As an aspiring musician
When I was 22 years old and playing the local dance halls and clubs something interesting happened. I met an older, seasoned player from another band and we got to talking. I asked, “How long is it going to take me to become a good player?” He looked at me, smiled and said, “Well, let me put it to you this way, George, the first 20 years don’t count”. We became friends over the years and what I needed to learn was yet to come.
My band was already making a comfortable living playing music and had a large following of over 500 in a local market.. Although proud of the accomplishment and success, I had an emptiness, something was missing. I wanted to understand music at a deep level. It was my art, my craft, my livelihood and I wanted to master it and be proud. I wanted to have something I could call my own. I didn’t understand what my friend meant at first but over time became enlightened with the wisdom of experience.
What I learned over time
Being an educated, thoughtful, proficient musician vs. banging chords or rocking the blues scale in 5 forms on an instrument have almost nothing to do with each other. You can make money in the music business with little to no talent. You can even make it big with minimal talent as a musician.
Music and the music business have very little to do with each other. The focus of the music business is money; Motivate a crowd to excitement, sell drinks, keep customers coming back and keep a steady paycheck. That’s the job of the performer. There’s nothing wrong with making money, everyone has to, including musicians. This is simply the nature of the business. But it is flawed.
There are so many different facets of music and the music business a young budding player can easily get confused, lose focus, take bad advice and spend years traveling down the wrong road.
What is Music?
This subject can fill a book but for our purpose we will filter down. Music can be broken down and thought of as combinations of sounds and silence, air movement and vibrations.Let’s move past that and discuss music’s purpose.
Music, for the sake of music, is driven by the love of an art form for its beauty and communicative value. Music can create feelings of happiness, sadness, thoughtfulness and melancholy. It can scare you, make you feel at peace and so much more.
From a listener’s perspective
Music fills so many needs in our society. It enhances the experience of watching a movie, helps people find love in a bar or dance club and removes the silence from the air in our home. It fills our car with sound so we can jam, sing along or reminisce. You get the picture.
From a mainstream musicians’ perspective
It is a vehicle to tell our story, share our art form, have a skill we are proud of, be a part of a bigger whole, or enjoy a hobby.
Classical musicians have to be perfect; they take pride in being a part of and helping to create the perfection of beautiful sound.
Most ( I said, “most”) Jazz musicians, similar to classical musicians are highly educated. Jazz is a vehicle which allows a musician to learn and master theory, harmony, music and their instrument. Then, they “get to forget” what they learned and just play within the structure of the chords anything they want.
Becoming a musician on the guitar
To become a master, a virtuoso of your chosen instrument (ours is guitar), with a true understanding of your craft and instrument, takes time. You start by learning technique and communication skills in the language of music (reading and writing). You learn your scales, arpeggios, chords in all 12 keys. You get to know your instrument.
Why do you learn to play in 12 keys? There are several reasons. Not everyone sings in the same key. If you are backing up singers you need to be able to transpose (play the same song in any key). In addition, Songs can sound better or worse in different keys.
True, educated musicians pay attention to every note, dynamics, attack, sustain, tension, release. The music takes you on a journey. You can create feelings and moods in your audience through knowledge of how sound impacts the listener. The banger bangs and has fun. That has its place and is fine. Its important for you to know the difference and what you want out of your music.
In summary, music is emotion, feelings or a story. The job of the musician is to create these emotions and feelings as an expert; to know, instantly, how to find happy or sad sounds and convey them to the listener. If you play in a group, ensemble or show it is your job to expertly perform the parts written for your instrument to save time and money for the investor.
If you do not study, learn and master music, and your instrument, it is impossible to deliver the above instantly. Hit or miss is not an option at a professional level. You need to be the expert.
This is also where you will find your greatest passion and satisfaction in your instrument and music. Do you want to be a musician?
Look forward to your comments!