Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length

 
Advanced search

1092460 Posts in 72163 Topics- by 19436 Members - Latest Member: Pablo3A
Jump to:  
Pages: 1 2 3 4 [All]   Go Down
Print
Author Topic: Freelance Trombone Playing Query  (Read 46563 times)
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
LX

*
Offline Offline

Location: Los Angeles
Joined: Jan 12, 2005
Posts: 738

View Profile
« on: Nov 19, 2007, 12:23PM »

I just got a nice note from a young trombonist who is figuring out where he wants to live and how to go about establishing a career in music. He asked me for some general advice and I thought I'd share it here too.

Best wishes,

LX
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi _______,

Thanks for writing.

As I see it, success as a freelance trombonist requires a combination of well-rounded competence, personal reliability, musical consistency, patience, trustworthy-ness, diligence, humility, knowledge of your own strengths and weaknesses, a total love of music [regardless of the kind of musical situations you find yourself--if the music on a given gig is not "your thing", you play the gig the best you can, you keep quiet, you take the money and go home], and there's also a significant amount of plain old luck.

Luck enters with regard to where and when certain critical people hear you play, so it's always important to play and be your best in whatever situation you agree to commit to [no matter how "lame" it may be or how much/little it pays!!]. It is important to always...above all, actually....to do something to remind yourself why you took up your instrument in the first place every single day. Before music was a business for any of us, it was something we LOVED to do. Certain players usually get hired in part because they vividly communicate this love they have for Music, so it is not trivial to a successful music BUSINESS outlook. Any given gig might be a drag, but Music is what we really love. People [not just audiences, but the people who hire you] will pick up on this important characteristic. I have witnessed world-class players not get hired back because they just looked like they were having a lousy time on the gig. And I am not talking about "schmoozing", or just trying to be funny or popular, or pretending to be something you're not. It is a part of successful player's total character.

As I say all this, keep in mind I "broke into" the business starting about 25 years ago. A lot has changed since then. The musical demands for players has changed, the taste/s of the public has changed, the music business has changed, technology has changed. Anyone who is successful NOW probably went about certain things quite differently than someone expecting to establish themselves STARTING today! Watch, observe,listen and treat people with respect. You play WITH not THROUGH other people. Freelancing is not a race, it is a more of a potluck dinner. Everyone brings something for everyone else to enjoy. Sure, there are comparisons between who is the better player [or who makes the best potato salad!], but leave that to others to judge you in comparison to other players. You focus on what comes out of your horn and what comes [or DOESN'T come] out of your mouth.

For all but the two or three players I can think of making their living as soloists, professional trombone playing is still centered around the ability to BLEND in an ensemble situation. The players I like to play with the most [even though many of these players might also be well-known soloists!!] make the act of playing music comfortable and easy for everyone around them-regardless of the "style"! They pay attention, they listen, they play with a great sound. Since they pay attention THE FIRST TIME, they don't feel the need to ask too many questions in the process; they take in more than they "put out".

Again, given the chance, they can "step up and be noticed"--often on a world class level-- but they also know when to tuck in and blend. They play with consistent time, pitch and dynamics. If placed in a "lead" chair, they treat others with respect and instantly remove any doubt as to what they are going to do musically while remaining open to alternative approaches. If they are placed in a section chair, they do so without complaint or fanfare [yes, that was a 'round about trumpet player reference ;-)]

Sure, we all have egos and each of us wishes we were getting the acclaim as players we deserve. But we also deserve the chance to prove ourselves in a section position. One of the busiest and most well-known lead trumpet players in the world has said, "I pay my bills playing second and third trumpet on movies." So he is in-demand in either case...lead or section. Diversification can lead to more opportunities.

The players I like to play with "check their egos at the door" and focus on making the most of the music in front of them.

They know how to tap and communicate the music in whatever style of the music they are asked to play--whether they "like" that kind of music or not. If there are kinds of music you cannot hide your hatred or discomfort from, save everyone [including yourself] the hassle--turn the gig down next time!!

In other words, successful freelancers tend to know what they are getting in to!! If it is something they don't feel like they can do, they know when to admit it to the leader, composer or conductor and even recommend someone who does. They avoid these types of situations, however, by constantly seeking out new musical opportunities and putting in the time and effort to learn how to deal with them. They have curiosity and use it to grow and adapt.

Successful freelancers have well-rounded abilities in many things inside and/or outside music. They adjust, they cope, they tend to help others do the same.

Successful freelancers are usually easy to get in touch with. Even if they are NOT available for the gig, they are available to reach. They return phone calls. They're pleasant to talk to. They don't complain much, but are usually quick to address or point out important/controversial issues of concern to whatever group they are a part of.

Out here in LA, these days, it feels like our business has been changing on almost a daily basis!! No one has a crystal ball which outlines what the future holds for us as musicians--and trombonists are at the bottom of this particular food chain too. Trombone players have lived with the "Last hired, first fired" joke/philosophy ever since the last of the big bands were replaced by rock and roll bands at school dances. But many of us have managed to survive these changes. Perhaps we provide an example to other "busier" instruments of how to adapt to the ever-changing world of the "music business". I predict it will continue to become less and less likely that a trombonist in his/her 20's will be able to make their living ONLY as a player. There will be exceptions. A few great players will get a few of the necessary "breaks" and get in there, but the bad news is very few of us [since we are basically "fired" when we leave a gig] ever feel completely "in there".

I think some people new to this world tend to consider music from a very personal point of view, and only judge what it must be like to play trombone professionally based on what they hear on certain players solo cd's. That's fine,but there are many ways of making a living in music and there are often alternatives that you must consider when you decide to do it for a living. Sometimes that might include teaching, arranging, producing, contracting groups, or even a flexible NON music job.

Each person I work with has arrived at his/her current position of the "pecking order" [which doesn't really exist on paper anywhere!] in his/her own way. Some have self-promoted quite a bit, others totally let their playing do all the talking. One thing I say to many of my students is that no one really wants to hear "what you can do" they want to "hear you do it"!!

Also, a very wise freelance oboist I know said, "Everyone I know who talked themselves IN to a job has immediately or eventually talked their way OUT of it!!"

No matter where you end up living, just keep listening and sharing your love of music!!

Best wishes,

Alex
-----------------------------------------------------------
Logged

"Perfection is a achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
ghenly

*
Offline Offline

Location: Twin Cities MN
Joined: Jul 10, 2005
Posts: 47

View Profile
« Reply #1 on: Nov 19, 2007, 03:15PM »

Thanks for a great posting! This strikes me as good advice for anyone who wants to play 'professionally,'  regardless of whether they expect to be reimbursed monetarily.
Logged

It always seems like a good idea at the time.
Gabe Langfur

*
Offline Offline

Location: Boston, MA, USA
Joined: Apr 9, 2000
Posts: 5007

View Profile WWW
« Reply #2 on: Nov 19, 2007, 04:59PM »

Thank you Alex. Very well put.

Logged

Gabe Langfur
Bass Trombonist
Rhode Island Philharmonic
Vermont Symphony
Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass

Trombone Faculty
Boston University
Kinhaven Music School
Wellesley College

S. E. Shires Artist
ctingle

*
Offline Offline

Location: NorCal - San Francisco bay area
Joined: May 1, 2001
Posts: leet

View Profile WWW
« Reply #3 on: Nov 19, 2007, 10:30PM »

Go Alex! 

One of the best posts on this forum I've ever seen.

Keep on spreading the good word,
Logged

Chip Tingle
Tenor & Bass Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba
NorCal freelancer & educator
415.898.8381
http://soundcloud.com/musichub recent demos
http://www.facebook.com/people/Chip-Tingle/1045829540
Thomas Matta

*
Offline Offline

Location: Chicago
Joined: Feb 12, 2005
Posts: 7150

View Profile WWW
« Reply #4 on: Nov 19, 2007, 10:46PM »

Beautiful, Alex!

Tim Coffman, my dear colleague and free-lance trombonist buddy here in Chicago, has a great bit of advice he is always reminding me of when I start wanting to speak up or "go-off" on someone - and he credits Keith Brown with the wisdom:

"Never pass up an opportunity to shut the f%#+ up!"

(Sorry for the profanity!)
Logged

Thomas Matta
Associate Professor of Jazz Studies, DePaul University
www.tommattabigband.com
LX

*
Offline Offline

Location: Los Angeles
Joined: Jan 12, 2005
Posts: 738

View Profile
« Reply #5 on: Nov 19, 2007, 10:56PM »

Thanks for the nice responses. I am always altering this little "speech" I give students and I love hearing other people's ideas on the subject. Most young people who usually pose this question are very sincere and I really do think it's important to offer constructive suggestions.

Tom, I love Tim's line. I am reminded of one of trombonist Bruce Otto's many memorable one-liners ...

"Think before you speak. Then DON'T."

 Idea!
Logged

"Perfection is a achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
martian

*
Offline Offline

Location: Auckland - New Zealand
Joined: Nov 4, 2006
Posts: 421

View Profile
« Reply #6 on: Nov 19, 2007, 11:14PM »

Dispite my lack of interest in playing trombone professionally (I'm just not good enough) I found your post interesting and thought provoking. I like your philosophy and your honest and articulate voicing of it.

good post

 Good!
Logged
bassclef

*
Offline Offline

Location: Massillon, OH
Joined: Dec 2, 2002
Posts: 772

View Profile
« Reply #7 on: Nov 21, 2007, 02:17PM »

thanks for the free lesson, lx.

erudite advice from someone who has been out there doin' it just about was well as it can be done.

may i suggest that a moderator sets this thread to stick around at the top of this board going forward?

valuable stuff.
Logged

Aaron Thornberry
Bass & Tenor Trombonist
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
fsgazda

*
Offline Offline

Location: Dover, Delaware, USA
Joined: Jan 30, 2002
Posts: 880

View Profile WWW
« Reply #8 on: Nov 21, 2007, 05:26PM »

Outstanding, valuable advice!  The kind of thing that I need to remind myself of from time to time.
Logged

Professor of Music, Delaware State University, Dover, DE.
denny seifried

*
Offline Offline

Location: Springfield, OH
Joined: Oct 28, 2001
Posts: 3727

View Profile
« Reply #9 on: Nov 22, 2007, 09:54PM »

Hi Alex----A great bunch of advice for all of us to ponder.

Thanks for sharing it with all of us! Good!
Logged

Denny Seifried
Bass Trombone
Dayton Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Central Big Band, Mojo Brass & Springfield (OH) Symphony
BBb Tuba Ohio Valley British Brass Band (OVBBB) & Western Ohio Tuba Quartet
Adjunct Trombone-Wittenberg Univ. Dept. of Music
djdekok

*
Offline Offline

Location: Norristown PA
Joined: Sep 25, 2001
Posts: 4137
"Monsters Eat Whiny Children"


View Profile WWW
« Reply #10 on: Nov 23, 2007, 08:36AM »

Beautiful, Alex!

