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I've sat in with symphony orchestras, pl ayed in community and school bands, sat behind the skins of jazz ensembles and c ombos, and played in a bunch of small ensembles, from brass quintets to rock ban ds. From all of these experiments, I've noticed that a lot of musicians are the least professional people I've ever met. But you don't have to be that way. Bein g professional is the best way to assure that you'll get hired, and continue to get hired, as well as creating habits to make you a better player, and a person that your fellow musicians continue to want to associate themselves with. So let s get started. The Professional Musician is Never Late This is a big deal, and o ne that is misunderstood. To be on time, you actually have to be early. Being on time means that you are completely warmed up, tuned up, hooked up, miced up, wh atever it is you do, when you want rehearsal or your show to start. If you show up for a 6 pm rehearsal at 6 pm, you're late. Because you will not be ready to p lay until 6:01, at the earliest, and at that point you will have lost a minute o f rehearsal time, time you could have spent making your ensemble better. And if I were organizing a show, and I gave your band an 8pm slot, and you walked into my establishment at 8 o'clock, I'd not-so-politely ask you to leave. I have no t ime for your tardiness to upset the schedule I created. The reasons not to be la te go on and on. If you're late, you let your band down, because they can't star t without you, or if they do, their sound will be severely compromised without y ou. You need to take responsibility for your presence at rehearsal/performance, and be reliable. Nobody wants to work with a musician that doesn't show up for t hings. The Professional Musician is Always Prepared There are two facets to this . The first is that you bring everything you need to rehearsal/performance. This menas all instruments, effects, amps, cables, mics, tabs, picks, straps, etc. e tc. etc. I can not tell you the amount of times I've showed up to a rehearsal on ly to have someone say "Okay, I only have about half the sheet music, and no par t for (insert musician here) so he'll have to read off whoever's part and..." it s annoying, its obnoxious, and most importantly, its ineffective and inefficient . There's no way you can accomplish as much as you would have usually if the dru mmer doesn't have his sticks, or if the guitarist is hooked into a hi-fi because he forgot his amp. If you're playing a show, you need to first check to see wha t will be provided for you when you get there, and then have a backup plan in ca se there was an error in communication. You need to foresee any issues that coul d possibly arrive. Could your amp short out? Could your cable fray or rip or wha tever it is cables do? The less room for error there is, the more chances that y our performance will be a smooth one. The second facet is that you come prepared to play your part at rehearsal. That means practice. The rule of thumb is that you need to be able to play your part by the second rehearsal. If you rehearse M onday Wednesday Friday, and you get new music on Monday, that means you need to be able to play it by Wednesday. No excuses. If you don't have to spend the time in rehearsal working out parts because somebody didn't do their job, then you c an spend that time working out dynamics, or musical nuances, or whatever you wan t to make that song really pop. If you're improvising a solo, you need to KNOW t he changes. There's no reason why the rhythm guy should be calling out chord nam es to you as you play. You don't need to work out exactly what you're gonna play , because its improvisation and writing something beforehand kind of defeats the purpose, but not knowing what you're soloing over is called a lack of preparati on on your part. The more you do it, the less fun you are to play with, and the more problems you'll have finding a band/gig. The Professional Musician Uses Dis cretion "Dude you suck, what were you thinking?" I have heard that during a rehe arsal more than once, and it is just the worst way to go about anything. I don't care if it really did suck, telling a band mate or a fellow musician that is ju st cause for resentment and fighting. I have three problems with the above state ment, and I'll tell you exactly what they are. Number one is that it was antagon istic. It was a personal attack on the musician, and is bound to be taken person ally. Number two is that it offered no specifics as to what was unacceptable. "Y ou suck" doesn't tell me if I missed notes, was flat/sharp, was not in dynamic b alance with the ensemble, was out of rhythm, wasn't clean, or whatever. There's
be courteous. ESPECIALLY if they aren't being payed. You never know who you're ta lking to. Be courteous to the people who booked you. I get it. When you all play together. if you have albums out. You create music. Take care of business. But don't b e an idiot. to anybody who is nice enough to set up your equip ment. if I was flat. plus he might reccomend you to other people. and I'll fix it. Don't trash hotel rooms. The person who booked you is an invaluable contact if you ever need a gig again. you are an ambassador to music. In that situation. Be nny Goodman. because remember. Notice. ALL genres. and you respectfully and quickly resolve conflicts or differences of opinions." or whatever. act like it. you should be educated in the subject. Don't ever do it in public. fans who want to talk to you.so many possibilities for things I could have done wrong. but don't ever act like you're better than anybody in the audience. Mozart. But. te ll me which one. T he engineers in the recording studio are working pretty hard to make your projec t sound awesome. So do what you do on stage. If I was out of time. or. that's awesome. the condu ctor addresses the problems with the performance. engin eers in the recording studio. don't attack any of your f ellow musicians. tell me on which notes and I'll fix it. So learn some music theor y. Miles Davis. Just like you have to dress for who you want to be . and you really get kind of a d ictatorship. Everyone gets to make suggestions . Stravinsky. That means Beethoven. don't be an idiot. And don't forget about Gershwin. It often expands your "tool box" and gives you a bunch of new ideas to try. If I missed a note. Agai n. And your fellow musicians (along with mo st recording engineers) and you share a bond. Like I said before. Bach. and listening never hurt. yeah. If you want to party. professionalism is severely lacking in a lot of musicians nowadays. The music business is tough. Any time you pe rform in public. don't show up high or drunk to rehearsal or shows. from a ll genres. you have to act that way as well. Playing with a non-conductor-led ensemb le is much different than playing with a conductor. and fellow musicians. The Professional Musician Realizes that His/Her Job is No Exc use for a "Rock n' Roll Lifestyle" Look. but you have a righ t to have your opinion heard. "you suck" does nothing to help me fix my problem. You have to realize that you won't get your way every time. And finally. y ou're in the same game. Like I s aid. but mess up your own stuff. Coltrane. you're in a democracy. and always make your rehearsals enjoyable. Don't disrespect them. Don't be that way. The Professional Mus ician is an Ambassador of Music This one is a pet peeve of mine. Monk. There is a LOT of music out there. and therefore. if you want to intelligently and coherently create and discuss music. We love partying. and you have to keep the peace and learn how to work together. or ballpark it. So again. The Professional Musician is Musically Educated I'm not saying you ne ed a college degree. if you act like a bunch of idiots. W agner. Duke Ellington. he/she might not. will wan t to buy your album. Don't make it any harder on yourself. and it'll almost certainly help. and always be listening to as much music as you can get your hands on. like any show is "beneath your standards. all those guys. give me a hand with helping me get back in time. But. You wanna be a professional musician? Well. It certainly can't hurt. the people who watch you form an opinion about musicians. . and do it in a professional manner. Somebody else in the aud ience might know somebody who needs a band. and "you suck" isn't a ny of them.
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