Music is not Work

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Patric_Bernard, Mar 29, 2008.

  1. Hags888

    Hags888 Pianissimo User

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    Aug 31, 2006
    Corpus Christi, TX
    Patric,

    I think I understand what you mean. Most professional musicians (I would guess) decide to pursue a career in music, because they enjoy doing it. But, there are definitely days when it feels like "work" to use your definition of monotonous, "back-breaking" labor. Does it literally break my back? Of course not (unless I have to park a mile away and walk with my quad pack on my back...I can feel it then). But, try sitting in a pit orchestra for a month and play the *exact* same music 8 times in a week, week after week. I gaurantee that for some people, it will start to feel like "work" after awhile. Even the pro orchestra guys complain time to time about having to play Beethoven 5 for the 100th or (literally) 1,000th time.

    Being a musician is great and can be very rewarding and fulfilling, but it's not happy, fun, sunny rainbows all the time as some would think. Every job has their stresses, and in terms of high pressure jobs...a professional orchestra musician is at or near the top of the list (under Flight Control Tower workers).
     
  2. miles71

    miles71 Mezzo Piano User

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    Nov 8, 2004
    Maryland
    Wow, this has been an interesting read since my last post.

    On the education side of things, we are constantly fighting to be recognized as an academic subject, music being something you have to study and work for. Quite often music teachers, esp. at the elem. level, are told they are there so the "real teachers can have planning". GRRR!!

    I think it is great to hear people talk so strongly about how they feel, even better when it is about music. I also know for a fact the way I think about things has changed a great deal over the past so many years I have been in the music world. I think it would be interesting to see how many years we have all been playing in a "performance" role. Basically, not counting k-12 grade, how long have you been out there playing for love or money?

    I will start. After high school I started playing for pay, yes I did some freebies for the experience over the past 20 years but have always tried to respect not only the other musicians but myself. So there's my answer, about 20 years. I have taught for 11 years (music in public schools and community college)

    W. Wise, I hope this isn't insulting. I am sure many of us know why you are the "wise one" :-)
    TD
     
  3. Patric_Bernard

    Patric_Bernard Forte User

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    Woot... there it is lol... I think we just had a productive forum post :D. I am actually thinking of pursuing a teaching carreer in teh future as well.
     
  4. miles71

    miles71 Mezzo Piano User

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    Patric,
    I admire your conviction, hook up with a good mentor/teacher and good luck in your future.

    TD
     
  5. Patric_Bernard

    Patric_Bernard Forte User

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    Thank you, I plan on it
     
  6. flugelgirl

    flugelgirl Forte User

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    Seattle, WA
    Okay - my two cents.........I absolutely love being a musician, first of all. I am not the world's best, but I am respectable, and people like the way I play - sometimes even I like the way I play! I would NEVER have joined the Navy if I hadn't needed the money. Yes, I get to play for my day job and that makes me happy, but there are things about my job that I absolutely HATE, too! I love jazz band, combos, rock band, brass quintet, but the day I never have to play wind ensemble again, or especially march another %$#&!! parade, I will be very happy! Even though I like to be physically fit, I will also be very glad when I don't have to be tested on it! I will also be glad to work in a group where you can just fire someone you don't like working with.
    Now, even though I love what I do, think about this - to get where I am has taken me 25 years of 2-5 hours per day of practice and thousands of dollars in education, not to mention the heartache of when I still feel that I don't play as well as I'd like to (we're all perfectionists deep down!). Try that and then tell me it's not work, or doesn't *feel* like work, no matter how much you love it.
     
  7. Jimi Michiel

    Jimi Michiel Forte User

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    Sometimes the line is clear. When I get a call for a wedding gig, I have a set price. I don't particularly enjoy playing that kind of music, so if I'm going to put the effort into giving a professional quality performance, I deserve to be compensated.