Tim Coffman, my dear colleague and free-lance trombonist buddy here in Chicago, has a great bit of advice he is always reminding me of when I start wanting to speak up or "go-off" on someone - and he credits Keith Brown with the wisdom:

"Never pass up an opportunity to shut the f%#+ up!"

(Sorry for the profanity!)

LOLOLOL

How true!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the advice LX gives.

It's solid advice that can be applied to ANY walk of life, really.  Do the job, even the parts you don't like; Find something to love in the most impossible people and build them up; Love your Music; Take care of yourself, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and Musically.
Logged

Daniel De Kok
Associate Principal, Southeastern Pennsylvania Symphony Orchestra
B.M. Michigan
M.M. Western Michigan
M.S.L.S. Clarion
ntap
*
Offline Offline

Location: New York, NY
Joined: Aug 14, 2007
Posts: 980

View Profile
« Reply #11 on: Nov 27, 2007, 12:23AM »

Good stuff, Alex, thanks.

It's been a while since this screen has been enlightened.



Logged

Listen, watch and get in touch at www.nickgrinder.com
BoneCall

*
Offline Offline

Location:
Joined: Jun 8, 2002
Posts: 1585

View Profile
« Reply #12 on: Nov 27, 2007, 02:10AM »

What a great post! Nice responses too. Thanks LX.
Logged
slidemansailor

*
Offline Offline

Location: Conner, Montana
Joined: May 3, 2007
Posts: 1083
"off the edge of the trombone planet"


View Profile WWW
« Reply #13 on: Nov 27, 2007, 08:45AM »

I'm thinking the advice applies just as well to amateurs who want opportunities to play with other musicians. If you are in a group of any kind, blending, contributing and fitting in as a person, people around you can visualize inviting you to do more of that in other places.  Fitting well in a church band could get you invited to a chair in a dance band... and so on.
Logged

Turn off your TV. Make some beautiful music.

'06 Conn 88 HCL  .525/.547   5G
'58 Conn 6H   .500   6 1/2 AL
'74 Yamaha YSL354    .500   6 1/2 AL
'49 Harry Pedler American Triumph   Lyle 7

http://bitterrootbugle.com
http://teddunlap.net
D Gibson
« Reply #14 on: Nov 27, 2007, 09:31AM »

I was told, some 20 years ago, that you have to be so good that they miss you when you're not on the gig.  It's very nice to read your advice Alex, and be reminded of that. 

I have noticed that many of the younger cats that show up on the scene have the wrong idea.  They're busy trying to show everyone what they can do without checking out what the older cats can do.  If you're in a section next to Benny Powell, why are you trying to impress him?  Think about all the situations that he has experienced.  Think about the great players that have sat next to him...or in front of him and behind him.  Listen to what he says.  Watch what he does.  If you want to be sitting in that chair for the next 40 years, there is a template readily available. 

You are, in my humble opinion, right on the mark about loving Music.  I, like most of us who freelance, have an opportunity to experience plenty of musicians who are "burned out" or jaded.  They "never got their due" attention or respect and now they're making us all pay for it.  One such experience started me thinking recently.  It started me thinking critically about myself, too.  I tried to remember what it was to first understand an altered dominant chord.  I remember being able to connect to timbre to a definition in my mind.  I remember when I found the notes I liked in the chord.  I remember being so excited and energized.  Why has that joy of discovery subsided?  It's difficult to keep that kind of excitement and energy if we don't continue on the journey of discovery....and most importantly, if we need someone else to notice.  When we're in school, there is always someone there telling us when we did it right, or on which things we need to improve.  But, in the real world, we have to adjust our minds to be both critical and rewarding to ourselves. We have to do the internal work and take the results to the bandstand.  If we go to the bandstand looking for someone to notice our progress or reward us for it, we'll probably be disappointed.  It is expected that we'll sound great....we're professionals. 

Thanks for spurring further thought, Alex.  I hope we'll have a chance to sit in a section some time.  Right now....it's a little too far to commute. 


DG
Logged
LX

*
Offline Offline

Location: Los Angeles
Joined: Jan 12, 2005
Posts: 738

View Profile
« Reply #15 on: Nov 27, 2007, 11:25AM »

I was told, some 20 years ago, that you have to be so good that they miss you when you're not on the gig.  It's very nice to read your advice Alex, and be reminded of that. 

I have noticed that many of the younger cats that show up on the scene have the wrong idea.  They're busy trying to show everyone what they can do without checking out what the older cats can do.  If you're in a section next to Benny Powell, why are you trying to impress him?  Think about all the situations that he has experienced.  Think about the great players that have sat next to him...or in front of him and behind him.  Listen to what he says.  Watch what he does.  If you want to be sitting in that chair for the next 40 years, there is a template readily available. 

You are, in my humble opinion, right on the mark about loving Music.  I, like most of us who freelance, have an opportunity to experience plenty of musicians who are "burned out" or jaded.  They "never got their due" attention or respect and now they're making us all pay for it.  One such experience started me thinking recently.  It started me thinking critically about myself, too.  I tried to remember what it was to first understand an altered dominant chord.  I remember being able to connect to timbre to a definition in my mind.  I remember when I found the notes I liked in the chord.  I remember being so excited and energized.  Why has that joy of discovery subsided?  It's difficult to keep that kind of excitement and energy if we don't continue on the journey of discovery....and most importantly, if we need someone else to notice.  When we're in school, there is always someone there telling us when we did it right, or on which things we need to improve.  But, in the real world, we have to adjust our minds to be both critical and rewarding to ourselves. We have to do the internal work and take the results to the bandstand.  If we go to the bandstand looking for someone to notice our progress or reward us for it, we'll probably be disappointed.  It is expected that we'll sound great....we're professionals. 

Thanks for spurring further thought, Alex.  I hope we'll have a chance to sit in a section some time.  Right now....it's a little too far to commute. 


DG

Somebody once said to me that he thought great players he'd observed tend to "take in" more than they "put out", even when they are "putting out" a lot!!

Listening means so much more than we usually realize.

Bob McChesney often tells students who want "quick" answers that he won't give them because he does not want to get in the way of the student's own discovery process. As you say so clearly, Dave; it is often the act of discovery itself [and not someone just giving you the "answer"] that makes the things you learn that much more vivid and long-lasting. There are many pieces of the jigsaw puzzle right in front of us. What a great feeling it is when you find a couple of them that fit together just right.

Maybe this is something that students in educational institutions seem to over-look: The act of learning itself [not necessarily "what" you learn] is one of the greatest rewards of education.

Great ideas, Dave.

I too, look forward to playing/hearing some music with you sometime.

The work commute just around town here is getting too far sometimes... >:(

Best wishes,

LX
Logged

"Perfection is a achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
dj kennedy

*
Offline Offline

Location: chester illinois usa
Joined: Dec 17, 2000
Posts: 12186

View Profile
« Reply #16 on: Nov 29, 2007, 08:53AM »

thanks  lx
 that was  great  !!!!!!!
-----
its  the  free  part 
to  jump  on the  bus
 the ship
the  plane
-------
the   movie  music
  theres another  story
sinatra  and streisland   elvis   even
live  and  lifestyle
  ----------
dick  nash  for  sure  --man  he  coulda sold  cars  !!!!!!!!!! lotsa  cars  !!!!!!!
-----------
day  gigs  -------?????????????
------------
piano -keyboards -writing --arranging  --[reggie  watkins]
-----------
genius  guys  and  gals 
incredible  talent  and  smarts[[[[and  a few weirdos]]]]]
------------
SUPPORT  GROUP  !!!!!!!!!!!!!
--------------
FORGEDDIDABOUT   ----------
ever see  a  trombone on american idol  ?????????????????
===========
hey  lx  are   you  going to  salt  lake  ??????????
mc  chez     is  wanting to  do something too
================
rodney  lancaster 
came  over  yesterday
 hes  shipping  out  on the  8th
---------
new  guys  at  semo  and  siu
 -----
the new  guy  at  siu ---thats  the  way   i  like   uh  huh    uh     ----kc  band
 his  buddy  is  the  new sax  guy  too
===============
==============
more advice [[ha  ha  ]
get  a buddy  who is  a  sax player[roland  barber -delfayo]
==================




Logged

XXXXooOOOOOXXXXXXXXX
LUCKY  LUCKY LUCKY  !!!!!!!!!!
LX

*
Offline Offline

Location: Los Angeles
Joined: Jan 12, 2005
Posts: 738

View Profile
« Reply #17 on: Nov 29, 2007, 09:02AM »

Quote
FORGEDDIDABOUT   ----------
ever see  a  trombone on american idol  ?????????????????

Well, yes. His name is Arturo Velasco and he is one of the cats in the band making everyone else sound great [or at least "better"]. ;-)
Logged

"Perfection is a achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Donward59
« Reply #18 on: Dec 03, 2007, 08:54PM »

There's no shortage of first-rate trombone playing. When you show up in a big city and want to work,there are a couple of things to bear in mind-there are already plenty of good players who have been at it for a while. If you play really well,you may get some work. If you play better than anyone(Highly unlikely),but not impossible,you may be busy sooner than later. The other thing is versatility-How many styles of music can you feel really comfortable in? How quickly can you adapt to a situation and become almost invisible in a constructive way?
Logged
Dan Satterwhite

*
Offline Offline

Location: FL
Joined: Mar 2, 2003
Posts: 1036

View Profile
« Reply #19 on: Dec 04, 2007, 05:16AM »

Quote
Maybe this is something that students in educational institutions seem to over-look: The act of learning itself [not necessarily "what" you learn] is one of the greatest rewards of education.

VERY wise words!
Logged

Dan Satterwhite
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
D Gibson
« Reply #20 on: Dec 05, 2007, 06:34AM »

Most of my teaching is in a liberal arts context.  I feel that learning is the only goal.  I receive much joy from helping students develop a higher and more sophisticated awareness of all of the facets of music.  By recognizing all of the nuances present in the art of making "music", they can either enjoy music more or create music better....or both.  This ends up being my most rewarding teaching, since the agendas of the students are limited.  They are only there to "learn". 

But, when I have students with designs on being a professional musician, the situation can get much more dicey.  They have, in many of the difficult cases, already established an agenda and begun on a path.  If I think they should back up and notice something they may have missed, they are more inclined to resist my implied indictment of them or their agenda.  These students are wasting time for both of us.  I always offer that I am not better than my students, but just further along a path that they may be on too.  I share what I have noticed and learned along the way.  I don't have all the answers, but I do have experiences to share.  I can see immediately when someone is bs'ing me and themselves.  Sometimes, students approach me in hopes of me getting them a gig.  That rarely happens.  That would require me to have too much work and decide to give extra work to someone I just met instead of someone else who has been living in NYC for years with a family and a track record of excellent performance and professionalism.  There are cases wherein I might throw something to a new guy, but it probably won't pay anything....or be such a terrible situation that I couldn't call certain people to do it.  So...these students lose all the way around.  They don't "get a gig" and they don't learn anything.  Too bad. 

