A guide to the one career move you won't learn about in music school
Ted, I'm so happy that your arthritis went away. You might want to consider whether or not the nightshade family of plants had anything to do with the arthritis. That's potatoes, tomatoes, peppers of all kinds including paprika spice and goji berries (but not black pepper), eggplant, and more. I eliminated them over three months ago and a host of symptoms (including some incipient arthritis, sinus trouble, anxiety, abdominal pain, eczema, and more) started to go away. My detox is still in progress because the toxins are oil-soluble and take a long time to leave the body. I was shocked but grateful to figure out the cause of my problem. There is information online, but no test. It takes an elimination diet to see if it helps any individual.
Your point is more important than ever in this age of glut. When I was a kid and mastered something on the guitar, I couldn’t immediately see a hundred other people doing it on Instagram and YouTube. A thousand! Facing this glut of mastery forces any sane person to evaluate: how much money is there out there for people who sound like Stevie Ray Vaughan or Jim Hall or whoever? There’s only so many spots. When there is an OBVIOUS excess of “geniuses” you need to find some other, inner reason for picking up the instrument. Or rather that reason needs already to be there.
Wow. Heartfelt thanks. For the love of music - really shines brightly through your works. Best wishes on your journey. Cool to connect on the path. OM
It is funny, when I was in my 20's, the mission to be a great (famous) photographer was very strong. As I have grown up and had the chance to see what such a life actually costs, I said "No, thank you." I love my life today and still appreciate photography. It's a part of me, but there is a lot to be said about getting to show up for my family, making work that is meaningful, and helping others along the way.
Well said Ted. I've often said I left the music business, but the music never left me.
Wow. You are so inspiring. At 75, 76 soon, what you say about the relationship to just making music, wherever, whenever as long as one is at one with the music is just absolutely there. Just quit a band I was a founder member of because it has changed, fairly quickly, to something that I’m not at one with. Just for me this article is very affirmative. Thank you and thank you again and take care.
Gracias (un dibujante que ahora escribe sobre historia y ciencia.
The desire to be a recognised ‘musician’…like Gaugin stating on the birth certificate of his fifth child with Mette ‘artist’ rather than banker. It is our identity but for some of us a related calling may be our contribution to….understanding. Again. Thank you and fare well.
Ted, I’m glad to hear how that setback was overcome, and note that even while your love of music remains intact you have succeeded in making a career in (at least) one other field that favours creativity. I have another, only slightly different narrative to tell. I was bitten by the same music bug in my late teenage years, and that led me into playing the saxophone and the flute. However whether due to my inherent level of talent, or to the various circumstances of my life, I didn’t get near the standard required to become a professional jazz musician. Or classical musician for that matter and I tried both. I carried the frustration with me for many years, at least into the age of 50, and beyond to diminishing degree. So I had the other lifelong frustration of listening to my idols from the music of the 1940s onwards, but despite all the practice I did I never got anywhere near the standard of these idols.
Even in retirement, I played classical music with a friend who is an excellent pianist and I practised diligently to raise the standard of my fluteplaying . That friend eventually moved to another region, leaving me with no music partner. I still tried to keep practising but somehow practising never ever took me to the realm of intensely enjoying music. And whether or not I was in a playing situation the practice seem like a chore that I had to endure to justify my presenting myself as a musician.
I won’t go on forever elaborating on this theme, but I’m just observing that one can have the same love of music at whatever level one engages. That too is something I never learned from my music teachers in all my years of learning and studying and practising.
Regards, Peter Warne from Nimbin, Australia.
Wonderful perspective. Playing for the love of music.
Thanks for this, Ted! When I was 18-25 I practiced all day, every day, trying to "make it" in the LA guitar-heavy metal scene. As good as I got, keeping bands together, along with seeing how there were always guys who were "ridiculous" (good), who could play circles around me: it was rough.
I had some success, but eventually dropped out of the circuit in order to teach, which I really loved. Then I got a better-paying job in a library, and had a 15 year non-amicable separation/divorce from the guitar. I had some sort of emotional breakdown with what the guitar had "done to me." I hardly ever played. I saw my relationship with guitar as one long disappointment.
With much reading of Neuroscience and Philosophy, I realized I had made that entire sadness myself. It didn't have to be that way, but I didn't know it at the time.
Gradually, I started practicing again, and for the past 15 years, I've only made a small handful of gigs and a few obscure recordings (when someone asked me to play solos for their music.) But my mental approach to guitar and music is 180 from when I was trying to "make it." And I'm so so so much more happy just improvising furiously, for 90 minutes, every night. I know it sounds weird, but it's a religious thing. I listen to Bach and Coltrane (and many others, like all the Steely Dan guitarists; Holdsworth, Eric Johnson, et.al) and just PLAY. And it never gets old; I'm playing for myself. I'm only trying to impress myself. It's such joy, every night, and never the drag I made it to be when I was younger.
So yea: INTRINSIC rewards! They're everything. Getting paid is nice, but if you're not having a blast, why bother?
I think that in many ways part-time musicians are better situated to keep the joy of music alive. Full-timers, unless they became very successful or lucky, tend to take anything that comes in. A part-timer who has another career is never compelled to take a gig that spells misery because of the quality of the venue or the nature of the audience. Of course there are always pleasant surprises, but it is truly soul-destroying to play a four hour gig performing tunes that you don't care about for an audience that is there for any reason but to listen to the music.
>>It’s your intrinsic relationship to your creative pursuit that defines you.
I like that!
Reminds me of a quote from Miles Davis -> https://ibb.co/zfzTN6b
Music is a mind, body, spirit discipline and recognition (which can be fickle as well as fleeting) is just occasional icing on a very big cake of self discovery.
I cam across this recently - it seems apropos.
“Practice any art . . . no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”
— Kurt Vonnegut
I once thought audio engineering was an almost sacred calling for me, and I pursued it for years. Eventually, though, it became clear that I was ruining my health working insane hours under high stress for low pay just to record music that was mostly horrible. Worst of all, the burnout caused me to lose all love for music itself. I left the field 25 years ago and now enjoy playing and listening to music more than ever.
As a teen I wanted to become a rock star or a jazz star. I practiced obsessively. But neither happened. But I have played guitar for 50 years and still love it. Eventually, I began teaching guitar as a “career” and now play in two bands for fun and a little extra money. Once I made peace with not “making it”, I started enjoying playing more. And I think my life was better for letting go of those those unrealistic dreams.