Work now, play later


If there is one characteristic that most musicians have it’s the urge to want what they want as soon as possible. We want to play incredibly, write amazing memorable music, and achieve success as soon as we play the first chord out in public. Not only that, but after a while, for a lot of people this feeling turns into a sense of false ownership or entitlement which leads the person to believe that they are so incredible that they are entitled fame, or money just like that. The biggest problem with all this is the inability to see that as with everything in life, you have to work to get results. No one has ever gotten anything in life just by dreaming alone. You have to make that dream your reality day by day. Even the lottery winner has to get out of the house and buy the ticket.

The first topic to be mentioned is the work it takes to become a musician at a professional level and maintain the skills to do so. Playing music is a lot like hitting the gym, or doing math, they both require the discipline of constant practicing. If one does not practice improvisation, the muscles loose strength and all technical ability will be loss little by little, if one does not practice reading, the mind loses sharpness and note recognition will only get slower, same with harmony and theory, ear training, etc…

The second important topic to be mentioned is, once you achieve an acceptable level of musicianship you have to start looking at yourself as a product. What do you do with a good product as a business man? You sell it!!! And to sell you have to market yourself. Meaning, you have got to find a way to get your name out there. And in the golden age of technology new ways of doing so appear each and every single day. Get creative with it, after all we are artists.

All of this can be quite overwhelming to think about at times. Between the hours of practice to maintain and obtain skills, and the hours of work it takes to record an album, write music, create a website, write articles, books, create a teaching schedule etc… It can seem almost impossible at times. This is especially true in the beginning. This is the importance of organization. If I were to apply this I would do it utilizing these next steps:

1.Prioritization: What do you want? You have to know exactly what you want in order to be able to work for it. Every “job” has a very distinct set of tools that are required. So, what’s it going to be?

2.Time scheduling: There’s way too much work to do to be wasting time. Schedule your day so that nothing gets left out. Set daily goals that can be achieved in a day’s time and make sure that you’ve crossed them off by the end of the day

3.Work: Not one person has ever gotten anything without hard work and invested time in what they want. This one I’ve divided in different topics:

· Perfect practice makes perfect: Make sure that you don’t waste time when you practice; this is precious time that should not be wasted on fondling your instrument.

· Push yourself beyond your limits: Forget the comfort zone; there is no growth when you do what you already know. If you’re not failing, you’re not pushing yourself.

· Take criticism: It’s the only way to grow, as mentioned before; you have to look at yourself as a product. This means that you have to listen to your customers and tune out the unwanted things.

4.Record keeping: You are going to want to keep a record of what you are doing in order to look back and make the necessary changes. This helps with maintaining a critical look on ourselves.

It takes loads of sacrifice and initiative to make things work. It is after all your dream, so it would make sense that it’s the thing that you spend the most of your day on. I heard this once and it helps to keep myself busy; “Why waste my time watching someone who is working on his dream on television while I could be working on mine?” Most importantly take risks and be courageous enough to work hard enough to see results. Only through hard work will we ever see results and improvement we want.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” (Segment from “Our Greatest Fear” by Marianne Williamson)

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© 2015 by Juan Antonio Music.