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When do you become a musician?

Peter T. 04 Nov 04 - 08:37 AM
mack/misophist 04 Nov 04 - 09:16 AM
GUEST,KJ 04 Nov 04 - 09:19 AM
Scintilla 04 Nov 04 - 09:23 AM
Mr Red 04 Nov 04 - 09:27 AM
Mooh 04 Nov 04 - 09:38 AM
Jess A 04 Nov 04 - 09:42 AM
GUEST,Jim 04 Nov 04 - 10:55 AM
Peace 04 Nov 04 - 11:01 AM
Crane Driver 04 Nov 04 - 11:04 AM
shepherdlass 04 Nov 04 - 11:05 AM
GUEST,Jim 04 Nov 04 - 11:08 AM
Chris Green 04 Nov 04 - 11:31 AM
George Papavgeris 04 Nov 04 - 11:48 AM
mooman 04 Nov 04 - 11:49 AM
Chris Green 04 Nov 04 - 11:54 AM
Eye Lander 04 Nov 04 - 12:25 PM
Ebbie 04 Nov 04 - 12:34 PM
ToulouseCruise 04 Nov 04 - 12:57 PM
chris nightbird childs 04 Nov 04 - 01:12 PM
Little Robyn 04 Nov 04 - 01:22 PM
chris nightbird childs 04 Nov 04 - 01:32 PM
s&r 04 Nov 04 - 01:40 PM
Fliss 04 Nov 04 - 02:00 PM
chris nightbird childs 04 Nov 04 - 02:03 PM
Bernard 04 Nov 04 - 02:05 PM
chris nightbird childs 04 Nov 04 - 02:09 PM
PoppaGator 04 Nov 04 - 02:09 PM
chris nightbird childs 04 Nov 04 - 02:13 PM
PoppaGator 04 Nov 04 - 03:00 PM
Genie 04 Nov 04 - 04:52 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 04 Nov 04 - 04:59 PM
Bill D 04 Nov 04 - 07:32 PM
Joe Offer 04 Nov 04 - 09:17 PM
Blissfully Ignorant 04 Nov 04 - 10:23 PM
Ferrara 04 Nov 04 - 11:53 PM
GUEST,Sarah 05 Nov 04 - 01:53 AM
chris nightbird childs 05 Nov 04 - 01:58 AM
GUEST,banjoman 05 Nov 04 - 06:01 AM
GUEST 05 Nov 04 - 06:38 AM
Ellenpoly 05 Nov 04 - 06:52 AM
erinmaidin 05 Nov 04 - 07:19 AM
Jeanie 05 Nov 04 - 07:49 AM
Dave Bryant 05 Nov 04 - 09:06 AM
Roger the Skiffler 05 Nov 04 - 09:21 AM
Peter T. 05 Nov 04 - 09:50 AM
Dave Bryant 05 Nov 04 - 10:37 AM
Crane Driver 05 Nov 04 - 10:58 AM
GUEST,Jim 05 Nov 04 - 11:57 AM
Bill D 05 Nov 04 - 12:12 PM
PoppaGator 05 Nov 04 - 01:44 PM
chris nightbird childs 05 Nov 04 - 02:07 PM
Blissfully Ignorant 05 Nov 04 - 03:06 PM
Auggie 05 Nov 04 - 07:16 PM
Bert 05 Nov 04 - 08:19 PM
Auggie 05 Nov 04 - 10:07 PM
Crane Driver 06 Nov 04 - 09:24 AM
Blissfully Ignorant 06 Nov 04 - 01:18 PM
Peter T. 08 Nov 04 - 10:57 AM
Ferrara 08 Nov 04 - 11:33 AM
PoppaGator 08 Nov 04 - 05:34 PM
chris nightbird childs 08 Nov 04 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,Linda Goodman at work 08 Nov 04 - 06:37 PM
Blissfully Ignorant 08 Nov 04 - 06:51 PM
GUEST 08 Nov 04 - 11:38 PM
Blissfully Ignorant 09 Nov 04 - 12:45 AM
chris nightbird childs 09 Nov 04 - 01:04 AM
Peace 09 Nov 04 - 01:12 AM
Ellenpoly 09 Nov 04 - 01:20 AM
chris nightbird childs 09 Nov 04 - 01:20 AM
Peace 09 Nov 04 - 01:28 AM
Ellenpoly 09 Nov 04 - 01:40 AM
chris nightbird childs 09 Nov 04 - 01:51 AM
HipflaskAndy 09 Nov 04 - 09:47 AM
*daylia* 09 Nov 04 - 11:08 AM
Peter T. 09 Nov 04 - 11:45 AM
chris nightbird childs 09 Nov 04 - 11:49 AM
Peter T. 10 Nov 04 - 11:12 AM
*daylia* 10 Nov 04 - 01:45 PM
GUEST,Nick in NY 06 Mar 05 - 11:48 PM
GUEST,Patrick Costello 07 Mar 05 - 08:02 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 07 Mar 05 - 03:26 PM
GUEST 07 Mar 05 - 05:20 PM
Big Al Whittle 07 Mar 05 - 06:18 PM
M.Ted 07 Mar 05 - 07:26 PM
jimmyt 07 Mar 05 - 10:37 PM
open mike 08 Mar 05 - 02:15 AM
Big Al Whittle 08 Mar 05 - 04:44 AM
GUEST,Patrick Costello 08 Mar 05 - 11:53 AM
M.Ted 08 Mar 05 - 01:49 PM
The Fooles Troupe 09 Mar 05 - 02:21 AM
A Wandering Minstrel 09 Mar 05 - 08:07 AM
Roger the Skiffler 09 Mar 05 - 09:26 AM
RobbieWilson 09 Mar 05 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,Claire Z 09 Mar 05 - 05:09 PM
Dug 09 Mar 05 - 05:35 PM
PoppaGator 09 Mar 05 - 06:33 PM
GUEST,Val 09 Mar 05 - 06:42 PM
GUEST 09 Mar 05 - 08:57 PM
The Fooles Troupe 09 Mar 05 - 10:33 PM
Dug 10 Mar 05 - 08:03 AM
Leadfingers 11 Mar 05 - 07:10 AM
Ebbie 11 Mar 05 - 11:37 AM
PoppaGator 11 Mar 05 - 12:11 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 12 Mar 05 - 05:09 AM
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Subject: When do you become a musician?
From: Peter T.
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 08:37 AM

