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Can a person become a proficient musician while working full time?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by JayJay, Jan 20, 2003.


  1. JayJay

    JayJay

    May 13, 2002
    Hi,

    I would like to hear from your experiences if a bassist or any musician be good/proficient in his/her instrument if the person holds a normal office job in the day and practises only at night, together with some occasional jams with other musicians thrown in.

    Or a musician/music hobbyist can only be good in his/her playing when the person takes up music full time i.e. as a career with countless hours of playing?

    Does going to music school actually help much?

    As right now I fall into the category where i have a normal office job and only practises on occasional nights. I am tired of my mediocre playing and wanted something more. So I am comtemplating going into music full time.

    Let's hear your views
     
  2. 5stringDNA

    5stringDNA

    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    ****Not a professional musician*****:D

    If you practice an hour or so a day, and know basic theory (chord construction, scale positions, etc), and jam in a group setting occasionally, i don't see why you can't become a solid bassist. Oh ya, throwing some kind of a teacher into the mix helps a bit too :D. Music school definately helps because it requires certain amounts of daily practice, and you learn a great deal about theory, but I don't think its absolutely necessary to become a good player. I am rather average myself, but know several very talented bassists that have never gone to music school. A good guy to ask about this very subject would be Peter McFerrin. He usually knows a lot about this stuff.
    P.S.-If you quit your day job for the music thing, would you still be able to support yourself?
     
  3. Chris A

    Chris A Chemo sucks!

    Feb 25, 2000
    Manchester NH
    Not really Instruction related, let's go to Misc.


    Chris A.:rolleyes:
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher

    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    The one thing that I find really helps is to play with people who are better than me. It's cheaper than music school and produces guaranteed real world results as far as improving my playing and musical knowledge.
     
  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    I have a 9to5 and I'm a pretty solid bass player, well I like to think so at least :rolleyes:

    I practice and/or study at least an hour a day... sometimes more. I'm in three gigging bands although none are professional. I'd love to be a full time bassist and in the case of a rock/pop type band I know I am good enough, but the reality is, that I'd have to take a 10k a year pay cut (or more) which means kissing good bye to any hopes of owning my own home any time soon! :(

    Think of it this way... I'd be very surprised if many leccy bassists who end up making a living from being in a band are classically trained full time players.... not in the uk anyway.

    maybe in the states its differnt cause you have a very different scene.. over here you're lucky if you can a gig, let alone a good gig that pays enough to live on.

    I completely understand your comments. I detest the idea of working in an office for the rest of my life... it seems like such a waste when I enjoy music so much and the concept of big business is fundamentally against my principals. I dont belive in greed or stickpiling cash - which - working for yellow pages is pretty much exactly what we're about.

    the thing is, you cant bank everything on being a musician - by all accounts it certainly aint an easy life... and what if you dont succeed? - does that make you a failure?

    my goal above all is to enjoy playing music... and to try my hardest to make a living out of it... but at the same time to never let the desire to be a pro get in the way of the enjoyment.

    admittedly i have more important goals in my life.. having kids and doing the best i can to raise them is number one... music is a close second!

    you wanna know my short term plan?
    i'm gonna take some courses in the latter half of this year and really push myself to imrpove. i already study theory at a fairly basic level, but want to learn to sight read/ write standard notation and to get a grip on a whole range of different styles.
     
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    This is the very question that has been going round my head for the last few years!

    So, I feel I have learned a lot about Jazz and have improved immensely; but at the same time realise that the people who I go and listen to at gigs, are way better than I can ever hope to be at my current rate of progress.

    I have also noticed a huge improvement in people I have known who have switched to playing full-time - so have gone from my situation of full-time job.

    There is a local college which runs a full-time access course which leads to a qualification in Jazz and several people who have been going to the same part-time Jazz classes I do, have switched over to full-time and their progress has been hugely noticable!!

    I don't think there is anything to take the place of putting time in and practising - every day. And my feeling is that I won't achieve the standard I really want until go full-time.

    So - funnily enough my girlfiend was looking at horoscopes recently and there was a website about Chinese ones which seemed quite accurate, but predicted I would be unhappy in my 40s, but then very happy in my 50s and 60s!! ;)

    I put this down to the fact that I probably won't be able to afford to take early retirement from my current job until after I am 50 and will then do Jazz studies full-time!! :D
     
  7. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    I think your situation Bruce is far tougher than mine since your aim is to play a complex form of music it naturally requires more focus and attention.

    Whereas I know I'm capable of being a pro playing a form of music that I love (I can dig playing pretty much everything!) and it's just the fact that the industry prefers maliable starlets over real musicians...
     
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I was really addressing the original poster's questions and trying to answer those - so I was sort of being encouraging to this comment:

    "I am tired of my mediocre playing and wanted something more. So I am comtemplating going into music full time."

    If you can do music full-time, I have no doubt you will get much better!
     
  9. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Yeah. True. I was just chatting aimlessly really.. This is talkradio after all ;)

    I dont think that JUST cause you work part time you're destined to be a mediocre player tho.

