What's Good Enough?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by john7401, Jul 18, 2010.

  1. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California
    And that's why I think music is a better "deal" than an Olympic sport, because in the sport there's one "best" but in music there are many. Many-many-many. A guy I know makes a fortune (at least how I define it) with his banjo and voice. Do I like his music? Not really. But enough people do. He's made more than a thousand in a day, and that's after this present Crash started in 08. Do I admire and respect him? Yes, very much so.

    The nice thing about music is there's room for just about everyone. And yes, most of success is showing up and doing it.
  2. B15M

    B15M Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Monroe Ct.
    I wanted to play full time and now I sell lumber for a living. I'm pretty good at it too.

    Here are a couple of reasons I didn't make it as a musician.

    I didn't listen to my teachers in college enough. Instead, I took the advice of older students.

    I didn't finish school and went on the road with a band. I was now a full time musician, making a living playing the trumpet. I made $200.00 a week plus room and board and lived in hotels. My playing was heading down hill every day I stayed with the band.

    I have a friend that got his masters from Yale in performance. When he graduated, he was a great player, now he still plays and works in another field.

    I do a lot of freelance gigs now. The pay stinks. If I had to make a living doing this, I would starve. I played a concert with a big band last week and after the job, the leader gave me $50.00. How can you live on that? Most of them pay $75.00, still not enough to live on.

    All that being said, If you want it, someone is making a living doing it, why not you?

    I'll be the odd guy out here and say that being first trumpet in the HS band does mean something. It shows that you care and have some drive. It's the direction you need for success. Just remember, when you get to college, most of the other players were first in their HS band too and they are competition now. After your first year of school you'll have a better idea how you fit in with whats expected. You can then make up your mind to keep going or change to another major.
  3. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California
    $50 a day is a LOT of money to me, a LOT. But, yeah, try to have a family on it or even keep a girlfriend.
  4. Scatmanblues

    Scatmanblues Pianissimo User

    Jul 19, 2010
    West Texas
    There are way too many intelligent posts in this thread to quote them all, but I want to offer a perspective I haven't seen articulated in exactly this way yet.

    Several people have pointed out that for 99% of us, we'll never be a Maynard or a Wynton. They've probably misrepresented your odds on the high side. I'd guess there are more major league baseball players in this country than there are top-flight, on-call studio guys in LA, NY, and the rest of the country combined. The odds of playing any professional sport at any level are less than 1 in 150,000. That's with multiple teams, multiple leagues, and including minor leagues. How many cities have major recording studios, orchestras, or regularly working big bands and how many trumpet players work for them? 200-300 max at the highest levels is my guess. I bet fewer than those actually earn all of their money PLAYING their horns. Even the biggest pros teach clinics and lessons, take advertising dollars from music companies, hold repair or management jobs somewhere in the industry, or supplement their playing income through other means.

    For the VAST majority of us, we'll need to do other things on the side to eat and have a place to live. I don't buy the starving artist expectation. I tried it, and all I got was hungry. I didn't grow more as a player or suddenly develop more professional playing opportunities because I was "only" working 20 hours a week at $6 an hour in addition to my playing. What opportunities I got I got for being a reliable and professional musician. As others have said, I was always on time, I played for the length of time I was booked and with a kick off on time (you'd be amazed how rare that is...). I learned in grad school (another "pay your dues through hard work for which you earn little) that if you are disciplined enough to do the research and writing (or play the horn well), you can be disciplined enough to manage your time and finances to find other work and build a schedule that will allow you to at least be comfortable.

    We should be inspired by the best, but building a career in any highly competitive field takes perspective and awareness of what real opportunities look like. Who has the longest careers in pro football? It's sure not the "stars" who do it all well and get challenged and hammered all the time (Brett Favre being the freakish exception). It's the punters and kickers who have found a niche and gotten really good at one thing. It's the number 3 receivers who run 1-2 routes so well it's like clockwork and who don't drop the 2-3 passes they see a game. They are the guys who developed a unique, marketable skill and are dependable, reliable, pros about doing it.

    Anecdotes are rarely worth more than the ink (or pixels) they are made of, so take this for what it is -my experience, but the guys I've seen have "careers" in music (outside the narrowly-defined "professional" class and what it entails) found their niche and exploited it. Guys who decided, "Hey, I'll be the rock guy in town, or the jazz guy, or just the trumpet player at church."

    There was a guy in Tulsa when I was growing up who was the rock/blues guy. Every time there was a music festival this guy was playing behind 2-3 visiting acts (BB King, Bo Diddly, etc.) It was obvious he was the "on-call" guy for that type of music, and he stayed busy. He never took solos, never played screaming lead, never showed up in jazz bands or classical combos; he just played a rock-solid backup horn for blues and rock guys. I never even learned his name because he didn't get introduced, or stick around to sign autographs, or even appear to care about being recognized.

    At the church I attended growing up there was a guy who always played a flugel along with the piano and organ during hymns. Very rarely he would play a solo, and always to recorded music. But he got to play every week, got concerts around the holidays, and was a fixture at weddings and funerals for the extended network of related churches.

    In college, I sat in for a night with a Polka band. This band had been together for over 50 years, and in some cases guys were 30-40 years in. They played 1-2 dances A WEEK around the city. They were wildly popular at VFWs, rest homes, and county fairs. They had a guaranteed weekly dance at the Hungarian Dance Hall in a rural suburb. Was it the "sexiest" gig, or the one we all dreamed about as high school screamers? No. But it was fun, it was steady, and it was challenging (that's another story, but WOW, those charts were TOUGH).

    The same sorts of situations hold across professions and performance levels. If you want to make your living at anything, not just music, you have to find your niche. Even if you aren't destined for the stratosphere, you can still be a professional in the best sense of the word by developing a bedrock of fundamental skills and mastering a few specialized ones that make you stand out from the crowd.

    You know yourself and what you love, and you are doing the right thing by seeking out perspective and advice. Wherever you land, just remember that, while the fundamentals never change (you'll always need to be on time, in tune, and at the right volume), you can define what success in trumpet playing looks like for you.

  5. melza

    melza Pianissimo User

    Mar 12, 2010
    I would say while your young and if its all you think of, go for it with everything you have. You dont wont to think what could have been when your older. You just need to be prepared to put in alot of work and realise you might not make it.
  6. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    When do you need to start this musical odyssey of yours?

    3-4 years to "get a trade" will be the advice Mum and Dad will give you - great advice from a lifetime of "narrow focus forged from hindsight" (I don't think that is a bad thing, your folks will be looking out for you).

    But, considering that if you ARE as good as you need to be, or are prepared to WORK as hard as you need - then gaining success as a professional musician can only be realised by giving it a go. :dontknow:
  7. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Some time next year in my senior year I will go to the college and see if I can get an opinion. For now I'll keep up practicing as much as I can and doing some more career searching. I get almost all A's so I could have a decent shot at making good money whichever way I go (outside of music), but music has been the only thing that I really enjoyed.
    You might want to consider getting together with the guidance councellor and take a intrest inventory. The Stong Intrest Inventory is one of many.
  8. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    veery sez,
    yews yer spill chucker! Counselor. Interest. Also, it is StRong.
  9. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Oh No!! an english/spelling major.
    Hey wait! Ain't you spellin' Very incurrekly? Isn't it ie instead of y?
    But Veery is right, It's Strong not Stong.
    The survey will give you an idea of your interests.
    Thank you Veery
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2010
  10. GPHIL

    GPHIL New Friend

    Jul 20, 2010
    As Wayne Gretzky said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take!"

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