Serious question: when you do think you have become a musician? Obviously some people would think they are "born" not made. Some people would think they struggle their whole loves and still do not think they have made it to "musician" (I have a number of quotes along these lines). Some people would say anyone who makes music is a musician. Although I make music from time to time, I don't consider myself a musician, it was never part of my self job description. On the other hand, although I only write poems from time to time, I do consider myself a poet -- only because I know what it is like "from the inside". I noticed that Rick Fielding (the musician I knew best) ate, drink, and slept music -- it was his "default" mode, everything else was secondary. I envied that, somewhat, though I had other goals.

So -- do you think you are a musician? What are your criteria? I would like to get a better feel for how people think about themselves as musicians (as an outsider).

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: mack/misophist
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 09:16 AM

It might be good to have at least one answer from a non-musician. Even though I had 10 years of piano, about 8 yeasr of woodwinds, and played professionally for about 6 months, I am not a musician. I say this because I could never play well enough to suit myself. The necessary physical and mental skills just aren't there. Based on my personal experience, I guess it all depends on how you see yourself. Even though music is one of the most important things in my world, I can't be a music maker.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: GUEST,KJ
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 09:19 AM

Thorny one that Peter.Anybody that says 'it doesn't matter, it's only folk'!! is not a musician in my book. Never mind, personal gripe.I knew a lad who was learning-disabled, could hardly read or write but had a natural affinity with music, could pick up virtually any instrument and play it, had a natural sense of rhythm and harmony and making music was his life. Is he any less a musician than someone who has studied it formally, can read the dots, compose etc? I don't know, to me a musician whatever their qualifications or lack of is someone who can get to me emotionally.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Scintilla
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 09:23 AM

Good question!

I'm not a professional musician (though I'd love to be!), but I still consider myself to be a musician. For me the term 'musician' is an all-encompassing term meaning a player, listener and lover of music. I don't think you necessarily have to take yourself particularly seriously or profess to be an expert. But I think by calling yourself a musician you are giving yourself a bit of respect for what you do, and that should be encouraged. Us Brits are far too eager to put ourselves down. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing worse than a poser and I'm not saying the term should be used just to impress, but I don't think there's anything wrong with being quietly proud of what you do. As someone who is predisposed to unconfidence and low self esteem I find giving myself the label of musician helps me define who I am. I must admit though I do find the term a bit pretentious when other people say it so I kind of keep it to myself - it's the Brit in me hehe!!

I don't think musicianship is something you are born with - though of course some people are more musical than others. There's no mystery in it - it's not like genius. It's a skill you acquire through passion, hard work and dedication. As I write this I'm realising I suppose there are two arguments here - the philosophical meaning of musician and the technical meaning of musician. Hmm!!!

