As I book out into 2019, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I got to this point in my musical life. There’s the received wisdom for most artists in any field that until you make it, you should keep your day job so you can have a solid financial foundation while you work at your art. The downside is, with a day job, you generally have less time to focus on your art which in turn decreases your ability to turn it into a full time career. It’s a delicate balance between having no time to do your art because of the time you put into your day job, as opposed to spending less time at a job (and thus having less financial security) to focus more on the art. The ideal balance is to transition into turning your art into your full-time job.
In my previous post about tools for the 21st Century Musician, I discussed improvisation as probably the most useful tool musicians can be using. In a way, technology is even more indispensable. Unless our voice is our primary or only instrument (and even then there are exceptions), then nearly everything we make music on is the result of some level of technology. Whether we’re talking about the technology of carved bone flutes and dried skins over a wooden frame, or the highly advanced craft that luthiers use to carve/mold stringed instruments, or the ability to build circuitry or program for electronic instruments or computers, there is always some level of technology involved in the making of musical instruments.
“An educated person is one who has learned that information almost always turns out to be at best incomplete and very often false, misleading, fictitious, mendacious – just dead wrong.”
~ Russell Baker
I’ve been blogging about the economics of large scale organizations a lot lately and must confess that it’s related to research I’ve been doing with my wife in the service of figuring out how and why things work in the field(s) of performance. One of our future goals is to have a side business consulting for performers and we believe that understanding what works and what doesn’t work is going to be far more useful than just accepting untested or unquestioned received wisdom.
This seems like an odd idea in many respects, but for those of us who are classically trained musicians, it’s really precisely what we do when we go to music school, right? Also, all those masterclasses and workshops we take on our principal instrument in addition to those rarer occasions when we study with a master musician on our principal instruments who happen to not be a master in the instrument we’re playing–these all count.
And why do we do this anyway? Obviously there some level of mastery we’d like to reach with our instruments, and if we bother to do these workshops, masterclasses, clinics and lessons then we surely must feel like we still have something to learn about the craft of music.
Then there are those rarer occurrences of musicians who study two or more instruments. Usually this would include wildly unrelated instruments (e.g. voice/violin; piano/cello) though usually the instruction usually encompasses studying with musicians within one particular (e.g. classical) tradition on both instruments. We occasionally encounter some of these ‘double majors’ at music schools and in some sense we’ve all had some of this kind of instruction (speaking strictly from the standard classical music training environment) as many of us have gone through the dreaded piano proficiency classes, lessons and test/juries.