DG
Logged
Pyrepapayabeast

*
Offline Offline

Location: Vermont
Joined: Oct 13, 2002
Posts: 382

View Profile
« Reply #21 on: Dec 26, 2007, 08:42PM »

As a trombonist who is just breaking into the world of freelancing, I want to echo the wisdom of many of the other trombonists on this post.  I'm 25 and hopefully going to grad school in the fall, and I spend a little time freelancing.  I'm from an insanely small state, so I don't depend on freelancing gigs for any type of income, it's more gaining experience, and the extra bucks certainly can come in handy.  I just thought I'd relate some of my experiences as someone just starting.

In high school, my teacher told me to simply play as much as possible.  I got into a couple community bands as well as playing in my high school bands and festivals.  This proved to be a really good place to start, because it was a lot of fun and I made many contacts ... several of whom are still the people who most often hire me for paid gigs.

The common thread in this ... well, thread ... seems to be the willingness to be diverse.  My paid gigs are insanely varied ... I've played for church events, in orchestras, jazz groups, a funk/rock band, on the local late night TV show, pit orchestras for community theaters and school musicals, parades (on Sousaphone ...).  I've done my best to always show up with a positive attitude with the music prepared (granted, that doesn't always require hours and hours practice depending on the nature of the gig  ;-) ).

There has never been a gig I've done that I haven't learned something from, no matter what the "level" of playing is.  I use every experience to make me a better musician, and that attitude has a positive effect on everyone.  I've also found that it occasionally leads to moving up on the "list" of players, even past people who have done specific gigs for years.

I have nothing really "new" to add, I just really want to reinforce these ideas, because there's a lot of wisdom in this post, and all of it has worked for me.  I have the chops, sure (not that I don't need an insane amount of work, mind ...  :D), but a willingness to take every gig possible with a smile on my face has done wonders for my freelancing, my playing, and (of course) myself as a person!

Edit: oh yeah, and believe me, I got a TON out of reading these posts that I can use myself!!
Logged
griffinben

*
Offline Offline

Location: The Wilds of the Northeast
Joined: Jan 28, 2003
Posts: 2541

View Profile
« Reply #22 on: Dec 27, 2007, 03:14PM »

This is great...

I would only say one other thing:  Know Thyself

There's a lot of really fine musicians that take different paths. 

The ones that get a charge just out of playing will make the freelancing scene better.  Enough has been said already about what to do in that department.

The ones that only want to make art should maybe think of making a backup plan to support themselves so they can pursue music in a way that is untouched by the necessities of eating.  Yeah yeah, when you're young and excited you maybe want to live that poor lifestyle, pay those dues, not eat well, live in a dive and just play.  It's romantic for a while and exciting.  But that stuff gets old as you get older, and sooner or later you'll wish you had something else to get you out of the poor house.  Nobody you play with will care what you do to pay the bills if you're good enough to make the music. 

I know quite a few people who are really happy doing the both the former and the latter.  And there's quite a few who might be happier had they chosen the latter rather than the former.

Know Thyself!

-Ben

PS i hope I haven't violated the rule of "thinking about what to say and then not..."
Logged
BGuttman
Mad Chemist

*
*
Offline Offline

Location: Londonderry, NH, USA
Joined: Dec 12, 2000
Posts: 51533
"Almost Professional"


View Profile
« Reply #23 on: Dec 28, 2007, 05:57AM »

This becomes a very interesting discussion, especially for our younger members.

When you are in High School, you really don't see what options are available to you in the world.  Often you are a member of the Band/Orchestra/jazz band, etc. and you think "wow, this is great fun and I'd love to do this as my job".

There are several thousand high schools in this country and each one has at least 50-75 kids who are making music.  That means there are tens of thousands of musicians out there.  And the market for these people is in the range of a few hundreds.  This is a really tight market!!

Our young players need to sit back and see what options there are in the world.  Some of us work in High Tech.  Others of us work in Merchandising.  Still others in Finance.  Others work in Education.  And some, a glorious few, actually make their living playing trombone.  I know it sometimes makes me look like the Grinch, pouring cold water on everybody's dreams, but I feel that a cold, sober decision has to be made about what you want to do.  I have met indifferent players who are excellent music teachers and music store owners/employees.  To be a good teacher requires really connecting with kids.  To be a good music store owner requires knowledge of business and a very people-directed attitude.  Not necessarily the traits that will make you the Lead Trombone in Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra or the New York Philharmonic.

I don't think any High Schooler has an appreciation of what being a Mechanical Engineer, Tax Accountant, or Database Programmer involves.  It might actually be fun!  Some of us wear our vocations on our sleeves, and I for one invite all the kids who might be interested in my situation to either open a topic or PM me to find out what it's like to be working as a Chemical Engineer or Chemist and free-lance sometime player.
Logged

Bruce Guttman
Solo Trombone, Hollis Town Band
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orch. President 2017-2018
Pyrepapayabeast

*
Offline Offline

Location: Vermont
Joined: Oct 13, 2002
Posts: 382

View Profile
« Reply #24 on: Dec 28, 2007, 03:46PM »

Absolutely!  I get tired of hearing people tell kids that they can be anything they dream to be ... it's not bad to dream, but they always leave out the part "... if you work your butt off for it."

I definitely don't know if I have what it takes to make money playing trombone, but I'm certainly going to try.  I dream of getting a full time job as a musician, but as BGuttman points out, there are a lot of folks vying for a very few jobs.

There are so many things to do in the musical world besides just playing.  If I don't become a full-time trombone player, I certainly want to do something else related to music.

Some of my musical buddies are computer programmers who play and teach part-time.  They love it.  There really isn't an end to the options available.
Logged
Chris Fidler

*
Offline Offline

Location: UK
Joined: Nov 20, 2006
Posts: 2268

View Profile
« Reply #25 on: Dec 28, 2007, 04:09PM »

Live it, dream it, eat it, believe in yourself AND WORK YOUR BUTT OFF!!!!!!!!!

I remember going to careers advice and telling them i wanted to be a professional trombonist....... They almost laughed me out of the room!!!!!

I didn't listen to a word of their doubting confidence.

I've been a professional trombonist for 25 years.
It is tough but worth it.

BUT you REALLY have to WANT to do it........ Come what may!!!!!!

P.S. I knew that i wanted to do this from about the age of 11.
Logged

The wise musicians are those who play what they can master.
Duke Ellington
D Gibson
« Reply #26 on: Dec 28, 2007, 04:23PM »

In the freelance world, there is no such thing as stability.  Getting a great gig and doing a good job are good for your resume, but even the best gig is akin to being elected President for one day.  The next day, you're back at the beginning again.  That is what many fail to remember.  You are your own business and you're the product.  Work is never guaranteed.  For those who wish to own their own business, realize that there are much more profitable ways to make a living.  For those who wish to make music, realize that you always struggle to find the next gig. 

When I moved to NYC, I spent my first summer traveling with Slide Hampton.  Next, I toured with the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni.  Next, I worked in the sales department at Boosey and Hawkes.  Then I played a bunch of weddings.  Then I worked a temp job doing data entry.  Then I made a record.  Then I did some more weddings.  Then I toured with the Dizzy band again.  Then I led my own gigs at clubs in the city.  Then I did some teaching.  Then I played more weddings. 

What I enjoy as much or more than music is people.  I like being around good people.  I'm lucky that I get to do this...but not always.  There are plenty of work situations that involve folks with which I would rather not work.  But, I have to eat.  And, I have to make music. 

DG
Logged
Bonefide
*
Offline Offline

Location: Boston, MA
Joined: Dec 25, 2007
Posts: 652

View Profile
« Reply #27 on: Dec 28, 2007, 04:24PM »

Wonderful thread!!!

A lot of the ideas apply to more than just freelancing, and I have definitely tried to make a point of "checking my ego at the door".  Hopefully, more trombone players will catch on to that idea.   :D

Although it is a little disheartening to realize how hard it is to make a living strictly playing trombone, it doesn't necessarily mean "give up faith".  I haven't quite decided what I want to do with my life, nor do i feel immediate pressure to.  I could go the BGuttman way and pursue physics and be a civil or mechanical engineer to pay the bills, and play with local bands and whatnot.  Then again, I could toss physics on the backburner and just use it for some light reading, and becoming a music teacher.  Who knows.

Regardless of my rambling, this thread was a great read, and I'm loving all the words of wisdom.
Logged
LX

*
Offline Offline

Location: Los Angeles
Joined: Jan 12, 2005
Posts: 738

View Profile
« Reply #28 on: Dec 28, 2007, 07:44PM »

There seems to be another couple of important themes emerging here related to self awareness, and an individual's musical diversity.

When Dave said

Quote
If you want to be sitting in that chair for the next 40 years, there is a template readily available.

 it reminds me how important it is to really listen and observe everything about how established players and colleagues conduct themselves as musicians and as humans. You learn more than just the musical stuff this way.

I found Ben’s saying, "Know thyself" so true on many levels. The first person you need to be “true” [honest] with is yourself. Again, listening and observation are the tools at your disposal. But you have to also be open to realize that there might be parts of yourself you have not yet discovered so don't jump to too many conclusions there either. In other words, don’t ever stop GETTING to "Know thyself"!

Some people see themselves within a box; "I don't improvise." or "I don't play [this or that] kind of music." But you don't really know anything like this until you've given yourself the right amount of concentrated exposure combined with how much you really know and love about the music at hand.

When you were a 2 month old baby, if someone said, "Ok, stand up and put that cup of water on that coaster." You wouldn't have been able to do it--you couldn't walk, let alone stand up... you didn't know what "cup", "coaster" or "put" meant and you didn't even have the language skills to understand that this was even a sentence directed at you in the first place! But, in less than 3 years you would. Luckily for you, you didn't know how little you knew!!  You learned to do thousands of things you once hadn't the foggiest clue how to do!

At the risk of sounding redundant...

There are many ways of being "diverse".  :)

As Bruce said so well [and even was kind enough to volunteer time to privately answer inquiries  Good! Good! Good!] it is wise to remain realistic about the way you are going to make a living. If you have a way to tolerably make a living and still create and/or play music...that could be the way to go for you. It worked t various times for Charles Ives and JJ Johnson [both of whom worked non music jobs at the heights of their music careers].