Sx


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Mr Red
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 09:27 AM

I reckoned (in retrospect) that was the time I started singing in tune with the colollary of it being in front of an audience. The pedants might refer to that as "singer" but how did I write songs without my "instrument"?

OK OK debate over - when I started to play the Bodhran in tune. (we tune because we care)


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Mooh
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 09:38 AM

I wish someone had told me when I was a kid that it was okay to think of myself as a musician, not the full-blown, trained, and recognized kind, but the musician-in-training kind. Many of my more talented students today are truly musicians, and others might be getting there, but the sooner they think of themselves as musicians the sooner they take it seriously enough to be one. As long as they don't let ego define their musicianship that is.

Singing and playing were the central part of my upbringing. I could sing well at an early age because of good training and instruction, had passable piano skills for my young age, and a good idea of theory because my Dad drilled the concepts into my head while I was still moldable. But nobody actually said it was okay to think of myself as a musician, so I went a long time with "duffer" as my musical self-image when in actual fact I was pretty experienced very early. Musical theatre, vocal competitions in solo voice and choral, piano examinations, weekly church choir, and lots of recreational music like music camps and family song shaped my upbringing.

But to answer the question at hand, I became a musician gradually over a period of my youth, but was not encouraged or inclined to think of myself as one until much later.

For some it has more to do with credentials, for others whether they're paid as a "pro", and yet others define it by experience. As serious as my training was, "musician" wouldn't be my title unless I had all or some of these requirements. Truth was that I was trained by "pros", gigged and practiced daily and weekly for all of my youth, and that should have been credentials enough to call myself "musician".

In the end, I became both performing "pro" (btw, I don't like the connotations of that word) inasmuch as I'm paid, and amateur, depending on other life forces, but now since I work full-time as an instructor of music, gig, jam, record, and hire out as a musical mercenary...I guess I'm a musician.

As for a music degree, it sure would have been nice but it didn't happen. Maybe when I retire I'll go back to school. In the meantime I'll keep learning to be a better musician the old-fashioned way, by experience. Every new note teaches me something, every student reveals something of music and life to me, every article, book, and recording has learning value, assuming I'm listening. Therefore just because I'm still learning doesn't mean I can't call myself "musician".

Best job I ever had, frankly.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Jess A
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 09:42 AM

I think you might have hit the nail on the head in the first place Peter, for me anyway. I think a musician is somebody who 'feels it from the inside'. Not necessarily anything to do with technical ability but anybody who can produce music and feel it as music from the inside, while they are doing it, is a musician in my book.

The converse is probably true too - if somebody can technicially go through the motions on an instrument I don't think it makes them a musician if they can't feel it.

I don't think performing music in front of an audience or not has anything to do with it though - performing is a different skill and you can make music without anybody else ever hearing it - doesn't mean you're not a musician though.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 10:55 AM

I'm a singer-guitarist (some 40 years now) who gets embarrassed when people call me "musician". I always thought that if I ever managed to learn to read music and get to that magical level of being able to play anything in any key and "master" the fretboard, then I might see myself as musician. When folks say playing by ear is a genuine gift I take some solace in that, but I still marvel at others who can "read the dots" - just as long as they can make the transfer to the fingers in an emotion-moving way of course.

It's interesting and encouraging to see other people's interpretations though - with therapy I might just begin to see myself as "budding" musician!


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Peace
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 11:01 AM

You become a musician when you answer that question for yourself. The process begins when you ask that question. (This is not meant to be a flippant comment.)


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Crane Driver
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 11:04 AM

Alistair Anderson is rightly acknowledged as a first-rate musician (concertina and northumbrian smallpipes). At one of his workshops (probably at all of his workshops, but I've only been to one) he said that the first step in learning to play is to start thinking of yourself as a musician. This has nothing to do with posing, or telling others that you're a musician, but with convincing yourself - getting into the right frame of mind. His advice was, when you're starting out, to at least pick up your instrument and hold it for a few minutes every day, even if you don't have time to play anything. Once you start thinking of yourself as a musician, you'll find you're playing whenever you can because that's what musicians do.

Once you're playing regularly, you'll start to get better - the only way to be a good musician is to be a bad musician, because if you're not playing, you're not getting better. But you'll never become a good musician until you start to think of yourself as a musician. First step!!!

Andrew


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: shepherdlass
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 11:05 AM

Tricky one, isn't it? When I was working as a professional performer, I tended to call myself an "entertainer" rather than musician because, the musos around me were all so much more capable, and I felt inadequate to claim the title. However, thinking back, this is actually pretty elitist: surely anyone who can make music at whatever level is a musician?

