The most important things the classroom didn’t teach.

Photo by Kael Bloom on Unsplash

I moved to London, UK in 2007 to attend music school. I came from a small market town where there wasn’t a music scene and there was such a small chance of working as a musician there that I didn’t even know that being a professional musician was a job.

However, the best lessons I learned there weren’t in the classroom. They came from life itself. From conversations with others, from successes and failures, and from battling to build a career in music.

These lessons weren’t at all pretty. They still make…

How little the public really knows about the reality of working life as a musician…

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

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…

Life Lessons From A Career In Music

I moved to London in 2007 to study bass guitar at music school.

And shortly after I started my course I figured out what I wanted from my time there.

I wanted gigs and I wanted to work.

I wanted a career.

Many of my classmates shared that aspiration so it didn’t take long before we’d ask anyone we could how we could pick up gigs and start forging out a career for ourselves.

The typical response we’d get was along the lines of “be good, be dependable but try to focus on what makes you unique. …

I have a confession to make: I love watching musicians argue about music. I find it fascinating to listen to the different opinions that people have, and I really can’t think of a single musician I’ve met who hasn’t, at some point, been tempted into a debate along the lines of: “Jaco Pastorius is the best bass player ever” or “Pat Metheny is the greatest guitar player of all time”. These kinds of statements are usually met with a fierce response like: “How can you say that? If you put Jaco on the Slipknot gig, there’s no way he would…

As I write this post, it is late December 2014, and I have just been asked one of the hardest questions I’ve ever been asked. I am currently playing in a theatre show. After one of the shows, I was on my way into town for some food, when a young boy, aged maybe eleven or twelve, approached me and said: “you were the bass player in the show just now, right?” I told him that I was. He told me that he’s just started playing bass in his school band. “I really enjoy it”, he said, “but I get…

“I learn every time I play” is something I have heard so many times during my career. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it is impossible to learn when you play, and I certainly don’t disagree with the sentiment of this statement. Imagine how great it would be to make progress every time you picked up the instrument. Unfortunately, for me, this simply isn’t so.

Several years ago I was fortunate enough to perform in a six week theatre show. We rehearsed for a week, doing band rehearsals, cast rehearsals and technical rehearsals; then we went straight into…

Regardless of the genre, I get very excited watching musicians of very genuine quality perform. I have been fortunate enough to see some that have had a huge impression on me. I have seen Pat Metheny, Chris Thile, Herbie Hancock amongst others and there’s something about seeing musicians of this level perform that always interests me.

Many of the performances mentioned above were ones that I attended with fellow musicians and, thinking back on those experiences now, what’s interesting to me is how we all seemed to go through a similar process during and after those shows. First of all…

I have been teaching musicians for several years now, from private students who are complete beginners, right up to those who are studying at degree or even at masters level. Across such a broad range of students there is one question that has come up more than any other. “Ok, what are we working on?” I will ask. “Well”, the student begins. “I write my own music. I play in some original bands but I’m really interested in getting my own sound. What should I do?”

This is one of the several million dollar questions in music, and, in fairness…

Hugh Richardson

This blog is about my musical experiences working as a bass player, composer, arranger and teacher in London and what I feel they have taught me so far. Enjoy!

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