairly easily through the ceiling to the level necessary to compete for pro-level jobs. One guy to use as an example of someone who appeared to me to be loaded with talent and natural ability is a fine trumpeter by the name of Paul Lindsey, whom I had the pleasure of rehearsing next to back in 1990 when I was at the Armed Forces School of Music. This was of course before he advanced out - he was clearly a better trumpet player than any of the instructors on staff, and I also believe he's a Julliard Graduate. By the time I met Paul, he had gone through Julliard and was trying to play for the US Navy because the orchestra he had been playing with had folded (I think it was in Venezuela) and flat out, he needed a job. I'd sit there next to him in rehearsals, just amazed by everything he did - his phrasing, his accuracy, his sound, his articulation...the guy would sight read everything we were playing flawlessly, and by the third time through, was bored to the point that he was playing adlibbed flawless counter melodies based on the chord progression. (he tried to explain to me how he was deriving the chord progression based on the few notes and key signature on the page, but it was so far over my head that I just didn't get it.) To me it appeared that Paul was always a natural and playing trumpet at a high level came so naturally to him that it just wasn't a big deal at all. Of course for all I know, he could have actually struggled at one point (I doubt it because he told me about guest soloing with major Orchestras at age 14) and worked his butt of while at Julliard to overcome limitations, but I doubt it - he just oozed talent and ability. Back to me, where I have been, and where I currently am, I don't have the kind of natural ability that Paul and so many others like him have, but at the same time, I didn't take the necessary steps to overcome my mental and embouchure limitations either. Could it have been done? Yep, and I could probably still do it if I was in a different place in my life without all of the strings attached, but I do believe the potential was there, however, it's would also mean that I would probably have to go to some extremes in my effort to overcome those physical and metal barriers. Does that mean that I would "make it" if I did? Who knows? A lot of things have to line up right in order to do that, even if you are a trumpet playing machine. Paul Lindsey is an interesting example - he's always going to be a phenomenal player, but he found himself in the US Navy playing right alongside other mid level players due to circumstances and lost opportunities. In a long-winded way, I guess what I have tried to say is that there is an equation that equals "making it" in a very basic sense: Making it = innate ability + hard work necessary + opportunity "Making it" can be whatever your playing goal is whether it's landing a major symphony job, or gigging on Maynardâ€™s band or anything else in between. "Innate ability" is what you have that comes naturally to you - for me, I have never had to work very hard to have a full, round sound. For others it might be fantastic fingers and for other's it might be not having to work hard to have great articulation. "Hard work necessary" is whatever needs to be stacked on top of your innate ability in order to play proficiently enough to be competitive for the jobs or positions that you want "Opportunity" is what it is - if there are no openings for major symphony slots, it doesn't matter how well you play. This is what accounts for the low percentage of Julliard graduates who are actually working in major symphonies doing what they went to college for. Competition these days is unbelievably fierce - reference, my mention of the ITG Journal article about the National Symphony Orchestra trumpet audition. Opportunity is also the only part of that equation that you can't directly control, so you have to do what you can to prepare and pray that opportunity knocks on your door. Thatâ€™s my take on the subject. Comments?