“If you want to be creative, get out there and do it.”
–Michael Giacchino, composer
Almost all of the ambitious music students I meet share two common concerns.
They wonder, “Do I have what it takes?” And, “Will I be able to earn a living in music?”
I propose that, for the students I encounter, the answer to both questions is: yes!
Regarding that first question, as I see it, all of us have the potential to make music at some level and add beauty to the world. By practicing intelligently, we expand our skills and debunk the notion that innate talent rules our destiny.
As for the second concern, in The Musician’s Way, I wrote, “Diverse careers are available to musicians because people worldwide consume huge amounts of music-related products and services every day” (p. 300).
That’s not to say that every student can become a star. Of course not – our innate abilities differ. Nor do I claim that it’s easy to forge a music career.
But when we pursue our love of music with open minds and solid work ethics, we find the niches where our interests and abilities intersect with opportunities in our industry.
In fact, most of us working musicians don’t stay on narrow career tracks but branch out to contribute in various ways through performance, education, conducting, management, production, writing, and so forth.
The Abundance Mentality
So, rather than letting concerns over scarcities of talent or employment undercut your passion, I invite you to embrace an abundance mentality: Trust in yourself and your potential to grow, commit to your musical work, and create abundantly.
Composer Michael Giacchino echoed this sentiment in his March 2010 acceptance speech at the Oscars (he won best original score for his work on the film Up):
Never once in my life did my parents ever say, “What you’re doing is a waste of time.” I had teachers, I had colleagues, I had people that I worked with all through my life who always told me what you’re doing is not a waste of time.
. . . I know there are kids out there that don’t have that support system, so if you’re out there and you’re listening, listen to me: If you want to be creative, get out there and do it; it’s not a waste of time. Do it. Okay? Thank you.
Is it easy to keep abundance in mind? Not always, because we have to believe in ourselves, stay current with our industry, and work productively day after day.
Here, then, are practical strategies that help performing musicians fuel their sense of artistic and economic abundance.
1. Build a large repertoire of inspiring material that you can perform easily
2. Customize your practice schedule and learn your music deeply
3. Access expert coaching and collaborate with other musicians
4. Fire up your motivation and follow your heart, yet safeguard your health
5. Get started every day
1. Draft a broad career plan and artistic vision
2. Learn about the music industry
3. Build up professional skills and seek out a mentor (see the Music Careers page at MusiciansWay.com)
4. Network via the web and at festivals and local events
5. Fill many niches and diversify your abilities – see p. 304-305 of The Musician’s Way.
© 2010 Gerald Klickstein