The Amateur/Professional Divide

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by tutin_trumpeta, Jan 26, 2010.

  1. kctrumpeteer

    kctrumpeteer Piano User

    Dec 23, 2009
    Here's something to ponder for you.... when I was in Junior high playing trumpet the music instructor had to be gone and he actually (not sure the circumstances) let the janitor student teach. He had the cheesiest looking suit I've ever seen, but I also remember him playing the trumpet like I had never heard.. The guy was actually F'ing amazing. So was he a professional. ? NO he wasn't but he was an amazing player, and I always have to chuckle thinking back to that way back when (Who knows maybe he was a pro that had 'issues' that resulted him in becoming a janitor)

    Personally I think if you get paid to perform music you are a professional. It doesn't mean that you adhere to a "Professional" code of ethics. It just means that you are employed to make music. Doesn't mean that you can sustain yourself on nothing else. I have friends who have played professionally and did nothing else but have gone back to keeping the day job and doing music more on a part time basis. A similar case would be someone I know that is a professional writer and published author but he doesn't make his money writing novels as it is very difficult to become the elite few that make it such as professional muscian, writer, actor, basketball player, NFL player.... etc. etc. ...

    So maybe there are different classes of professionals such as 1. Do you make 80-100% of your living from playing music, 2. What is the quality of your work? (i.e. playing piano in the mall on Saturday or playing with an orchestra?) or having serval CDs produced 3. Another thing is calling yourself a pro, but also getting recognition by other people that would be in the position to call you a pro. a.k.a. what reputation do you have?
  2. Jarrett

    Jarrett Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    Richland, MO
    Here's another question. How do you feel about military musicians and cruise musicians? Professionals or not?
  3. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008
    That's generally how I think of it as well...
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    To the IRS the only distinction is money or not. To the working musician it is would you invite them back or not. To the agent it is a combination of both.
  5. edfitzvb

    edfitzvb Forte User

    Jun 10, 2008
    Woodlawn, VA
    INTERESTING thread.

    I made my living as a traveling musician for several years before going back to school for my current job. I consider myself a professional musician/entertainer. i sing, I dance, I front, and I play. That being said, as a professional, I also know when I am out of my league, and I know who to suggest if I get a call for something I'm not comfortable with. I am a decent player who is learning a LOT from this forum and the suggestions and the interesting perspectives. I wouldn't THINK of trying to sit next to some of the players here. Still, in my world I do very well. I rarely have to go above Concert E flat above the staff, so my chops are adequate. To me, a professional is anyone who is paid for musical services, who understands where he/she has shortcomings, and is able to assist the client in procuring the desired musical results if the book is not within my abilities.

    That's a lot of words, and I'm not sure how much I SAID.

    Ed Fitzgerald

    Courtois Balanced Model
    1954 Olds Super w/ Bach bell (uptilt) Frankenhorn (LA)
    Rudy Muck Blessing Super Artist clone trumpet
    Rudy Muck Blessing Super Artist clone cornet
    Olds Special cornet (LA)
    Besson Prototype cornet (London)
    Getzen Eterna 4 valve flugel

    “Hindsight is always 20/20”
  6. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    Based on everything that has been said, I think it is reasonable to consider a spectrum of abilities and situations on which the determination is made. Based on the "pay" or "no-pay" basis, one can be an amateur one minute and a "professional" the next regardless of skill level. Think of playing in the subway with your hat on the floor - when someone walks by and throws in a couple of dollars, (or Euros or Pounds or whatever) then for that few minutes you become a professional based on that criteria. Obviously, then, there are amateurs who have much higher skill levels than some "professionals". So, for the purpose of judging a player's abilities or the pleasure of listing to the music, the term is rather useless.

    Consider the analogy to a pilot (of which I am one). The FAA has a very strict, legal definition of a "professional" and that is based solely on whether pay is received (even $1) for a flight. However, to avoid a totally meaningless use of the term, the FAA imposes a minimum skill level to qualify to receive even $1 for pay for flying - the pilot must possess a commercial pilot license which requires training and skill. However, there is still a very wide gap between a young "professional" pilot who gets paid $20 for towing a banner over a beach and a seasoned "professional" at the controls of a 747.

    The biggest difference is that there is no certification required for trumpet players so every listener who walks by the hat in the subway gets to decide, for that moment, whether the player is a "professional" and to throw - or not - a dollar into the hat. I guess that's what makes trumpet playing so much fun.
  7. B15M

    B15M Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Monroe Ct.
    Someone that plays to feed the family is a pro. Someone that plays for free is an armature. We all agree on that. Now what about everything in between?

    I have a full time job in another industry. I also get a W2 and file for taxes with the IRS for the trumpet. I would say getting a W2 is a sign that I'm professional. I do play in one band for free. It's an up scale community band that you have to audition to get in. I play principal trumpet and am proud of it. Does that make me an armature? There are musicians in the band that make their living playing. Are they armatures because they play for free in that band? Tricky stuff.

    I consider myself semi pro and at he level where I could be a professional if I wanted to or had to.

    To answer a question posted above; Military and cruise ship musicians are pros.
  8. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    Rowuk said:
    That's the true and simple answer. :thumbsup:

    What you write on a Tax return as source of income; and if you don't have the goods, then you will not survive. There are lots of great musicians out there, and great players. The ones that get paid and put their lives into it are the Pros...
    For the rest of us, it's a hobby.:shock:

    I love trumpet playing, but look upon myself as a trumpet owner and custodian of the instrument. My career has allowed me this pleasure. No regrets. But huge real respect for the pros, and admiration for the Stars.
  9. Jarrett

    Jarrett Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    Richland, MO
    Nice Analogy!
  10. Vicky

    Vicky New Friend

    Jan 27, 2010
    Great discussion--I find much to agree with. My opinion is that a professional is someone I want to hire (since I'm in the blessed position of hiring professional musicians) and that means they have class, intelligence, musical individuality, taste, flair, plus these three distinctives that are, I think, crucial: high-level playing skills, consistency, a sense of blend (which basically means that they have an excellent ear and use it for the good of the music). In my experience, people who lack the final 3 qualities are not going to be hired to do work in a situation where people care about excellence. These final three seem, IMHO, to be the foundation upon which artistry builds.
    B15M likes this.

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