But just because you might end up making your living outside music does not mean you EVER have to sacrifice pursuing your musical path. A path that should, in my opinion, be there REGARDLESS of the make-a-living part.

And this is a path without a foreseeable final destination!

Commit to being the best and most realized musician you can be. The "destination" is merely a by-product.

That is why for a young musician to say, "one day I am going to be in a major symphony orchestra" or "...be a studio musician" or "...be a jazz musician" seems kind of illogical in the music world as I have observed it to be. If you are that singularly focussed, fine, but there are MANY ways to make music and there are just as many if not MORE ways to make a good living.

I once had a sax player friend [very committed to jazz and improvisation who reached a VERY respectable level] who, in his frustration with lack of work tell me, “You know, I think that’s it!! I’ve had it. I am going to make a smooth jazz/Kenny G kind of recording. I’m done trying to convince contractors and leaders that they should hire me based on the way I’ve been playing.”

My response was this....
“You want to record a bunch of music that contradicts everything you stand for musically? And you also then want to be hired instead of people who DEFINE THEMSELVES MUSICALLY by that genre you can’t stand? Who are hiring agents more likely to chose to hire to play that music?”

Thanks for all the great responses to this topic.

Keep 'em coming!!

LX

Logged

"Perfection is a achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
BoneCall

*
Offline Offline

Location:
Joined: Jun 8, 2002
Posts: 1585

View Profile
« Reply #29 on: Dec 29, 2007, 02:29AM »

Quote
There are plenty of work situations that involve folks with which I would rather not work.  But, I have to eat.  And, I have to make music. 

Having to play in those situations is the disadvantage to being dependant on a freelancing lifestyle. If you care about the music inside yourself, playing jobs simply for the income they generate can be very destructive. I can testify about that first hand - after a year of Cats I wanted to throw my horn in the river. Maybe JJ and Charles Ives had the right idea, at least for future generations of trombonists who will, it seems, have even less opportunity than there is today.

On the other hand if playing the trombone becomes a more flexible undertaking, who knows what the future will bring.
Logged
Chris Fidler

*
Offline Offline

Location: UK
Joined: Nov 20, 2006
Posts: 2268

View Profile
« Reply #30 on: Dec 29, 2007, 03:55AM »

I can testify about that first hand - after a year of Cats I wanted to throw my horn in the river.

A year of playing the same stuff (especially Lloyd Webber) night after night would make anyone want to throw their horn in the river.

However with the right attitude to keep everything else going whilst having a regular gig like that can work to your advantage.
You ARE allowed nights off...... 28 days paid holiday too, plus you can give other players sub work!!!
That will also pay off as they will more than likely book you back.

The right Attitude works wonders for survival in this biz!!!!!!!
Logged

The wise musicians are those who play what they can master.
Duke Ellington
D Gibson
« Reply #31 on: Dec 29, 2007, 06:45AM »

I hear you, Jerry. The times when I am tempted to get upset about the quality of the music or musicians with which I am working are really opportunities for me to "grow up" and work on things other than music. I can work on my mental strength by clearly defining my expectations from a given situation. Or, I can focus on my airstream or my attacks. There are always challenges to be found and work that I can be doing. But, if I was doing one of these jobs every single day for a year, I would probably want to throw your horn in the river too....errrr...my horn in the river. ;-)

I can usually deal with a poor musical situation if I am encountering interesting and friendly people. Without the friendly folks, the challenge is much greater.

DG
Logged
BGuttman
Mad Chemist

*
*
Offline Offline

Location: Londonderry, NH, USA
Joined: Dec 12, 2000
Posts: 51533
"Almost Professional"


View Profile
« Reply #32 on: Dec 29, 2007, 10:22AM »

There have been other famous amateurs in the past.

The Russian "Mighty Five" (which included Balakirev, Borodin, Cui, Moussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov), all students of Glinka, made their livings from something other than music.

Borodin was a Professor of Chemistry.
Moussorgsky was a customs inspector (when he was sober).
Rimsky-Korsakov was a naval officer.

Their contemporary, Tchaikowsky, made his living as a Professor of Music.

There are people who should be professional musicians.  I see them a lot.  What they have in common:

1.  They would rather play music than anything else in the world.  Rather than eating, playing sports, or even sleeping.

2.  They are diligent in pursuing the minutiae of their instrument.  Wynton Marsalis was said to have left a lesson and worked on nothing but attacks for 8 hours straight.

3.  They have an aptitude and feel for musical style and interpretation that the "mechanical clock" players never master.

Sure, it's a tough business.  But some guys do make it.  It wasn't me.  I preferred to eat.  But I still love to play.  So I can do both.
Logged

Bruce Guttman
Solo Trombone, Hollis Town Band
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orch. President 2017-2018
LX

*
Offline Offline

Location: Los Angeles
Joined: Jan 12, 2005
Posts: 738

View Profile
« Reply #33 on: Dec 29, 2007, 12:02PM »

One of the things that I have learned from observing several well-established freelance players...

You bring your BEST game--whatever the gig. Great musicians who are true to Music sound great even in less-than-great musical situations. You are missing an opportunity if your perspective is so fogged up by your desire to be doing something else musically at that moment. As a professional musician, you are paid to make that music sound as great as you can make it regardless of the gig at hand. Some may see this as "turd polishing"...maybe sometimes it is... Don't know

And that might mean playing night after night in an orchestra pit.

It's really not that hard to change your perspective sometimes.

We all know Dick Nash, right?

Dick's son, Ted is one of the most respected and sought-after jazz saxophonists in NYC. He's played in the LCJO and also leads, tours and records extensively with his own groups. He also played in the pit for Cats on Broadway for several years. Maybe he's thought of that steady gig as his own miniature/personal version of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Andy Martin, besides being a well-known jazz and studio player is probably the top call player out here for Broadway shows. He's been doing Wicked for nearly the last year. And, let me tell you, he's at the TOP of his game right now. AND he plays that show the best he can night after night--and he does that VERY musically.

You cannot measure yourself [or anyone else] by what gig you [or he/she] are doing at any given moment. If a given gig "makes you want to throw your horn in the river" you are probably better off doing something else FOR A LIVING.

But Music will always be there!!

The music that successful freelancers care most about inside might have little to do with the gig they are doing on the outside. They just bring the best of what they have to share musically and personally to the job at hand,then take the check and head home.

Bass trombonist/teacher Terry Cravens has a great line about this idea. "Your main job you get paid to do is to take all that music piled on the right hand side of the music stand and get it all turned over face down to the left hand side of the music stand." The people who do that job MUSICALLY get invited back.

In the meantime, you listen and you practice and stay on your journey.

LX
Logged

"Perfection is a achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Chris Fidler

*
Offline Offline

Location: UK
Joined: Nov 20, 2006
Posts: 2268

View Profile
« Reply #34 on: Dec 29, 2007, 12:17PM »

Great post Alex!

My attitude is that I'd rather be out every day/night playing the horn than sitting at home moaning!!!!

Even the Broadway musical situation ain't that bad when you consider that you only have to work for 3 hours leaving around 15 waking hours a day to do whatever you want and not have to worry about putting food on the table.
Bob Mintzer told me he played Cats on Broadway!!!

 
Logged

The wise musicians are those who play what they can master.
Duke Ellington
BoneCall

*
Offline Offline

Location:
Joined: Jun 8, 2002
Posts: 1585

View Profile
« Reply #35 on: Dec 29, 2007, 01:48PM »

I've been lucky enough to be awarded a National Endowment grant LX, and I can tell you it has nothing whatsoever in common with playing in the pit at Cats.  :D

If the music that successful freelancers care most about inside has little to do with the gig they are doing on the outside then its a terrible indictment of the profession. Like Chris Fidler I knew early on that I wanted to be a musican but I also knew that whatever talent I had was not to be squandered on the "turd polishing" that makes up too much of freelancers schedule. I'd seen the toll freelancing took on older musicans who were robbed of any individuality they might have contributed to the music by being turned into sound alike plug and play modules. Only the very strongest retained any semblance of a really distinctive sound or indeed any real desire to make good music.  

But successful freelancers are able to make a living with their horn. And many pay a high price for it if they have any artistic aspirations. Perhaps freelancing as an artist is the modern equivalent of selling /surrendering your soul. Perhaps for many of the best artists their soul might be too important to part with.

Quote
"Your main job you get paid to do is to take all that music piled on the right hand side of the music stand and get it all turned over face down to the left hand side of the music stand."

What a wonderful career to aspire to.
Logged
Chris Fidler

*
Offline Offline

Location: UK
Joined: Nov 20, 2006
Posts: 2268

View Profile
« Reply #36 on: Dec 29, 2007, 02:13PM »

It is possible to mix the 2 I call Bread and Butter gigs and Artistic gigs.

Both contribute to having a career in music and making you a better musician!!!

Jerry I know that you play a few bread and butter gigs with your wedding band. You simply can't make a decent living here only playing Jazz!!!!!



What's the National endowment grant you've been awarded then?
Is that that a recent thing here in Hamburg?
Logged

The wise musicians are those who play what they can master.
Duke Ellington
ctingle

*
Offline Offline

Location: NorCal - San Francisco bay area
Joined: May 1, 2001
Posts: leet

View Profile WWW
« Reply #37 on: Dec 29, 2007, 04:28PM »

I don't think you're getting it, Jerry.  Could you change your perspective to look at your Cats gig as subsidizing your more artistic goals and projects?  Don't many, many players on Broadway and in pits everywhere do exactly this?  I'm thinking of the Vanguard Jazz Orch, for instance, and how many of the guys over the years have been on the longest running shows while making sure they preserve their Monday night jones.  I'm sure we could all come up with a decent list of players with similar situations, though far fewer than during the "glory" years.

OR

I'm remembering Dave Liebman's take on all of this, saying he would far prefer to substitute teach in the NYC schools by day so that all of his music making was in artistic/creative mode.....no weddings, studio work, or shows.....another approach that he probably only had to use in the early years, though I'm not sure.

Interesting to read the various perspectives here...

I've been lucky enough to be awarded a National Endowment grant LX, and I can tell you it has nothing whatsoever in common with playing in the pit at Cats.  :D

If the music that successful freelancers care most about inside has little to do with the gig they are doing on the outside then its a terrible indictment of the profession. Like Chris Fidler I knew early on that I wanted to be a musican but I also knew that whatever talent I had was not to be squandered on the "turd polishing" that makes up too much of freelancers schedule. I'd seen the toll freelancing took on older musicans who were robbed of any individuality they might have contributed to the music by being turned into sound alike plug and play modules. Only the very strongest retained any semblance of a really distinctive sound or indeed any real desire to make good music.  

But successful freelancers are able to make a living with their horn. And many pay a high price for it if they have any artistic aspirations. Perhaps freelancing as an artist is the modern equivalent of selling /surrendering your soul. Perhaps for many of the best artists their soul might be too important to part with.