    Sometimes the line isn't so clear. I play in several rehearsal bands around the cities. Many of them sound really good, but they usually play for little or nothing. It's an educational experience for me--I'm really working on my jazz chops, so it's good for me to sit next to much more experienced players. I've gotten better playing with these kinds of bands. At the same time, people come to hear us play. They order food and drinks. The bar is making money off us, but we're not seeing very much. Should I refuse to play and demand a "fair" wage? Would we still find performance venues if we demanded union scale?

    I play in a semi-pro brass quintet. Three of the members are not professional musicians. Myself and the bone player are. We've had this discussion over and over. People keep asking us to play for free or nothing, saying that we'll get lots of exposure. blah blah... My compromise--I'd be glad to play for free, as long as we stick to the music of Elliot Carter, Milton Babbitt and Gunther Schuller. V-I cadences cost extra.
     
  8. watchluvr4ever

    watchluvr4ever New Friend

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    Very good thread!
     
  9. Jeff23

    Jeff23 Pianissimo User

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    Brewerton, NY
    Excellent thread! Another way that I would think about "playing" music is to not associate the words 'fun', 'play', or similar. I would use the term "gratifying." The gratification that comes from doing something you love is far greater than any payment. I'm not saying it isn't hard, and I'm not saying you shouldn't get paid for it. Certainly, I can list similar fields that are equally as hard such as being an author, painter, martial arts, dancer, or any of the arts really. I think we can all agree that these people are grossly underpaid, but there is still something that draws them to their fields. It is the gratification. I can spend fifteen minutes trying to learn a difficult passage. Then I need to repeat it 30 times to solidify it and create uniform articulation, phrasing, shaping, etc each time I play it. After that I need to revisit it multiple times, doing the same thing throughout the week to reinforce the "muscle-memory" ("music-memory"). Is there something else I'd rather be playing? Sure. Would the other stuff be as gratifying? I doubt it. Would I rather be doing something else altogether? No. I would highly recommend reading the book "Mastery" by George Leonard. He is an Aikido master, and has a very informative and humble description of what mastery means to him (and how to "achieve mastery" in whatever you do). Mastery doesn't take a lifetime; mastery is a way of life. Maybe I've gotten slightly off topic here, but I think the idea is still relevant. Thanks for listening.
     
  10. Hags888

    Hags888 Pianissimo User

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    Corpus Christi, TX
    Some of the other comments thus far has reminded me of something a freelancer friend once told me.

    If you're trying to figure out whether or not you should take a gig, then you need to have at least 2 of the following 3 things be desirable.

    1. The pay
    2. The people/ensemble you would be working with
    3. The music itself

    If you don't have at least 2 out of the 3, then you probably shouldn't take the gig. I would think that for amateurs, more often than not they are playing with people they enjoy and performing music they enjoy so payment isn't as much of a big deal. For professionals, oftentimes numbers 2 and/or 3 are less than desirable. But I would think that if 1 of the 3 was so overwhelmingly positive you might take the gig if the other 2 fall short.

    Examples. I hate the ensemble I'm playing with and the music is lame...but they're paying me a HUGE amount of money. In that case, I'd put up with everything to get paid. Or, the piece of music is my favorite piece of music of all time, and I'd literally "do anything" to get a chance to perform it. I might put up with an annoying ensemble and do the gig for free simply for the love of music. Or, the ensemble and group is one that I have long-lasting, meaningful ties with and I would agree to play so-so music with them for free because performing with them (no matter what the music) is always rewarding and enjoyable. Those are the only situations where you might take a gig when only 1 of the 3 situations is desirable.

    But generally speaking, if it doesn't pay enough and the music is lame, you probably turn down the gig. Or, if the music and ensemble are lame, you probably turn down the gig if doesn't' pay enough to compensate. Or, if the ensemble is lame and the pay is lame, then you turn it down. Etc, etc.

    I don't necessarily live by these rules, and I usually take any gig I can get if it pays union wages, but if I'm having a hard time deciding on whether to take a gig, sometimes I'll remember these rules as a guideline.
     

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