And, as for reading the "dots", that's just one small aspect of being a musician and I wouldn't say it was an essential one (presume no-one asked Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder if they could read).


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 11:08 AM

Thanks shepherdlass - the therapy's beginning to kick in.......


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Chris Green
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 11:31 AM

Being able to read the dots is like playing by ear, being able to read chords, being able to improvise etc. They're all useful skills and the more of them you have the greater the variety of music you'll be able to play. One of the problems I have with the way that guitar is taught to kids a lot of the time is that they have to choose to study EITHER classical guitar (dots) or contemporary guitar (chords, etc). Surely it would make sense to give them a decent grounding in both and then let them decide which they want to concentrate on?


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 11:48 AM

Brucie's answer is the best one, I think - it cuts deeper than external accoutrements like qualifications or even skill.

But I was niggled by GUEST,KJ's statement: "Anybody that says 'it doesn't matter, it's only folk'!! is not a musician in my book".

That is an aggressive stance, but it may be right. I am sure the Copper Family never thought of themselves as musicians; after all, they all had day jobs to sustain them. Neither would Cecil Sharp have. Yet who has made a bigger impact on English traditional music that the Coppers or Cecil? My point is: Being a "musician" is not necessary to make an impact in the world of music.

"Musician" is a label, that's all. It confers no rights, is no qualification - just a description.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: mooman
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 11:49 AM

I remember the very day I became a musician. I was 11 years old and was told in no uncertain terms by a "music teacher" that I was too "unmusical" to either sing or learn an instrument. The next week I added up my pennies, went to a second-hand shop and bought a cheapo guitar and was away...! That was more than 41 years ago and I enjoy my music more every day.

The best motivation you can have for doing anything is being told you can't do it.

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Chris Green
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 11:54 AM

True. When I was 8 I started taking cello lessons at school. A year later I was still on book 1, page 5 and was told I had no musicial ability whatsoever. I now teach guitar, bass and piano for the Local Education Authority to students ageing from 8 years old to degree level. This shows one of two things:

1) My cello teacher was wrong or
2) The LEA will employ any deadbeat.

(I think the truth lies somewhere in between!)   :)


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Eye Lander
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 12:25 PM

the speed that I am learning the English concertina - never!!


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Ebbie
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 12:34 PM

In a different world I would be a patron, an enabler. My idea of being rich would be if I could afford to have live music in my home at all times, performed by people that I could afford to pay well. Accomplished people, learning people, people who make music for the love of it and could afford to follow their dream because I was making it possible. I would love to be able to wander down the hall to the music room to sit for a few hours...

I'm not a performer but I'm comofortable calling myself 'musical'. I love music and respond to its nuances. I love to sing, to play, to write songs, to immerse myself in music's enviroment. I love to jam.

I don't really care about labels, but I thank the gods for music.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: ToulouseCruise
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 12:57 PM

I have a little bit of a different take on things... I sing, and do not play any (external) instruments. I also have had a bit of difficulty accepting different terms -- one of my friends who is an incredible graphic artist refers to me as an "artist" as well... others have called me a "musician" because I contribute in that area... others just call me nasty names, but that is too much of a thread creep.

I have come to the best (current) conclusion that I refer to the acoustic duo that I am a member of (yes, one guitar, two vocalists) as "entertainers"... and have often used the phrase, "I'm not a singer -- I sing."

I think the comments above -- which refer to how you consider yourself -- hit a strong blow to the head of a particular nail. I might just work with that as an exercise to develop my confidence, and try to avoid an ego-trip along the way!

Brian.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 01:12 PM

I live and breathe music, don't think I could live without it actually. I've been playing guitar and writing songs for the past ten years, and I started playing drums when I was 2! Taught myself piano shortly after learning guitar. At recent count I have 6 guitars in my house... I'm a musician, and always will be.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Little Robyn
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 01:22 PM

My brother showed signs of being a musician at 3! At primary school he was a musician in training and when he left school he became a professional musician. He's currently touring Japan with a musical show - not folk, but the sort of music he likes best. He was born with it and I think I was too (but I have a day job).


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 01:32 PM

I too still have a day job, but I won't be working in the shops forever. This is definitely what I was born to do...


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: s&r
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 01:40 PM

As soon as you try to make music. When do you become a good musician is a different question.

Stu


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Fliss
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 02:00 PM

I dont know if I class myself as a musician... I have sung since I was a kid, but not in choirs as I didnt like singing alto.

I learnt how to play concertina at about 9-10, but lost interest. I bought my 1st guitar at 15 and have learned in stages.