What a wonderful career to aspire to.
Logged

Chip Tingle
Tenor & Bass Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba
NorCal freelancer & educator
415.898.8381
http://soundcloud.com/musichub recent demos
http://www.facebook.com/people/Chip-Tingle/1045829540
BoneCall

*
Offline Offline

Location:
Joined: Jun 8, 2002
Posts: 1585

View Profile
« Reply #38 on: Dec 29, 2007, 05:00PM »

Quote
What's the National endowment grant you've been awarded then?
Is that that a recent thing here in Hamburg?

Nope, that grant is ancient history. I used part of the money to finance The New York Tapes.

http://cdbaby.com/cd/jerrytilitz1

Wedding band?! Don't let my guys hear you describe them like that. The beauty of leading party gigs over here as opposed to the ones I used to do in NY is that people over seem to be a bit more sophisticated and are greatful for the music that we feel good doing. With the occasional Girl From Ipenema thrown in for the less experienced punters.  :D Doesn't matter, its fun to turn on the sexiest voice I can muster and try for some response from the ladies. Then its back to Lazybird or one of my own compositions or some standards that I like to sing. I don't know how "jazzy" you would consider our party repetoire but we never do a tune the same way twice and we all get to solo on almost every piece. The most satisfying thing is that I shape the evening the way I want. That in itself is * high art *.  I find when I please myself the audience is likely to be pleased as well.   ;-)

« Last Edit: Dec 30, 2007, 03:23AM by BoneCall » Logged
griffinben

*
Offline Offline

Location: The Wilds of the Northeast
Joined: Jan 28, 2003
Posts: 2541

View Profile
« Reply #39 on: Dec 29, 2007, 05:06PM »

I don't think anyone here is trying to compare the satisfaction of getting a grant and working on a project you care about and DESIRE to do with being able to cope with the real word realities of feeding yourself playing music.

I think what is being conveyed is what is realisticly ahead of one who choses to play for a living, and what is expected in those situations.

Regardless of what a person thinks of the music they have to perform, it's how one performs that music that determines if they are hired back or again.

Solid technique, the ability play with others and musicality count, no matter the sitution.  Or at least they count when another guys can be called to take your place the next night.  The more cats in your town, the higher the stakes.

But then again, work is so scarce that most people dare not mess up any gig if they can  help it.

Hell, people don't mess up in REHEARSAL BANDS.

Ya gotta eat.

Or, you chose a different lifestyle or different avenues so that you don't have to put yourself in that situation.

I've always found it best to make that decision myself, before someone else makes it for me.  Dig?

-Ben
Logged
LX

*
Offline Offline

Location: Los Angeles
Joined: Jan 12, 2005
Posts: 738

View Profile
« Reply #40 on: Dec 29, 2007, 07:41PM »

I've been lucky enough to be awarded a National Endowment grant LX, and I can tell you it has nothing whatsoever in common with playing in the pit at Cats.  :D

If the music that successful freelancers care most about inside has little to do with the gig they are doing on the outside then its a terrible indictment of the profession. Like Chris Fidler I knew early on that I wanted to be a musican but I also knew that whatever talent I had was not to be squandered on the "turd polishing" that makes up too much of freelancers schedule. I'd seen the toll freelancing took on older musicans who were robbed of any individuality they might have contributed to the music by being turned into sound alike plug and play modules. Only the very strongest retained any semblance of a really distinctive sound or indeed any real desire to make good music.  

But successful freelancers are able to make a living with their horn. And many pay a high price for it if they have any artistic aspirations. Perhaps freelancing as an artist is the modern equivalent of selling /surrendering your soul. Perhaps for many of the best artists their soul might be too important to part with.

What a wonderful career to aspire to.

Jerry's perspective is very valuable to this discussion!

A couple things...

1. A lot of musicians I know take of a portion of their income from their "soul-less" gigs and turn them around to fund the music they want to create themselves. Mike Davis comes to mind. I think someone can have all the artistic aspirations they want and still play their horn to fund the endeavor.

2. Not sure that working for a living counts as "an inidictment". The freelance life is not for everyone, that is for sure, but what bothers me are people who expect their artistic endeavors alone to be enough to live ON...to the contrary, art is something to live FOR. I know many older musicians [as I enter those ranks myself  :-0!!] who continue to maintain high personal artistic standards DESPITE the fact that they might earn the majority of their incomes playing in less-than-optimum musical situations. This topic has largely been about this very dilemma, and despite the flow of words from the bitter and jaded I have been hearing for the past 30-40 years of being a musician, there are ways to make a living playing your instrument while still maintaining a commitment to Music.

3. If you notice, Terry Craven's quote starts with "Your main job...etc". I was not referring to what he describes as a musician's ONLY job or anything close to that. Terry likes to speak in broad metaphor. Sorry if that didn't come across. However what he describes IS ONE aspect of the total career I DO aspire to and I must accept the idea to a certain extent. It is, after all, a job. We all have to "pay dues" in so many ways to get to be invited to work at that job...you gotta practice long tones and scales, practice tunes you know turn up on jam sessions you're not crazy about, you have to be personable, show up on time, etc etc...and...

Yes, you have to figure out ways to just get through some gigs the way Terry describes. I think that the people who accept ALL these challenges and make music in the process are creative artists in their own right.  It only becomes soul-less when you stop bringing your best musicianship to the table. When that happens, save yourself, bandleaders, and your colleagues a lot of time and hassle: Go do something else for money and pursue the music you want whenever you feel like it!! Just make sure you learn how to write a killer grant proposal!

4. As artists, I've always thought that one of our responsibilities is to bring our art to people. Sometimes, what might be a dumb gig to you is the BEST place to do just that! I have played casuals [club dates] alongside several jazz artists most of you have heard of. Many of them, without changing one thing about their artistic standards played THEIR way and it still fit the gig. I think sometimes we have this romantic image of "the Artist" in our minds. Maybe it's time to re-think that image. Art can sneak into a wedding gig [as Jerry says!] or into the way a trombone section blends on a chord for a second-tier off-Broadway show. Art can be found outside those exclusive art-house settings where we were all once so inspired.

I also think some players, after years of study and practice, develop a strong sense of entitlement when it comes to "their art". Granted, some people are meant to make music ONE way. That's fine, but if anyone still thinks the world owes them anything for having pursued a single minded musical journey, they are sadly mistaken.

LX

Logged

"Perfection is a achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
griffinben

*
Offline Offline

Location: The Wilds of the Northeast
Joined: Jan 28, 2003
Posts: 2541

View Profile
« Reply #41 on: Dec 29, 2007, 08:46PM »

Nice points Alex,

this discussion is rapidly changing from "How to be a freelance trombonist" into "what to expect as a..." or rather "What NOT to expect..."

The simple fact of the matter is that playing music to make a living involves performing music that isn't art (most of the time) and is not (for the most part) the kind of music that one has endevours throughout their study to play.

So...

if that is the truth...

and we're telling you the truth...

you either deal with it, do something else, or lead a sad existence.

Period.

As someone close to me once said after working at Radio City Music Hall for 12 years said:  "Art's the doorman".

So, you make art on your own.

And you thank your lucky stars when you get a great gig that is spiritually rewarding.  If it's spritually and financially rewarding (it does sometime happen) be even happier.

No one should be in the dark as to the state of live music today. 

If you are in the dark, look around...

Knowing that, knowing what's popular in music, knowing what kind of work you might get as a trombone player...

Or thinking about it at least...

You have some choices to make.

Decide who YOU are, and make a decision accordingly...

Or explore who you are, and find out...

The problem is that very few people ever go into trombone playing, or are trained in the western classical or jazz traditions in american universities/colleges, to play the music that they are most likely going to play for a living. 

What's worse, most folks involved in getting younger folk involved in making music aren't ever going to tell them that.  Univeristies, un-wordly private teachers, a public that doesn't understand what regular working musicians have to do are all part of that problem.

So listen to the good advice and experiences that are being given to you here, by real people out there actually doing what you want to do and decide. 

It's a persoanl path you take and no path is wrong as long as you'll be happy.

-Ben
Logged
BoneCall

*
Offline Offline

Location:
Joined: Jun 8, 2002
Posts: 1585

View Profile
« Reply #42 on: Dec 30, 2007, 04:10AM »

Great points Ben and LX et al. I hope all the young trombonists on the forum are reading your very informed posts along with me.

The fact is I might be a bit spoiled over here. I remember years ago when a friend of mine, the drummer Bob Moses, told me over a beer that he was leaving NY because he only got to play with the people he wanted to (at that time Hal Galper, Mike Brecker and that crew) on the average of once a month. I thought to myself I'm in exactly the same position although not in such classy company. I'd gotten everything I could out of the rehearsal band, show and clubdate scene and it was becoming apparent. Trombonist Keith O'Quinn came right out with it at one point - "Hey Jerry the first half was great and then you lost interest". It was time to go too. It was a good move although I still miss you guys. Now and then.  :)  Over here as a leader I get to do things my way, in other words, never the same way twice. There MUST be some art in that somewhere.  Way cool


Quote
I don't think you're getting it, Jerry.  Could you change your perspective to look at your Cats gig as subsidizing your more artistic goals and projects? 

But think of the effect months of Cats was having on my playing and my head (shutter). Some guys are strong enough to deal with that kind of a situation and still be creative but think of the energy it takes to ward off that routine and mindset and still be an effective artist! If the Klingons had access to that kind of forcefield Kirk wouldn't have stood a chance. 

In the end all I can say is that I'm feeling great and still crazy after all these years.  I'll go almost anywhere to bebop - its a gift. But if you want me to sit still in a section and behave you better have a very decent check with my name on it.  :D
« Last Edit: Dec 31, 2007, 02:56AM by BoneCall » Logged
Gabe Langfur

*
Offline Offline

Location: Boston, MA, USA
Joined: Apr 9, 2000
Posts: 5007

View Profile WWW
« Reply #43 on: Dec 30, 2007, 06:12AM »

I think I've posted this here before:

"The highest reward from your working is not what you get for it but what you become by it." - Sydney Harris

I cut this out from the newspaper and pasted it in the front of the binder I put together for audition materials, for the times when I feel like I'm banging my head against the wall practicing tiny fractions of pieces of music for a pointless audition.

I'm not going to tell anybody how this thought is or is not relevant to their particular situation.

Personally, I love freelancing nearly all of the time. Occasionally I'll have a gig where the music is so bad it makes me angry (I had one last week in fact), but there's nearly always some saving grace to it, usually with the players around me.

