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If you could tell your younger musician self something, what would it be?

brianr

Senior Member
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1,242
And a rubber.


Lucky this isn't SOTW, otherwise that'd be hilarious!
It’s good to be an optimist, but I feel that the pencil is way more likely to be needed !!
and of course, one always needs to check if there is still any lead left in the pencil.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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2,287
Location
New Mexico, US
Some interesting replies. I am going to look at this more holistically.

Sure we can say things regarding having boned up more on this or that, or having taken this or that aspect of playing/performing more seriously.

From my corner....I would say....I spent far TOO much time:

a) focusing on the 'injustice' of mediocre or even bordering-on-talentless musicians (and musical genres, even) having been 'successful' while more talented ones lived and plied their trade in relative obscurity, struggling, basically.
This created in me a decades long chip on my shoulder primarily when it came to gigging...and actually for most of my musical life actually oftentimes negatively impacted the experience of performing itself.

b) tangential to this - holding onto the belief that MY styles of music could be presented to a listening audience and WE would 'educate' them on how much 'better' it really is....and therefore over time enough of 'us' playing this or that genre could actually supplant some other bands/artists/performers.
This contained a sense of "we're not gonna play that more easily-consumed, watered-down stuff" or the like...because that would be pandering or selling out.
This would also set it self up for disappointment a fair amount of the time...whether that disappointment be the result of poor audience reaction to our genres*, poor attendance, or simply not being able to garner enough interest to get booked in the first place (or asked to return).

Both of these things were incredibly egoic, and really incredible digressions to what I have come to realize is the true core of the musical experience.

While I would like to say my postions/beliefs at that time were 'unusual', the fact is I still see it a LOT in younger musicians today, particularly those who secured an academic education as a music major.


*not because we had performed badly - usually it was the opposite. But because we insisted on elbowing into a venue where the genre was not commonly performed. But held firmly to the belief that we would 'win them over'.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
2,287
Location
New Mexico, US
cont'd....

...so, it was not until I returned to playing (I took two long hiatuses...one of around 4 years, the other a decade)....and not until I began tuning into the relative level of the public's musical tastes in whatever locality I happened to be living in...

...and yes, began performing in projects which took the locality and context into account...

...then finally, being laid off from playing due to covid ...("don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what'cha got 'til it's gone").....then having performing opportunities begin to reopen in the past year....

that I let all of that go, really....and just concentrated on playing and presenting fun music, well-rehearsed and well-performed....at/in the sort of venues/contexts where it would be well-met/appreciated.

Huge difference, having shed all that judgment and negativity.
 

randulo

Living the dream
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Huge difference, having shed all that judgment and negativity.
Jay, you win the lucidity award there, thanks for sharing what I think are attitudes not as rare as you think. In fact, in the jazz world, I believe they're common. I remember playing in a club where the owner was castigating us for playing too "jazzy", telling us "People wanna dance!". We were playing a kind of fusion, not really jazzy, but with a few ninth chords or major sevenths. It didn't fit the expectations. If a band of mediocre players went over in the club, it was because people liked hearing "Proud Mary". We should have found a way to play that, found an audience for what we were playing. You gave your younger self great advice!
 

Iain

Member
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Helsiki Finland
A saxophone will enable you to meet a young Lady.
Buy it when you are sixteen not sixty.
At Harry Carney's 60th birthday celebration, Duke Ellington said: There are not too many cool things a man can do aged 60, but playing the saxophone is one of them"
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
2,287
Location
New Mexico, US
Jay, you win the lucidity award there, thanks for sharing what I think are attitudes not as rare as you think. In fact, in the jazz world, I believe they're common. I remember playing in a club where the owner was castigating us for playing too "jazzy", telling us "People wanna dance!". We were playing a kind of fusion, not really jazzy, but with a few ninth chords or major sevenths. It didn't fit the expectations. If a band of mediocre players went over in the club, it was because people liked hearing "Proud Mary". We should have found a way to play that, found an audience for what we were playing. You gave your younger self great advice!
Yes, I hear that. The problem is/was....back in my younger years I viewed that as selling out, or the like. It was a matter of, in a sense, disrespecting popular tastes just a bit too much. And, again, erroneously believing that we were some sort of messengers of an elevated type of music.

It was just a big digression, a big waste of time and energy which led to frustration rather than joy....
 

randulo

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Another thing I'd tell my younger self would be about networking, getting to know the people for who they are, trying to share their interests and see what they see. As we go through life, each of us is seeing a different movie.

Aside from making a living, easier when young and single, there are other reasons to want to get work. Working often has musical challenges and these usually make you a better player. In most careers, there are periods, long or short, of not finding gigs. Often, the players I knew that were never out of a job, were not the best players. They were the people that managed to be friendly with leaders. I mean genuinely friendly, not just sucking up to them. They played well enough to to do the job, and the leaders (or band members) felt comfortable with them. This isn't so far from Jay's comments about being "above" other musicians, it's all part of one attitude. It's possible that, when you get older, if these lessons haven't sunk in, you become embittered about almost everything, unable to share sincere communication, whether in person or online, and possibly worried about dying alone.
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
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brighton by the sea
Another thing I'd tell my younger self would be about networking, getting to know the people for who they are, trying to share their interests and see what they see. As we go through life, each of us is seeing a different movie.

Aside from making a living, easier when young and single, there are other reasons to want to get work. Working often has musical challenges and these usually make you a better player. In most careers, there are periods, long or short, of not finding gigs. Often, the players I knew that were never out of a job, were not the best players. They were the people that managed to be friendly with leaders. I mean genuinely friendly, not just sucking up to them. They played well enough to to do the job, and the leaders (or band members) felt comfortable with them. This isn't so far from Jay's comments about being "above" other musicians, it's all part of one attitude. It's possible that, when you get older, if these lessons haven't sunk in, you become embittered about almost everything, unable to share sincere communication, whether in person or online, and possibly worried about dying alone.
Amen to that- the guy who gets the gig is often the one who fits the 'do you want to be stuck in a van for six hours with this person?' criteria over being the best player. Personality goes a long way....
 

randulo

Living the dream
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France
A guitar player in Paris who played with organist Eddy Louis, who was a major jazz player here, told me "He just wants people he's comfortable with in the band." This is not always true, but I think it's a very important aspect.
 

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