(Recent threads and posts about "what makes one a professional?" caused me to reflect [not much, because I could plagiarize from myself, kinda like Handel] and [re]post the following.) Back at the family farm I came across my notes from Digicon 85, an International Arts Conference on Computers and Creativity held in Vancouver, BC in 1985. At the time I was highly active in the AFM: Business Agent for my Local, ROPA delegate (Regional Orchestra Player's Association) and RMA (Recording Musician's Association). There was widespread paranoia over how synthesizers might destroy the live music and recording industry as a whole. ARP had unleashed a danged realistic sounding string machine, polyphonic synthesizers and samplers threatened to displace wind musicians, and the MOOG synthesizer had been specifically banned as a musical instrument in L.A. local 47 and in the Federation's Electronic Media Agreements. The newly developed MIDI offered the opportunity and threat for a single musician to lay down a full orchestral track in one take. Michael Boddicker complained about an 11 millisecond time delay in synching up MIDI instruments. Robert Moog presented the new Kurzweil keyboard, with real weighted keys, and tones sampled from a Steinway (the upper register) a Boesendorfer (the low end) and a Yamaha (middle C). The Yamaha DX7 was new on the market, and there was even some music notation software displayed, which would have threatened copyists too, if not for the poor resolution of dot-matrix printers. The Amiga computer was the PC of choice, having a built-in MIDI interface and graphics. Distracted by my duties, I paid more attention to the fantasy of seducing on of the cuter volunteers than to the symposium on Acceleration of the Artist's Learning Curve. I took scanty notes. Chaired by Tom Hudson, the panel included Bill Buxton on the panel, President for the Computer Music Association, David Em, pioneer computer graphic artist, and Robin King, Director of the Computer Graphics Lab, Sheridan College, Ontario. The presentation of Robin King stuck pretty much intact in my memory (despite the cute volunteer), but it was good to find the notes again. He based his presentation on the work of psychologist George Kelly, who had proposed the idea of a hierarchy of mental constructs used as templates by, well, everybody. He spoke of the progression of an artist through four stages (and hinted at a fifth), and I wrote that stuff down, and Robin King was kind enough to use two scholarly terms for each of the stages, and then to translate them into language this distracted Vulgano Brother could understand (thinking as I was about another VB [Volunteer Babe]). The first stage is that of "Technique and Methodology" or "Classes," that period where we are, well, first obsessive and compulsive about practicing and equipment and listening to recordings and getting immersed into our art. The second stage is that of "Characteristics of Artist/Habitat" or Relations." This is where we are actually living our dream, getting paid for our art and grateful for affording cheap beer with our artist friends. The third stage is "Status/Professionalism" or "Systems." This is the point when we can start complaining, and really scrambling. We might ask ourselves questions like: "Why did they get that gig, how can I turn this into some money, how can I better promote myself, how do they afford those cars, that house?" It looks negative in print, but this is the condition real working artists live in. Symphony Societies and recording producers hate working with people in this class--they start demanding "fair wages and working conditions," want medical and dental coverage, a pension--they want normal lives! The fourth stage is "Moral Values" (honesty and integrity) or "Implications." This is the point that the artist becomes a philosopher . The fifth, implied stage is "Transformation." My point is, that if we are concerned about stage three and use that as our unit of measure, we miss out on stage four and five. To be frank, I reached stage four while earning my daily bread locked in a stage three environment, and it almost killed me. Trusted friends stole intellectual property and glowing reviews for the advancement of their own phase three careers, taking credit for my work. The old joke we had at the Musician's Union about "having a great job except having to deal with musicians all the time" became true, and cost me my marriage, my kids. Taking a day job saved my life, cut my pay, but gave me the opportunity to share what I know without having to fight with someone over it. I like stage four, and TM gives me an opportunity to share to the community with stage five Moderators and stage five Artists in Residence. Great news! There are tons of stage four (and five) folk that post on TM! I am amazed at the depth of knowledge, of information that is posted here by members of the community! I am amazed that the most naive questions can produce the most profound responses! I am thankful that, by and large, we are a stage four community. I can't wait until we hit stage five!