This is an excellent discussion, and I think one of the things arising from the disagreements is that different people have different personality types and different tolerances for music that doesn't tap anything deep within themselves. And I don't think such differences are any indicator of who the better musicians are by any means.
Logged

Gabe Langfur
Bass Trombonist
Rhode Island Philharmonic
Vermont Symphony
Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass

Trombone Faculty
Boston University
Kinhaven Music School
Wellesley College

S. E. Shires Artist
LX

*
Offline Offline

Location: Los Angeles
Joined: Jan 12, 2005
Posts: 738

View Profile
« Reply #44 on: Dec 31, 2007, 06:41PM »

Quote
I think I've posted this here before:

"The highest reward from your working is not what you get for it but what you become by it." - Sydney Harris

I cut this out from the newspaper and pasted it in the front of the binder I put together for audition materials, for the times when I feel like I'm banging my head against the wall practicing tiny fractions of pieces of music for a pointless audition.

That's a keeper, Gabe. Good!

Just so you know, Jerry...

I DO believe quality music, and arts in general have been under siege for years by a lot of "pop" culture which can defeat the spirit of many artists. However, that same "pop" culture [or "folk culture" which existed before electricity and the internet!] has also given birth to and/or inspired the creation of many forms of art we hold so dearly today. Bartok borrowed from common Hungarian folk songs, Duke Ellington created some of his most significant early work playing for wealthy people in the hugely popular "Cotton Club", a whites-only establishment in Harlem. Charlie Parker re-defined the popular blues and defined a school of improvisation building on the framework of common "popular" tunes of his day. And so it remains so to this day.

 I am sure my fellow forum-ites can think of many [and better] examples of this in history.

If it were not for the very existence of a popular culture, those wishing to hear/see something more significant might not have a standard to compare artistic greatness to in the first place!! Greatness needs to have something to rise above to be seen as great.

Also, none of us knows when or from where the "next" thing will emerge.  Don't know

A composer friend of mine told me once that inexperienced composers often think of themselves as "inventors" of art. He doesn't totally buy that idea. Rather, he believes the great ones tend to be first and foremost, "discoverers". Many composers often say that a given piece emerges as if it already somehow existed before they started and they are merely unearthing it and committing it to paper. I have had fleeting glimpses of this feeling on a handful of occasions as an improviser.

Sometimes, an artist endowed with a special combination of talent and diligence will find his/herself struggling to make ends meet or struggling to get through a series of unrewarding gigs. History has proven time and time again that these moments, for an even rarer kind of artist, can become the point at which his/her life comes into focus through the music. That stage in life--however wretched it might get for the artist personally--can be when they begin to unearth their voice, their method, their way. Their life's work becomes creating works of art, rather than just "doing the gig". This moment might occur for different people at different times and manifest itself in many different ways.

I sincerely hope that any young person wishing to seriously enter the profession of music strives to keep the Music Business two separate words. If one respects each word in that phrase, one is less likely to become either too surprised or too jaded when he/she hears others use them side-by-side. To me, the only responsibility we have as musicians is to share what we have with the world. For some, that involves following a specific artistic vision, for others, that means sharing their knowledge and wisdom with students, while for others still, that is sharing their best musicianship with what might otherwise be just  another "commercial" musical situation.

LX
Logged

"Perfection is a achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
janettem
Trombonist,future history PhD
*
Offline Offline

Location: Albuquerque,New Mexico
Joined: Feb 6, 2007
Posts: 1060

View Profile
« Reply #45 on: Jan 23, 2008, 02:08PM »

The process of creation and spontaneity ultimately triumphs,regardless of setting,musicians and the type of music you're playing up there.

I think we all should all remember that.

Yes,it can be a drag out there,but that should not be a deterrent to choosing to have a career in music.

In the end,it's all about being happy,and enjoying yourself out there.
Logged

Who says girls can't play trombone? No one!
Thomas Matta

*
Offline Offline

Location: Chicago
Joined: Feb 12, 2005
Posts: 7150

View Profile WWW
« Reply #46 on: Jan 27, 2008, 08:56PM »

Just dropping this in:

My colleague Tim Coffman relates this Keith Brown (Indiana) advice:

"Never pass up the chance to shut the "blank" up!" (expletive deleted!!!)

Wish I could adhere to it some days!!!
Logged

Thomas Matta
Associate Professor of Jazz Studies, DePaul University
www.tommattabigband.com
Andy Baker
*
Offline Offline

Location: Chicago
Joined: May 25, 2005
Posts: 474

View Profile WWW
« Reply #47 on: Apr 21, 2008, 07:51AM »

I find myself saying from time to time:

"I play the trombone for a living and music for fun"

and:

"It has to be for the music or the money. Hopefully both, never neither"

In other words, as usual, I agree with with what the pros say! We're all in the same world trying to make music and keep roofs over our heads.

Logged

Andy Baker
Assistant Professor of Music, University of Illinois at Chicago
Michael Rath Artist
Dennis Wick Artist
www.andybakertrombone.com
Andy Baker
*
Offline Offline

Location: Chicago
Joined: May 25, 2005
Posts: 474

View Profile WWW
« Reply #48 on: Apr 21, 2008, 07:55AM »

Just dropping this in:

My colleague Tim Coffman relates this Keith Brown (Indiana) advice:

"Never pass up the chance to shut the "blank" up!" (expletive deleted!!!)

Wish I could adhere to it some days!!!

That's right man!
Logged

Andy Baker
Assistant Professor of Music, University of Illinois at Chicago
Michael Rath Artist
Dennis Wick Artist
www.andybakertrombone.com
BatidoDeCarne
*
Offline Offline

Location:
Joined: Nov 8, 2005
Posts: 207

View Profile
« Reply #49 on: Aug 02, 2009, 05:47PM »

Hey. I would like to know more about what these "corporate" / soulless jobs are like. I see people mentioning weddings- what is it that is so bad about weddings? Or do you just get hired for the "here comes the bride" and not the reception? At the weddings I've been to, the people wanted some very specific things from the musicians, after which point they were pretty much free to do their own thing as long as it fit into the event, meaning plenty of romantic songs of different styles and that sort of thing are in the mix.

It seems to me that you get to play with people more than you otherwise would, so what makes you start seeing certain jobs as just bread-earning? Maybe the novelty of playing with others wears off for people who are free lancing, since they do it so much? Where I am now though, I like to play with anyone I can, even if it's not my thing, just because it's a chance to play with people. Of course I've never gotten more than a meal out of playing.

This is an interesting topic.
Logged
BGuttman
Mad Chemist

*
*
Offline Offline

Location: Londonderry, NH, USA
Joined: Dec 12, 2000
Posts: 51533
"Almost Professional"


View Profile
« Reply #50 on: Aug 02, 2009, 07:57PM »

The problem with weddings is that music is the last thing on the list of needs (after Photography).  Generally by the time they get to budget for music there isn't much money left.  So you'll get something like "can you play my 4-hour reception for $30.00 per man?"  Not to mention, it is now current to hire a Disk Jockey instead of a band for the wedding reception.  A DJ can cost as much as a live band.  A good DJ can have a tremendous variety of music to satisfy all tastes.  Try to find a gee-tar Rock Band that can play "In the Mood", or a Combo or Band that can play Led Zeppelin songs.  A good Wedding job should pay $35-50 per contact hour per man (which includes a 10 minute break every hour).

For a humorous (and surprisingly true!) look at the "soulless" side of gigging, check out:

http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/su/cja/hash.html

You can get one of two types of Wedding gigs.  One is a small ensemble for the ceremony.  This would usually be a brass quintet, but you are competing with flute/harp duos, string quartets, wind quintets, and even ensembles of saxophones or kazoos.  Generally you need to play for an hour or an hour and a half.  Play for seating guests, processional for the Wedding Party, recessional for Wedding Party, and for the guests to leave.  The people getting married may have a specific set of songs they want, or you can choose.  But don't play "Stars and Stripes Forever" for the service; it usually won't be well received.

The other gig is to play the reception.  Each couple (and their families) will have a particular music they want to hear.  We did one wedding where they wanted more and more Disco.  Another wanted wall-to-wall Latin.  Still another wanted a "retro" wedding playing 30s and 40s Swing Band stuff.  Of course there are certain songs that almost have to be in your library: "Daddy's Little Girl", "Sunrise, Sunset", something for cake cutting, something for introducing the bride and groom, something for first dance.  If the client wants something you can't play, you may have to learn it or lose the gig.  Also, you are playing for dancing; arrangements that alternate between genres won't fly -- ditch that cool arrangement of "In the Mood" as a Bossa/Funk alternation.  Also, when you take a solo don't go overboard; a Coltraine 30-chorus stream of notes will clear the dance floor.  A solo that is clearly recognizable for the melody flies much better.

Lots more to playing these kinds of gigs.
Logged

Bruce Guttman
Solo Trombone, Hollis Town Band
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orch. President 2017-2018
sabutin

*
Offline Offline

Location: NYC
Joined: Sep 26, 2005
Posts: 5444
"A professional freelance NYC lower brass player."


View Profile WWW
« Reply #51 on: Aug 02, 2010, 11:07PM »

I missed this thread.

Sorry.

Lots of good info here.

My own story?

I am the most "freelance" musician that I know in NYC. On any axe. Never took a Broadway show, never had a regular, day-in-day-out gig, including teaching. 40 years and counting.

My one, main rule? No matter how dumb the music, always play your instrument as if every note was important. Make every note mean something even if it only means something to you.

Main rule #2?

Do not do work that interferes with rule #1.

Now...implementng that second rule can be a very subjective and personal thing. I myself cannot stay even borderline sane on most B'way show gigs, and the club date scene makes me almost suicidal. A gig here, a gig there? Sure. Every week for months? No way.

Other really fine players find those kinds of gigs not so unpleasant, and still others crank their way through those scenes despite how unhappy they may be. Everyone has certain financial parameters that they must meet...family, etc...and people do what they think that they must do in order to survive. Long term, as far as I am concerned? If a gig hurts your playing, it's not worth doing.

And there's another thing about so-called "steady" gigs. (All of which end eventually, I might add.) So many players get all bound up in working for one or two or three regular contractors, never turning them down for fear that they will lose their place in the pecking order. But another approach is to work for so many people...on so many scenes...that no matter what happens, no matter what scenes and contractors/bandleaders come and go (And things are always changing. Bet on it.), you wll always be working for somebody. The spiderweb approach. Build a big enough web and there will always be gigs flying into it.

Other rules?

Always show up when and where you say that you will show up. In 40+ years I have blown maybe three calls total. Including free rehearsals. I blew a rehearsal last month, as a matter of fact. Got back from a long, exhausting tour and just spaced. But since I had never done that before in almost anyone's memory, the leader wasn't even mad. Almost blew a gig, too. Put it on the wrong day on my calendar. A friend's call and a quick drive saved that one. Luck helps. We're all human. But when I say "I'll be there," people can pretty well take it the bank.

