What it means to be a musician
What does it mean to dedicate your whole life to music? Is being a musician the synonym of partying all night long, earning huge fortunes, dressing in fancy clothing, and being followed and adored by fans worldwide? Well… perhaps, if you are Beyoncé! That’s not the case for most musicians though.
Here are some thoughts about what it means to be a musician… and what it doesn’t.
Being a musician means…
Long hours of practice
Every successful musician agrees that you need to dedicate much time to playing your instrument and getting better. You can’t expect to become a good guitar player without at least practicing a little every day. And you won’t become a professional musician without long hours of daily practice. Sure, you may want to play an instrument only for fun, and in that case, a 10-15 minute regular practice may be enough. But if you wish to make a living out of music, you’ll need to practice way more to thrive.
Constantly going beyond yourself
Every great musician always feels they could still do a little better. They don’t rest on their laurels, so to speak. They keep pulling themselves further; always trying to go a little further, getting a little better. If you feel you’re already great as you are, you may neglect your practice. If you feel you sound great, but you could still do a little better, you’ll keep improving all your life. That’s the difference between a great musician and a mediocre one.
Opening your mind to new music
Most people like music but always listen to the same songs or artists over and over. There’s nothing wrong with having a preference, but if you are a musician, you always feel curious and you are open to listening to new genres or styles. You never know what you can learn from them!
Having a powerful means of expression
Being a musician means never running out of words… because you don’t need them! You can literally pull your heart out when playing your instrument. You can express all range of emotions, relax, get rid of sadness, and enjoy yourself… all through your music! Being a musician can also make you feel with others. Music makes you more sensitive and empathic, and that may hurt sometimes, but if you love music you’ll know it’s definitely worth it.
Finding new friends
Ok, so being a musician does not necessarily turn you into a people-person. Many musicians are introverted and shy, and would rather stay at home playing their instrument than going to crowded concerts and big parties. But music, most of the time, brings people together. And even if you are somewhat reserved, chances are you’ll eventually meet someone who shares your love for music and become friends, especially if you play in a band, an orchestra, or sing in a choir.
Being in an everlasting love!
If you are a musician, it means you fell in love with music a long time ago. Perhaps when you were a young kid, or maybe some years later. In any case, being a musician means being in love with music, and that love lasts forever. You know that music is a treasure, and it’s a gift. And if you are a music teacher besides being a musician, you should feel blessed because you are passing down such gift to many others!
Being a musician is not…
Being “naturally gifted”
Ok, some children are indeed born with a natural talent for music, the same way some people are great at maths, some stand out at the sports field, etc. But you don’t need to have a special natural talent to become a musician: the desire to learn and the regular practice are way more important than any natural ability. The other way round is also true: some children may be born with natural skills for music, but if they are not properly encouraged to learn, they will never find out!
Being overly competitive
Of course, the music industry, as any show business, is competitive. Some musicians struggle to get a vacancy in a renowned orchestra or compete to earn a scholarship. But being a musician does not necessarily imply pursuing being better than others. Musicians can admire other colleagues, and won’t be necessarily competing against each other. This is particularly important when it comes to members of the same band or group. Try competing against yourself, getting to play a little better every time than you did before, instead of being better than others.
Being a rock star
We have all heard and read about certain rock & roll legends, their lives filled with scandals, sex, drugs, alcohol, parties, money problems, etc. This has little to do with music and more to do with show business and selling news. But it is not a determinant: you may love rock and roll, have a rock band, and still live a healthy life! Maybe you enjoy parties because you love being with your friends, perhaps you love traveling on tours and meeting new people. That does not mean you should damage your body by abusing substances! In any case, musicians need to take certain precautions to take care of their health, such as resting properly, doing some exercise to compensate for long hours sitting down while playing your instrument, etc.
Only having fun
Being a musician is great… most of the time. Some other times, as in any other job, you may not enjoy it so much. You may get tired sometimes. You may not feel like practicing, or teaching a lesson, or playing in a gig, but you have to do it because that’s what you do for a living. You become a musician because you love it more than anything in the world. That doesn’t mean you have to love it 24/7!
By the way, if you are not a musician yet, but you dream about becoming one, the first thing you have to do is signing up for music lessons!