I have been at the University of New Mexico for over a year now as a graduate assistant. During my assistantship I have had the privilege to teach privately and also instruct some trumpet masterclasses. On top of this teaching, I feel as if I am looked to as a role model for many students at the university (I hope that doesn’t sound too cocky).
One thing that I continue to stress to my peers is, that in the music world the more friends/contacts you have the brighter your future as a musician will appear. Though many of us come from Big Ten schools, or giant music programs where it seems there are billions of capable musicians out there. You are slightly wrong, the music world is a small one, and you will ALWAYS run into someone from an earlier point in your life. Sometimes (this has happened to me MANY times), you will be contacted by one of these friends/contacts with a gig opportunity. This afternoon I was contacted by my friend Jim Keen. We continue to keep in touch to the best of our abilities. Jim knows from our time together at Indiana that I am a dedicated musician, with solid chops and experience. Jim also knows I am easy to get along with and not a very heavy drinker. He called me today to offer me a 5-week tour with The Grinch That Stole Christmas. The pay was going to be around $1,000/week. Though I absolutely LOVE musicals, it was just too short term to leave everyone here in New Mexico on such short notice.
This brings me to some important points for young musicians...
1.While in school get to know all of your fellow musicians. Don’t be a silent hermit that goes to rehearsal and leaves without saying a word. Ask colleagues out to lunch, tell them you enjoyed their playing, accept their invitation to a night of drinks. You certainly do not have to be their best friend, but you should constantly be showing them and everyone else that you respect them no matter how good/bad, old/young, sexy/ugly they actually are.
2.On top of that you should be showing your colleagues on a daily basis that you are a very consistent, solid, and musical person. I
-In school we get to used to the idea of “it’s just school.” We show up un-prepared constantly because we have a span of about 100 rehearsals to fix any problems. If this is you... Do you still wonder why you aren’t getting gigs?
3.Finally, you should be proving to everyone that you are easygoing and fun to be around. You don’t take things personally, and you treat others with respect and kindness ALWAYS!
Now many people may think, isn’t this just how you are supposed to treat fellow humans? You are right this is true. However, some musicians believe they are above everyone else because... “I went to Julliard,” “I was principal in the Alaska All-State Orchestra,” “I am a graduate student,” “I know more than you do.” Maybe some of these things are true, but we are all struggling with something if we are still in school and not out in the field getting paid to perform for a living.
Some may argue, “Phil Smith doesn’t have to be friends with everyone.” This argument may be true, I don’t know him. However, from what I have heard he is a very pleasant man to be around. If you happen to be the best trumpet player in the world, then yes you may be exempt from this ideal.
So the next time you think you should roll your eyes at a colleagues comments, lash out after being told something you do is wrong, throw a temper tantrum because you didn’t get your way, ignore someones advice because they are less qualified or not as seasoned a player as yourself cause you went to “Harvard”... Think before you do anything, because you may be pushing away people who could be the key to your future as a musician.