Bring the right tool for the job and be warmed up and ready to play it, even if that means having to practice a relatively unfamiliar double for a week or more before a gig that is not very remunerative or even very interesting or musical. You're only as good as your last note. I will turn down a last-minute call no matter how well-paying it may be if I am not fairly sure that I am up to the task, and I almost never, ever leave the house w/out thoroughly warming up before a gig or rehearsal, even if it means going without enough sleep. While I am on that "right tool for the job" idea...treat every position in the ensemble as equal in importance. Don't slough off your practice or your attention because you are playing inner parts. Middle Fs are important, too.

Never say "No" to an offer unless you are going to be doing something else at the same time. Not the first time, anyway, even if it pays little or nothing. If it turns out that it sucks...simply make polite excuses ("Sorry...I'm already working that night," etc.) until they stop calling you.

Don't play sub games...double booking, sending in subs, etc. And if you must send in a sub, make sure that they play their butt off. There are some freelancers who only hire subs whose playing will not threaten their position on a gig. I think that this approach is counterproductive, myself. I consider myself a servant of the music...I really do, even dumb music...and if I'm not going to be playing it I sure as hell want someone good to be there in my place.

And...always keep your real musical goals at the forefront of your efforts. One of the reasons that I have been able to sustain a freelance career through so many years here is because I almost always take musical gigs over better-paying, not-so-musical ones if I can possibly do so. Gotta stay hungry; gotta stay alive musically. Everything else grows out of that.

And of course..have fun. A happy musician is a hired musician. That goes back to rule #2. If you are on gigs that overall make you unhappy...well, there you jolly well are, aren't you.

I wake up every day full of enthusiasm for whatever challenges will come my way. Win, lose or draw, it's a great life if you know how to live it.

An ongoing, lifelong adventure.

LX knows that. So do DG, Ben Griffin and several others on this thread.

Bet on that as well.

Have fun...we are.

Bet on it.

Later...

S.
Logged

Visit <http://samburtis.com/>. Lots of information on that site in the form of articles plus a link to my method book "Time, Balance & Connections-A Universal Theory Of Brass Relativity" which includes several chapters of the book.
ctingle

*
Offline Offline

Location: NorCal - San Francisco bay area
Joined: May 1, 2001
Posts: leet

View Profile WWW
« Reply #52 on: Aug 02, 2010, 11:35PM »

Go Sam!

I missed this thread.

Sorry.

Lots of good info here.

My own story?

I am the most "freelance" musician that I know in NYC. On any axe. Never took a Broadway show, never had a regular, day-in-day-out gig, including teaching. 40 years and counting.

My one, main rule? No matter how dumb the music, always play your instrument as if every note was important. Make every note mean something even if it only means something to you.

Main rule #2?

Do not do work that interferes with rule #1.

Now...implementng that second rule can be a very subjective and personal thing. I myself cannot stay even borderline sane on most B'way show gigs, and the club date scene makes me almost suicidal. A gig here, a gig there? Sure. Every week for months? No way.

Other really fine players find those kinds of gigs not so unpleasant, and still others crank their way through those scenes despite how unhappy they may be. Everyone has certain financial parameters that they must meet...family, etc...and people do what they think that they must do in order to survive. Long term, as far as I am concerned? If a gig hurts your playing, it's not worth doing.

And there's another thing about so-called "steady" gigs. (All of which end eventually, I might add.) So many players get all bound up in working for one or two or three regular contractors, never turning them down for fear that they will lose their place in the pecking order. But another approach is to work for so many people...on so many scenes...that no matter what happens, no matter what scenes and contractors/bandleaders come and go (And things are always changing. Bet on it.), you wll always be working for somebody. The spiderweb approach. Build a big enough web and there will always be gigs flying into it.

Other rules?

Always show up when and where you say that you will show up. In 40+ years I have blown maybe three calls total. Including free rehearsals. I blew a rehearsal last month, as a matter of fact. Got back from a long, exhausting tour and just spaced. But since I had never done that before in almost anyone's memory, the leader wasn't even mad. Almost blew a gig, too. Put it on the wrong day on my calendar. A friend's call and a quick drive saved that one. Luck helps. We're all human. But when I say "I'll be there," people can pretty well take it the bank.

Bring the right tool for the job and be warmed up and ready to play it, even if that means having to practice a relatively unfamiliar double for a week or more before a gig that is not very remunerative or even very interesting or musical. You're only as good as your last note. I will turn down a last-minute call no matter how well-paying it may be if I am not fairly sure that I am up to the task, and I almost never, ever leave the house w/out thoroughly warming up before a gig or rehearsal, even if it means going without enough sleep. While I am on that "right tool for the job" idea...treat every position in the ensemble as equal in importance. Don't slough off your practice or your attention because you are playing inner parts. Middle Fs are important, too.

Never say "No" to an offer unless you are going to be doing something else at the same time. Not the first time, anyway, even if it pays little or nothing. If it turns out that it sucks...simply make polite excuses ("Sorry...I'm already working that night," etc.) until they stop calling you.

Don't play sub games...double booking, sending in subs, etc. And if you must send in a sub, make sure that they play their butt off. There are some freelancers who only hire subs whose playing will not threaten their position on a gig. I think that his approach is counterproductive, myself. I consider myself a servant of the music...I really do, even dumb music...and if I'm not going to be playing it I sure as hell want someone good to be there in my place.

And...always keep your real musical goals at the forefront of your efforts. One of the reasons that I have been able to sustain a freelance career through so many years here is because I almost always take musical gigs over better-paying, not-so-musical ones if I can possibly do so. Gotta stay hungry; gotta stay alive musically. Everything else grows out of that.

And of course..have fun. A happy musician is a hired musician. That goes back to rule #2. If you are on gigs that overall make you unhappy...well, there you jolly well are, aren't you.

I wake up every day full of enthusiasm for whatever challenges will come my way. Win, lose or draw, it's a great life if you know how to live it.

An ongoing, lifelong adventure.

LX knows that. So do DG, Ben Griffin and several others on this thread.

Bet on that as well.

Have fun...we are.

Later...

S.
Logged

Chip Tingle
Tenor & Bass Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba
NorCal freelancer & educator
415.898.8381
http://soundcloud.com/musichub recent demos
http://www.facebook.com/people/Chip-Tingle/1045829540
LX

*
Offline Offline

Location: Los Angeles
Joined: Jan 12, 2005
Posts: 738

View Profile
« Reply #53 on: Aug 03, 2010, 04:42PM »

Great stuff, Sam. Thanks for chiming in!! Many words of well-practiced wisdom there, for sure!! And you are right...."an on-going lifelong adventure" INDEED!!!

LX
Logged

"Perfection is a achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
savio

*
Offline Offline

Location: Norway
Joined: Aug 10, 2006
Posts: 5149

View Profile WWW
« Reply #54 on: Aug 04, 2010, 04:35AM »

This is very interesting reading even for people that are not in the freelance situation or in a pro environment of playing. When I was studying and also got some into the pro scene with some interesting gigs here and there, I did a lot wrong. Playing skills are just a little part of the hole picture and not enough. Important and necessary, yes,  but there are many other factors that is well as important. Like Sam told about to meet up at right time.  I did experience that factors like human behaviour, be trusted and have your own day and life in shape is as important than playing skills.  So you have to keep your day/diary in system, you have to be stable and you have to be friendly and make contacts around you. This have to be understood very fast in any career  before its to late.

Today I see around its very tough to be in this situation. With family, children you cant take that many chances. You need a minimum of income to keep you and family over water. And also make them all they need to live decent. If you are alone its a bit different. I see many excellent players that have to do other work to keep all together. Do gigs that are not on their level and so on. 

I believe you need that approach like Sam told.  Give every note a meaning no matter where or with what players. I play a lot with amateurs and I try to blend in, play my note as consentrated I can, try to make my role as a part of it, and try to help the hole musical  result.  I never say so much. I just try to keep my playing to support and blend. That's in it self a big challenge and it makes my own playing interesting. No matter where I play.

Today I feel that if I only have the opportunity to play, I'm happy.  I don't care so much for level, what kind of music or where I play. Just play and do it with my soul. Then it gives a meaning and its fun. Im fare a way from the pro scene the people above lives in but still its interesting for me.

Leif
Logged

Bass Trombone - Conn, Holton
johntarr

*
Offline Offline

Location: Ljungby, Sweden
Joined: Aug 19, 2010
Posts: 166
"How can I practice more deeply?"


View Profile
« Reply #55 on: Sep 25, 2011, 01:50PM »

This has been a most interesting and very thought provoking thread for me.

I would like to offer another perspective to the idea of doing gigs that might be considered sub par. After and during school (B.M. & M.M.), I managed to make it as a freelancer in San Francisco, not first tier but made a living and had some interesting playing opportunities. I used to ***** and moan to myself on those gigs that were bad and I was playing, "just for the money." I had much to learn back then, as I do now.

Eventually, I became weary of the driving and also realized that trying to get a steady orchestra gig was not what I really wanted. I went on to study the Feldenkrais Method and developed a strong practice after moving to Switzerland. I did some gigs when I first came and then when I began earning enough from the practice, stopped freelancing. I kept playing albeit not as intensely, as well as teaching privately.

One thing I did was join the trombone choir to keep some ensemble playing going. The group is made up of amateurs and wasn't very satisfying. Now that I've decided to get back into serious playing, I'm still in the choir. It's still not very good but I've found that when I'm really present and playing well, the group gets better. Additionally, no matter what's going on around me, I can still try to play as musically as possible and learn something about music from the 1400's to present.  I test out my ideas for movement lessons for brass players in the group and soon I hope to publish somatic awareness lessons for trombonists in hope of helping many others like yourselves feel and play better. I also got a 1 year teaching job here in the music school because of my work in the bone choir.

And then, there are those rare moments when every one gets linked in and plays better than they normally do. Mind you it's still not great but when the intonation and musicality settle in, it feels like the sun has arisen on a spring day, and everybody smiles.

The brief version of this is: my experience is what I make of it.

Thanks to all of you for contributing your experience to help me shape mine for the better!

John
Logged

The Dynamic Musician Series: Dynamic Stability & Breath, Vols. 1 & 2 "Dynamic Resonance" & "Embodying Deep Practice" Using somatic awareness to better playing.
griffinben

*
Offline Offline

Location: The Wilds of the Northeast
Joined: Jan 28, 2003
Posts: 2541

View Profile
« Reply #56 on: Sep 25, 2011, 10:07PM »

I just got in from a club date (wedding reception) and saw your reply, John.  It reminded me of an experience I had many years ago.

