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Psychology and Success

Discussion in 'Ask Janek Gwizdala' started by Steve Amadeo, Jul 18, 2007.

  1. Steve Amadeo

    Steve Amadeo

    Nov 14, 2005
    Wallasey, UK
    Hi Janek,

    There's so much more I need to know...

    It's quite clear that the best, most knowledgeable and most successful improvising musicians didn't sit on their backsides writing to music forums day after day looking for advice, but they practised long and hard day after day, year after year.

    I'm sure, however that they didn't all face the mountain of work without a care in the world, with ease, without nagging doubts, without fear or discomfort, without lack of self-confidence, without raging insecurity or lack of self-belief... or did they?

    Would it be too personal to ask you, Janek, if you ever struggled with any of this stuff as you developed? Do you know of other successful high-level musicians who did too? Is it possible for musicians to push aside all those potentially debilitating feelings and still achieve a high level of musicianship? I'm not talking about success in financial terms but purely in terms of a sense of personal satisfaction and achievement in reaching a standard of excellence in the thing a person does with his life.

    Miles Davis called being a musician "a blessing and a curse". If you face the negative side of it (emotionally speaking) how do you rise above that to achieve the positive?

    I hope my questions make sense.

    All the best,

  2. janekbass


    Jan 28, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Founder and CEO of http://janeksbassstudio.com

    I still struggle with this stuff today man. It's not something that becomes magically easy overnight. Of course my understanding of the industry, the mechanics, the art, the study, and the dedication become better over time, but it doesn't neccessarily become easier.

    I don't think I know any other "successful high-level musicians" as you put it, that haven't had to struggle emotionally or finacially at some point for their art, and for what they believe in.

    when talking about improvising "jazz" musicians for instance, you have to realize that we start our careers at an immediate industry status disadvantage. This is because jazz occupies less than three percent of the market share of the music industry. And this figure is getting lower as we speak, not higher. As long as you understand this, and don't try to re-create something from the 50's and expect it to be as bigger success as it was back then, then you'll probably be okay.

    Being honest with yourself, and honest with your audience is what is going to make you successful. This is, of course, one of the hardest things to do as there are a millioin and one influences from alll around, pushing in this direction and that direction. There is no way around the shedding. You just have to do it to make that connection with your instrument. The ideal time for doing this is when you're young of course, and you perhaps have the luxury of living with your parents, not having to take a full time job, and perhaps being in school where you're studying music with like minded people. The more you can do before you get into your 20's and start having to work hard the better. Even if you're working hard as a musician, the more time you can put into your isntrument before your career starts getting busy the better. Because once you have a full schedul eeach year, perhaps a wife, maybe some kids, practicing is going to decrease rapidly.

    It is totally possible for musicians to put aside all the doubts that crop up when you're first delevoping a sound and a career. It's hard, but it's possible. And most of those people that we all look up to in some way or another have had to go through that, and have done so with some success.

    And you say that you're not talking about this in terms of financial success..... I'm not either, but money = food and rent. so there is somewhat of a financial need in life regardless of what you do. And music is no exception.

    I struggled hugely when I first moved to NYC. It was the most difficult thing I have ever been through. I could play. I could play very well. And not only that, but I had done a ton of gigs already with some huge names in the industry. I soon came to learn that all of that stood for just about nothing when you move to a new city like New York and try and break into the scene.

    People want to see you around for a few years before they'll pick up the phone and hire you. they want experience, resume, and they want to be able to hang with you. The social interaction thing is huge when you're moving into a scene. I would hang long and hard at all the gigs, with tons of different people, and then slowly things would open up.

    I actually used to hate that aspect of the scene, and thought it would be ideal for people to be hired on their ability alone. But the first time you sppend 4 weeks on a tour bus with a musician that you can't stand, who is a jerk to be around, you'll soon realize it's all about the hang.

    A tour, no matter how long, consists of hanging. you might play music for a grand total of 7 1/2 hours a week. if you're lucky. now for the other 160 1/2 hours what are you doing? hanging out with those cats around you.

    So don't forget that side of things. Jazz musicians are especially non interactive socially on the whole, and spend their time wondering why they don't get called for other kinds of higher paying gigs that tour etc.... not really too hard to work out when you look at what I just wrote.

    And of course there are the dark times when you see people that you might consider to be lesser players than you, or not capable of the gigs they're doing. And these guys are working non stop when you're home scraping around for food. It happens, there's no way around it, and if you get caught up in it you'll drive yourself up the wall.

    You have to be open, you have to let things come to you, and you have to be positive. The more positive energy you put out there, the more positive energy will come back to you.

    I suppose you could look at being a musician as being a blessing and a curse. But I have to look at it as a blessing. I don't know how to communicate the things I want to say to the world through any other medium besides art. Whether it's through the bass, my voice, or my writing, it's what I do the best, and it's what I enjoy the most. There's not a feeling like it in the world when you find what it is you truly love to pursue. It's the motivation that wakes you up in the morning to search until the sleep again. It's the force that drives you through all the bad times, the hard times, the no money times, and the painful times.

    Music is life.


  3. Steve Amadeo

    Steve Amadeo

    Nov 14, 2005
    Wallasey, UK
    Thanks Janek. I suppose many of us who look up to the seriously good players have a clouded perception of it all. Joe Zawinul had a point when he said in his biography "it's simply a matter of hard work".


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