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Author Topic: Amateurs vs. Professionals  (Read 846 times)
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wetrb
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« on: Sep 11, 2017, 06:42AM »

An interesting article on the differences between the two groups. I find myself somewhere in the middle on many of these.

https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2017/08/amateurs-professionals/
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Jon Wederquist
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« Reply #1 on: Sep 11, 2017, 06:54AM »

Well, like anything else - that is one opinion on the subject. The author seems to have a negative slant against amateurs.

I found this particularly interesting: "Amateurs focus on identifying their weaknesses and improving them. Professionals focus on their strengths and on finding people who are strong where they are weak." On all other points, I tend to have his pro attitude. But on this point, I don't understand why it is bad to identify weaknesses and improve upon them. That is building from the ground up. Okay, when performing - focus on the strengths, of course. But when practicing, we only get better at the things we practice that we can't do. Duh.

...Geezer
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« Reply #2 on: Sep 11, 2017, 06:56AM »

Poor sad, deluded, ignorant amateurs!

This column has the air of a blogger (is there even a name attached?) who had a deadline to get something out. Anything.

At best, these may be his anecdotal observations (...hmmm... I wonder which category he puts himself in...) but I doubt there was real research involved.


Quote
Amateurs focus on tearing other people down. Professionals focus on making everyone better.

Oh geez. That guy has never been in workplace with more than three people in it.
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Robert Holmén

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« Reply #3 on: Sep 11, 2017, 07:06AM »

Right. I differ with his attitude on that point as well. I think he is trying to sell copy. You know how they do it on the nightly news which I do not watch anymore. If it bleeds, it leads. He knows there are way more amateurs than pros and he is baiting them to get a reaction.

...Geezer
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« Reply #4 on: Sep 11, 2017, 07:25AM »

That was like a comedy routine.

"Amateur people be like..."
"But Professional people be like..."

or

"In Amateur, you pay money to play horn"
"In Professional, playing horn pay YOU."
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BillO
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« Reply #5 on: Sep 11, 2017, 07:56AM »

I found this particularly interesting: "Amateurs focus on identifying their weaknesses and improving them. Professionals focus on their strengths and on finding people who are strong where they are weak." On all other points, I tend to have his pro attitude. But on this point, I don't understand why it is bad to identify weaknesses and improve upon them.
It would be great for the pro to have the luxury to take the time to dedicate to expanding their abilities like an amateur.  They are under different pressures and are likely in a job and getting paid because of their strengths.  If you take my meaning.
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« Reply #6 on: Sep 11, 2017, 07:59AM »

It's really more of a rant than a guide to success.
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Robert Holmén

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« Reply #7 on: Sep 11, 2017, 08:00AM »

It would be great for the pro to have the luxury to take the time to dedicate to expanding their abilities like an amateur.  They are under different pressures and are likely in a job and getting paid because of their strengths.  If you take my meaning.

Yes. However, I think the more progressive ones do continually strive to push their boundaries!

...Geezer
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« Reply #8 on: Sep 11, 2017, 08:13AM »

I am going to hate-read that article for the next 15 minutes and then share it with all my "friends" on FB so that they can hate it and be offended by it as well, b/c that's what we do now. LOL!

...Geezer
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« Reply #9 on: Sep 11, 2017, 10:58AM »

It's really more of a rant than a guide to success.

Bingo....
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« Reply #10 on: Sep 11, 2017, 11:56AM »

In Soviet Union, professional amateurs you.

As in: "I thought I could play until I got amateured by that professional Soviet trombone playuh"
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« Reply #11 on: Sep 11, 2017, 01:23PM »

I take this person's use of amateur as "amateur professional" as in perhaps a fledgling or egotistical "pro".  Not as in an amateur in the sense that the individual just does not want to make music their profession.

I play in many "amateur" groups and no one tries to "tear each other down", or does half the stuff this person writes about.
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« Reply #12 on: Sep 11, 2017, 01:54PM »

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Robert Holmén

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« Reply #13 on: Sep 11, 2017, 02:30PM »



goofus and gallent. Outstanding!

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« Reply #14 on: Sep 11, 2017, 03:07PM »

I take this person's use of amateur as "amateur professional" as in perhaps a fledgling or egotistical "pro".  Not as in an amateur in the sense that the individual just does not want to make music their profession.

I play in many "amateur" groups and no one tries to "tear each other down", or does half the stuff this person writes about.

Yeah, this was written by someone who blogs about, uh, corporate stuff... doesn't really apply to our situation.
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« Reply #15 on: Sep 11, 2017, 03:12PM »





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Robert Holmén

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« Reply #16 on: Sep 11, 2017, 03:17PM »

Well, there is always the movie "Whiplash". I won't post a trailer here due to it's graphic content, but it's out there on YouTube and such.

Talk about self-inflicted AND imposed brutality (and obvious audio dubbing)!