I was doing a dixieland band gig with a throw together band at a local fair.  It was a fun group, good musicians, and we had a blast playing and hanging out.  I was scheduled later that evening to play at the fair with a different band; one of those warhorse-local bands that play like **** and are a real drag, but seem to always be working (yay, suburbia). 

Anyway, I was B******g and moaning about having to play with this band and the guitar/banjo player stopped me cold.  He's a real cat, and has been through some serious stop if in his life.  He said to me: "Of course it's going to be miserable, you've already decided that it's going to be."  This stunned me and he said after that "Just decide that you're going to have a good time and you will."

Well, of course I wound up having a good time.  I found things I liked, or that were challenges to me.  I got along better with everyone in the band.  I sounded better.  I keep this with me often when I'm not enjoying a gig.  There's lots of reasons not to enjoy regular working gigs; quality of music, players, bread, leaders, clients, etc.  But I can put on the good face for one night and usually wind up having a good time. 

I had a good time tonight at my club date; because we made it fun.  It's a good enough group of guys that we enjoy what's going, even if we're making up lines to Lady Gaga.  We make up challenging lines, push each other musically and technically, laugh and joke...its a good group of human beings.  We get guys that sub on the band that have the sour puss before they even show up...they never have fun.  Then others are seduced by the infectious spirit of insanity.  But WE make the insanity, WE create the environment.

Now, none of us are any false delusions about the quality of the compositions that we are covering.  But OUR product (as a horn line, at least) is very good, and WE create an environment that is enjoyable too.

Our perceptions and preconceptions will make a difference to our survival.

-Ben
Logged
fluor

*
Offline Offline

Location: norway
Joined: Oct 3, 2005
Posts: 1021

View Profile
« Reply #57 on: Sep 26, 2011, 03:36AM »

Yeah, playing classical trombone is often a background voice (jazz too I guess). Often I sit there playing long notes and harmonic pads.

I can't remember who said it to me, but he or she said: You have to find a meaning behind the notes. WHen I get bored while playing, I often think why am I playing this, what is my role etc... And I challenge myself in that way.


I read an article once, I think it was in the norwegian musician organisation's magazine, that so many norwegian arrangers (and also some composers) are trombonists... And one of them, who was interviewed said in all seriousness that he believed it was because trombonists had the most boring parts, so they start to listen to the music, isntrumentation, layers and to the other parts and how the music works, than to their own part!
Logged
BMadsen

*
Offline Offline

Location: South Orange, NJ
Joined: Jul 30, 2010
Posts: 438

View Profile WWW
« Reply #58 on: Sep 26, 2011, 05:54AM »

I used to have that - I subbed a lot of wedding bands about 7 years ago before 2 (yes, 2) band leaders died of heart attacks within a couple of months of each other.  Amazed I hated doing the work at the time, but it was my part time job getting me through school. They constituted 90% of my good paying work, and I was stuck. I thought, since playing weddings wasn't what I wanted at the time, I thought I would be happy teaching and playing part time. 6 years later (after finishing my degree at the New School, getting certified in a year long program and teaching 5 years), I was miserable, playing a few gigs a month and dreading waking up every day. I resigned from teaching, and began pursing the freelance career again. Now, I'm playing weddings and corporate events again, but I find that I enjoy them so much more. I'm thankful every day that I get to make a living putting my lips to my horn.

I guess that since I have the experience of doing the day job (in addition to teaching, I have worked in offices as a temp), I realized that the day jobbing life is not for me, at least right now. Who knows who I will be and what I will want in 5 more years? But, I'm far more satisfied now, loving every gig I get (from Chinese funerals to corporate events, and some weird stuff in between, in addition to the "normal" big band work), and wake up every morning excited for what the day will bring. I'm about to warm up for a Chinese funeral, then I will be going to a training session for an after-school program I'll be teaching, and who knows what tonight? Practicing, probably. I haven't had a dull day since my last day of teaching 3 months ago.
Logged

Bradley Madsen
BFA - Trombone Performance, New School Jazz
917.648.1486
brad@bradleymadsen.com
http://www.bradleymadsen.com
stutzand

*
Offline Offline

Location: Tumwater, WA or Kalamazoo, MI
Joined: Jun 10, 2010
Posts: 307

View Profile
« Reply #59 on: Dec 24, 2011, 10:00PM »

This is a truly wonderful thread. It's giving me a lot of information to take in about freelancing in the industry. I've got some personality changes I need to undergo before I graduate! Luckily, I have time.
Logged

BM (Instrumental Performance) - Eastern Washington University: '10-'12
BM (Trombone Performance/Jazz Studies) - Western Michigan University: '12~
SandyMBarrows
Sanctification in Progress

*
Offline Offline

Location: DFW Area
Joined: Jan 17, 2003
Posts: 1285
"Professor 'Add Junk'"


View Profile WWW
« Reply #60 on: Jan 03, 2012, 04:32PM »

Well, my "freelancing" landed me right in the middle of playing with some really fine artists (like former UNT 1 O'Clock Lab Band trombonist).....and some other musicians who are recording artists.

Yes, I will be joining this church because of the quality of music, but also, it has inspired me to become a better musician. Pay is up in the air (non-existent).....fortunately, I have a retirement that is providing a stable income until 2015, as an airline pilot (if that doesn't go bust); hence...my point....

Freelancing is a gamble.....you better have the right connections in the union, if you want paying gigs. Period. Plus, you need to supplement your income with something reliable, like LOCKSMITHING! Be smart. These times are hard on musicians that seek a living strickly as thus. And even those who are making a living at it will tell you......get a job that will guarantee a living for you when the "music died". Unfortunately, it will probably get more dicey before it gets better!
Logged

Kindest regards, and BLESSED DAY!!
-Sandy
Retired Pilot, Instructor,
Freelance Low Brass DFW Area

Miraphone Soprano, Shires .547 TruBore, Michael Davis .495, Bass dependent TruBore
DE Mouthpieces/Giddings-Webster
JerBone41

*
Offline Offline

Location: Central Ohio
Joined: Apr 21, 2011
Posts: 49

View Profile WWW
« Reply #61 on: May 23, 2013, 07:57PM »

A great thread to read especially for tose coming out of college/graduate school. Lots of great info from pros that have been doing freelancing for years.

Thanks for the wisdom and advice.

Logged

Jeremy E. Smith
------------------
Founder and Editor, Last Row Music
Bass Trombone, Orchestra Iowa
Bass Trombone, Huntington Symphony Orchestra
http://www.lastrowmusic.com
tromboneburger
*
Offline Offline

Location: Woodland, CA
Joined: Jan 16, 2011
Posts: 8

View Profile WWW
« Reply #62 on: Jul 29, 2013, 12:26AM »

Such great comments, I would like to use some of them as part of my section on professionalism on my site at: http://ericburger.org/pro.htm

I would love to hear any additions you all may have to my list, or at least share some of that that has helped me keep playing over the years. Below is the text from my site.

It is possible to have a very successful career in music, and not be the best player around. It is also  possible to be the best, and to never get called for gigs. I have often worked far more than guys much better than me, and I know it is because of my professional attitude and behavior that has made the difference. If you want to be a success, follow these 10 rules and could also happen for you!

1.  Be Early. Not just when it is convenient - but every time. No matter what the traffic is like, no matter what happened the night before or what’s going on with your car. And if you might not be early, let the contractor / director / band leader know as soon as possible. Without excuses. If you are always early, and then end up being late once, you will be forgiven. If you are just on time or occasionally late, you will need to find a new job.

2.  Be in the Correct Uniform. Your clothing should be clean and pressed and appropriate for the gig. If you do not know what the attire is, ask. If there is no way of knowing, bring a few possibilities. Don’t travel in your performance clothing. Always try to look like a professional (yes, this includes rockers…), and always better to look a little too good than to be the slob on stage.

3.  Be Prepared. Make sure your instrument is in good repair, and have extra reeds / mouthpieces / strings, even if you do not need it. Always have all the mutes, cables, stands or anything else that you could use. Have a microphone, a tuner, a metronome, or anything else you use for you instrument.  Bring doubles or alternate horns when it might be needed and on every recording gig.

4.  Be Ready. Know your music. Really know it. Spend more time than you need. If you are a singer, know your words. Make sure your chops are up to the task. Know what you are playing for, and who will be the audience. Check up on the contractor / director / band leader get to know them.  Be rested, sober and have a good attitude.

5.  Be Helpful. Help load in other people’s equipment (drums, PA, amps). Help make sure the stage is ready. See what you can do for the contractor / director / band leader to make the gig go smoother. And, most importantly, don’t be a bother or get in the way if your help isn’t needed.

6.   Be Excited. You are playing for money – what could ever be better than that? Be happy about the stage, the food, the drinks (or lack there of), the audience, and the rest of the band. Like it so much that if you have to play overtime, you will do it just for being asked (let the contractor work out overtime pay). Never complain to the staff of the site you are playing at.

7.  Be Grateful. Make sure the contractor / director / band leader know that you are very pleased to have gotten the call (doesn’t matter if you are not), and how much you would enjoy another call anytime. This is very important.  Even if you would never play with the group again, do not tell them – just be booked already when they call. You will never know how often the best gigs come from people you wouldn’t work for on a good referral. Always be pleased to meet everyone, and say goodbye with nice comments to all when you leave. Give out your card freely, and take other in return.

8.  Be Willing. Many successful careers started when musicians where willing to play for little or no money to get a foot in the door. Play gigs outside your comfort zone. Take chances. Sing if you are asked (even if you suck – let them decide).  Perform your heart out. Dance (if appropriate).

9.  Be Joyous. Love everyone in the band, and they will love you back. Love the audience, and they will also love you. Be the nicest person in the room. Laugh at the stupid jokes. Never talk bad about anyone there or in any other group. Have fun.

10.  Be Responsible. Stay sober. Do not trash the place. Pack up your gear right away, and then help anyone else who may need help. Pay for any food or drink as required. If you need to get a sub, find someone much better than you, and pay them out of your pocket if necessary to make up their price. Leave with the last people, and double check the stage or dressing room for other peoples stuff.
Logged
RidingTheElkhart

*
Offline Offline

Location: Miami, FL
Joined: Dec 14, 2013
Posts: 32
"Love what you do and never work a day in your life"


View Profile
« Reply #63 on: Dec 22, 2013, 06:29PM »

Thanks for the post, its great
Logged
wbaker22

*
Offline Offline

Location:
Joined: Jun 18, 2008
Posts: 6

View Profile WWW
« Reply #64 on: Jul 06, 2014, 03:48PM »

Great advice. Thanks!
Logged

Bass Trombonist
Des Moines Symphony
Orchestra Iowa
DMLBT

Trombonist
Sam Cockrell Band
Tynan

http://willbakermusic.com/
Pages: 1 2 3 4 [All]   Go Up
Print
Jump to: