How little the public really knows about the reality of working life as a musician…
I’ve been a professional musician for 12 years at the time of writing this and one thing that has constantly amazed me is the way that those people on the outside view my profession and the people within it.
Many of these assumptions are informed by the way musicians are portrayed in the media. Popular culture too often presents musicians as romanticized ideals of musical and creative culture.
But these generalizations and popular perceptions couldn’t be further from the truth.
So exactly what is the truth? What doesn’t the general public understand about professional musicians?
Not Every Musician Is An Artist
At a professional level, many musicians quite happily make their living as someone who can reliably play for theatre shows and functions, record for artists, or work as a session musician instead of writing their own music.
An old teacher of mine who described himself as “a sideman through and through” was a fine example of this.
He was an incredible bass player who had toured and recorded with the best but, because he didn’t write or produce any music of his own, he always said there wasn’t “a creative bone in his body”.
Because musicians are often portrayed as the hopelessly expressive and creative types in films and on TV, the idea that a musician can play music and not be a creative person may come as a surprise but I assure you it’s true.
Does it mean that these non-creatives don’t feel anything emotional when they play or that they can’t understand the artistic importance of the music they play?
Of course not!
They just don’t feel the need to express themselves through music.