...Geezer
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« Reply #17 on: Sep 11, 2017, 03:43PM »

On all other points, I tend to have his pro attitude. But on this point, I don't understand why it is bad to identify weaknesses and improve upon them. That is building from the ground up. Okay, when performing - focus on the strengths, of course. But when practicing, we only get better at the things we practice that we can't do. Duh.

...Geezer

It's funny I kind of see it the other way around. The author has some good points but many of the points he makes are insipid pop psych and motivational philosophy clichés. On the point you mentioned though, I tend to agree with them.

Applied to trombone playing, for instance - not everybody's a naturally good lead big band player - that doesn't mean you can't have a career as a section or low tenor player. I bet there are a lot of great 2nd orchestral trombone players for whom their high range or alto playing is a weakness. And I bet there are plenty of big band leads or orchestra principals that couldn't do such a great job in other roles. A natural lead could spend too much time trying to become an amazing improviser - there might be other improvisers who are just much more natural and better at it and will always be better, meanwhile that natural lead player's time could be better spent becoming the best lead player in town, an objective within their grasp. Sure in school we all work to improve their weaknesses as well as their strengths - but at some point you have to stop and think, and evaluate what you're good at and capitalize on that. That lead player might decide to improve their improvisation skills during their career - good for them - but that's not what will have made them successful as a top lead player.

I have had so many friends and colleagues stop playing and become sad about music just because schools always push us to become the best in a pre-determined set of parameters...Yeah, they didn't have what it takes to win a major symphony audition (neither do I), but some have strengths that make them much more qualified to be a specialist of contemporary music, or early music, or improvisation, than the person who'll win that orchestral audition. I think it's meantally healthy to accept our strengths and weaknesses, to a certain point.

Some of the very top players have the capacity of doing everything; lead, improv, orchestral playing, crazy virtuosic new music, playing sackbut almost as well as people who study just that for years...but although they certainly put in the hard work to get there, I don't think it is  because of that hard work that they are capable of doing it all. Admiring the best is fine, but cultivating the notion that everybody can get there if they want it badly enough and work for it enough is not healthy. For most aspiring professionals, knowing our strengths and knowing how to sell them will get us a lot further (and happier) than trying to be the best in every single aspect of our playing.
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Maximilien Brisson
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« Reply #18 on: Sep 11, 2017, 04:09PM »

That is a very interesting point and I can get what you mean. At a certain point, you dance with who brung you.

And yet there is an element of resignation and/or giving up that I am not comfortable with. I told my physician last month during a routine exam that this 69-year old runs 3 miles every morning and then lifts weights for strength gain for 1/2 hour afterwards. I told him I am not ready to give up.

And I don't think any player - regardless of what he has attained - should give up either. Now, that doesn't mean he should drive himself mad by unnecessarily pushing himself. But I think there should always be a certain amount of pushing oneself to do those things that he would like to do better, even if it isn't on the current dinner plate.

There is a gentleman on this Forum (I hope he is still on) who has retired from professional playing. Now he is trying to make those improvements to his playing that (if I understand him correctly) he had always wanted to do. Even in retirement, he is not giving up.

And I don't think anyone should give up trying to improve and just milk it for the rest of the time. I simply can not buy that any pro anywhere should resign themselves to not trying - on some level of effort and it doesn't have to be Herculean - to improve some aspect of their playing, always.

If we combine our thoughts, then a player will continue to work on his weaknesses. But his weaknesses will not be his absolute weaknesses. They will be his strengths that are relatively weak compared to his other strengths. He is still striving to make gains, however.

...Geezer
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« Reply #19 on: Sep 11, 2017, 05:13PM »

When I posted this originally, I did not to intend for people to take it as being written expressively for musicians. The Bio page defines this person as a blogger, consultant and opinionated. Of course he is promoting himself and his company. Don't we as musicians do the same? What I looked at it was an opportunity to see musicians in a similar light. As a musician/educator, I see many of these qualities in students as well as fellow professional and amateur musicians.  Perhaps if we look at it as qualities or characteristics of people rather than classifications  we can see that we all exhibit traits from both sides.

I have experienced "amateurs" who are very "professional" in their  approach to music and "professionals" who are very amateurish in their approach. Ex: someone who is very talented but shows up late and complains throughout an entire gig versus a person who arrives on time, sits down, shuts up and plays their part the best they can. It could be someone from either classification, couldn't it?

I still think he is pretty spot on with most of his comments no matter whether describing people in the business world or the music world.

"And so it goes..."
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« Reply #20 on: Sep 11, 2017, 05:31PM »

They're kind of like horoscope statements.  You can see yourself in them or not depending on your outlook.
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Robert Holmén

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« Reply #21 on: Sep 11, 2017, 06:23PM »

Hi After playing professionally for some years and after experiencing the music scene, I quit  professional music because after witnessing  what happens I decided that I liked music too much to remain a professional. It is just a job to a lot of professionals. I know a lot of retired pro's who never play another note after they retire. You don't often see a retired tradesman, eg Plumbers, bricklayers etc who continue to hone their skills after the retire. I am now 88 and continue to practice every day. Currently practicing the old William Tell for a coming concert. I was never a soloist as such though I have played a lot of them, I was most happy as a team player and I can now concentrate on mentoring my students. The conductor of the orchestra is one if my ex students who started his own production company to perform opera and ballet. The older I get the better I used to be but I'm still sure the music is a great saviour. I have lost two wives to cancer and I get on my horn and blow the hell out of it. Thank god for the trombone.
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« Reply #22 on: Sep 11, 2017, 06:32PM »

Hi After playing professionally for some years and after experiencing the music scene, I quit  professional music because after witnessing  what happens I decided that I liked music too much to remain a professional. It is just a job to a lot of professionals. I know a lot of retired pro's who never play another note after they retire. You don't often see a retired tradesman, eg Plumbers, bricklayers etc who continue to hone their skills after the retire. I am now 88 and continue to practice every day. Currently practicing the old William Tell for a coming concert. I was never a soloist as such though I have played a lot of them, I was most happy as a team player and I can now concentrate on mentoring my students. The conductor of the orchestra is one if my ex students who started his own production company to perform opera and ballet. The older I get the better I used to be but I'm still sure the music is a great saviour. I have lost two wives to cancer and I get on my horn and blow the hell out of it. Thank god for the trombone.

That's inspiring!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

...Geezer
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« Reply #23 on: Sep 11, 2017, 06:33PM »

88 eh?
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« Reply #24 on: Sep 11, 2017, 06:51PM »

Back to the original post. After spending about 30 years reading self-help books (I stopped 10 years ago), the article is typical of gimmicks to draw 30-somethings into some thought provoking ideas. I seriously doubt that the author had to make a choice of doing something for money or doing it for love. The article is more about behaving like a professional or not.

In the past 10 years, I have been so very fortunate to meet some lifetime trombone pros who still get a kick out of playing into their 70s. They have both my admiration and my envy.

And to Max's post, yes he is 88. I know a few other near-nonagenarians who can still really play and good for them all.
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« Reply #25 on: Sep 11, 2017, 11:14PM »

That is a very interesting point and I can get what you mean. At a certain point, you dance with who brung you.

And yet there is an element of resignation and/or giving up that I am not comfortable with. I told my physician last month during a routine exam that this 69-year old runs 3 miles every morning and then lifts weights for strength gain for 1/2 hour afterwards. I told him I am not ready to give up.

And I don't think any player - regardless of what he has attained - should give up either. Now, that doesn't mean he should drive himself mad by unnecessarily pushing himself. But I think there should always be a certain amount of pushing oneself to do those things that he would like to do better, even if it isn't on the current dinner plate.

There is a gentleman on this Forum (I hope he is still on) who has retired from professional playing. Now he is trying to make those improvements to his playing that (if I understand him correctly) he had always wanted to do. Even in retirement, he is not giving up.

And I don't think anyone should give up trying to improve and just milk it for the rest of the time. I simply can not buy that any pro anywhere should resign themselves to not trying - on some level of effort and it doesn't have to be Herculean - to improve some aspect of their playing, always.

If we combine our thoughts, then a player will continue to work on his weaknesses. But his weaknesses will not be his absolute weaknesses. They will be his strengths that are relatively weak compared to his other strengths. He is still striving to make gains, however.

...Geezer

Yes I agree with that general sentiment. My point (and I think the point the author was making) was not that a professional should not try to improve and just milk what they have for the rest of their career, but more that at some point, your strengths will define the kind of playing you will do professionally, and you might want to put the time you have in improving those aspects of your playing that you are actually banking on.

In other words, finding ways to sell what you're already doing well (and to keep improving that) is more likely to make you succeed professionally than working on your weaknesses and hoping somebody will notice that you got generally better.


A good image is this : you want to cross a corn field that has a few pre-existing paths going across it. Even if some paths may make more turns, or lead to dead ends, it's still going to be faster to just follow these paths than trying to force and cut your way through the crops until you've cut down the whole field.

Another one : playing an instrument is a quest, but it's also an adventure. Circumstances affect your quest - and letting yourself find something nice you weren't searching for may be just as fun as finding what you were actually looking for.
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« Reply #26 on: Sep 12, 2017, 12:38AM »

What I have seen is that nearly all play because they love music. At least that is the start point for most people. For amateurs I believe the social factor also is high. For professional musicians there can be one disturbing factor; money....how to make a secure life with family, house, car etc.

The pressure for result is in fact high also among many amateur bands, orchestras around. I just see some of the brass bands here in Norway.

There is all types of persons in everything but I see there is often lot of humble and clever people that survive in the professional life.
I also see there sometimes is a lack of joy in the professional world. Especially among some string players. Trombone players are often more enthusiastic of course!

Leif
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