    I mean you're never gonna get to session player/ jazz guru level, even practicing each night...

    I personally find that after a day at work I sometimes find it difficult to re-focus on music. Not because I'm so into my job, but because it's so mind numbingly cack!

    Christ my job is destroying me.. I need to get out. I really do... but HOW?!! I dont even buy lottery tickets!
     
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think you're right that some people can be good who also have a full-time job - I know a few of these.

    But as the question being asked, was : should I go full-time to avoid medicrity, then I say "go for it!!"
     
  11. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I hear you!

    Original question: This is exactly what I am doing - 9-5 during the day and play occasionally at night. I still usually manage to get in an hour or so of practice a day. During the past year I've started playing freelance and, while it's been rather slow going getting my name out, I don't see how I could have done it any faster full-time. The only drawback has been that a couple of people were looking for musicians to go on the road with - obviously I can't do that! I wish I could!

    As for music school, this is a question I have asked myself... Studying with a private teacher is a great way to improve and is certainly possible while holding down an office job. I don't know if it is a substitute for being immersed in music classes every day (there are others here who could answer that properly), but it definitely helps an awful lot.
     
  12. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    It seems to me that a good part of musical skill is to do with effort rather than raw talent - therefore, the more time you can put in, the better you are likely to become.

    If you only practise occasionally at the moment, it might be worth setting an intermediate goal of increasing your regular practise time before looking at jumping into a full time career; if you're not practising because you have a problem summoning up the self discipline to get down to it, there might be a long drop waiting on the other side!

    You could also work on increasing your involvement with other musicians - join a band, play for a stage show, take on some students. If you enjoy that and find that you are starting to notice more opportunities coming your way, then you'll probably be in a better position to make that leap.

    Wulf
     
  13. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Yes. Absolutely!!!!

    See, this is what I thought would be a good idea. I reckon if I really applied myself for the next year or two I could be good enough to work freelance... i mean tha mjaority of stuff must be fairly simple straight forward stuff right?

    i have many many offers of gigs/bands from people but none of them are paying!! - a BIG difference!
     
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    This is a good point and the people I mentioned, were going into full-time education and improving dramatically - so they were forced into doing stuff -transcriptions, arrangements etc. I'm not sure they would have improved so much without a prescribed regime of study?
     
  15. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Yes.. agreed. This is good point.

    This was pretty much the main reason I want to take a part-time course later in the year... to push myself into to improving at a better rate. That and to meet new musos at a simelar level of playing.

    I was speaking to a mate of mine who is a personal fitness trainer.. he was telling me that some guy in Henley on Thames pays him £40 per hour to train him, give him diatry advice ad help him lose weight.
    He said that he gets away with charging so much purely because the more people pay, the less likely they are to waste the money by not acheveing whatever their goal is.

    By investing hard earned £££'s into something I think you're much more likely to show commitment.
     
  16. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Hey - anyone looking for a personal music trainer. I'd only charge you £100 an hour, so you'd be sure of improving ;)

    Wulf
     
  17. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    LOL.

    On the issue of forced training though, I think some people will respond well to that, but some won't. I know I don't. What I've found in the past is that I'll try to get out of it, and if I can't, I'll just do the bare minimum to get by. But under my own steam it's a different situation. I guess everyone's different.
     
  18. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    See, this is what I thought would be a good idea. I reckon if I really applied myself for the next year or two I could be good enough to work freelance... i mean tha mjaority of stuff must be fairly simple straight forward stuff right?

    i have many many offers of gigs/bands from people but none of them are paying!! - a BIG difference!


    A lot of the stuff I have done thus far is very easy. Sometimes rehearsal isn't even necessary, since you can hear where things are going. The most difficult part is coming up with, on the spot, a flowing bassline that is on topic with the song, grooves, doesn't step on toes, etc (and remembering it the next time you play it! :D)

    Another tricky part is that a lot of people only want someone who will join their band full-time - they don't want a part-timer!
     
  19. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Well, this is what Steve (Lawson, teacher) said to me about session work, that 99% of the time you're playing really standard stuff.

    I think the biggest most important thing to have a session player would be a wide vocabulary of styles... latin, r&b, one drop, slap, fingerstyle, pick playing... etc.. etc...

    Ha!
    You're selling yourself short... I'd have gone for it if you said £150 ;)

    Naah, but you do know what I mean! - Those situations are different, but if I pay £150 for a 10 week sight reading coutrse you can be damned sure I'm going to attend every lesson and get the most out of it!
     
  20. CS

    CS

    Dec 11, 1999
    UK
    Can you still be good?

    I think that you can be as good as you want to be (to a certain degree) regardless of your situation.

    I'm an amateur, play most for free and usually play 3-4 nights a week as a minimum in a variety of situations.

    I'm not the best player about (as Wulf Tsal and MTR can verify) but I rarely ask to do a gig and rarely audition (once last year and once in 1984).

    My advice is to do the best with what youve got to get better(and get a teacher). If you want to go pro then do so because you want to go pro. One rule of thumb for going pro or self employed is "are you turning down a lot of work because of your 9-5?"