My turning point was 2000 when I went to the Boat session for the first time. I wanted so much to join in and the musicians encouraged me to take up concertina again, learn how to accompany on guitar and best of all sing.

I considered myself on L plates when I played as an extra at ceilidhs and got paid petrol money. Perhaps I am now on P plates as I have earned my first gig money.

Ive worked with a folk group of youngsters for 2 years and really learned as much as they did.

If Im thought of as a musician I would be very honoured.

fliss

PS English concertina Eye Lander.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 02:03 PM

I haven't played many paying gigs, but I've played a lot of open mikes. It's all about practice in performance, and exposure... whether I'm getting paid a lot or not.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Bernard
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 02:05 PM

I think a musician is someone who derives pleasure from making music and the people listening derive pleasure from hearing them do it.

A musician plays from the heart, not the mind...

The degree of musicianship is a different matter, and is of dubious importance...!! ;o)

I am considered by many as being a skilled musician, but I will never be as good as they think I am... make of that what you will!!


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 02:09 PM

It has to come from the heart, not the head, and being skilled enough to pull off what you want to do. You don't have to be technically good in order to play with feeling. When Richie Havens started he couldn't play a note. he learned quickly by using his 'open D' tuning, and began playing the clubs soon after... He isn't technical, but there are still few that can touch him.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 02:09 PM

Let me muddy the waters a bit here: I would say that I am *not* currently a musician, but that I *was* a musician for the three-year period, long ago, when I managed to avoid all "day jobs" and support myself (barely but adequately) as a street performer.

I don't mean to imply that my definition is dictated solely by economic factors -- nothing so crass as that. But it is a matter of how much time and energy one devotes to music, the priority that playing music assumes among one's daily activities.

When I was playing and singing for hours on end every day, I could tune up without a pitch pipe. Now I have trouble getting those damn strings at the correct pitch even *with* a reference. That's just one of many diffrences I could cite, but should serve as a good example of what I'm trying to get at.

(Now, I can *remember* what it was like to be a musician, such as I was, and I still know a thing or two about learning and playing the guitar and about putting my voice to effective use. That's why I don't hestitate to pontificate here in these threads. But my skills are not what they once were, and I'm not "living the life" the way I once did -- although there's always the possiblity of starting anew... So no, I do not now consider myself a musician.)

You're a musician if your primary focus in life is to create music. Doesn't matter whether or not you can read, whether or not you can play by ear; doesn't matter what instrument (even if "only" your voice) or how many different instruments you play. If you're devoted to creating music (and actually doing so, of course), you're a musician.

Of course, some musicians are better than others, and some are certainly more versatile than others. But anyone who is playing/singing full time, as their primary activity, can certainly claim the title, and even serious "part-timers" who play *regularly* qualify as well.

Those of us who pick a little for our own amusement, love music, go out to listen and/or dance, and maybe even occasionally "sit in," but DON'T play for the public regularly -- we may be music lovers, we may be musical personalities, but we're not musicians -- not currently, anyway.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 02:13 PM

Well stated Poppa. I hope to step it up to "full-timer" soon. My life is devoted to playing, writing , and recording. I love it!


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 03:00 PM

Chris, full-time or not, you certainly seem to "be" a musician right now. I suppose I should amend what I posted a few minutes ago to say that, in the end, anyone who conceives of him/herself as a musician, and who continues to make a wholehearted effort, certainly *is* one.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Genie
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 04:52 PM

s&r: "As soon as you try to make music. When do you become a good musician is a different question.

Stu"

Well said, Stu.

I find it interesting that I can call myself a "figure skater," "gardener," "songwriter," "singer," "guitar player," "parodist," "folk dancer," "teacher," "researcher," and any of a whole slew of words that describe THINGS I DO (some professionally, some as an amateur) and nobody bats an eye.   I don't seem to be required to be "accomplished" or "expert" at any of those things for it to be accepted by people. But I seldom refer to myself as a "musician" (despite having some formal training in violin, piano, choral music, etc.), and that's probably because of the way many people use that term.
E.g., in some circles, "musician" means "instrumentalist" -- not rhythm guitarist or drummer or vocalist, but instrumentalists who play lead or who play music with no vocals at all. Some people even add the criterion that you've got to be a GOOD instrumentalist before you're called a "musician."

This doesn't seem fair or logical to me, but I think it's reality.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 04:59 PM

When I am asked " Do you play the guitar?" my answer is usually "I play with it!" (I guess there is a fine distinction there.) I can play a three chord progression in a few keys and a five chord progression in a few less. After that the "capo" takes over. I play chords in public to keep my singing close to being on key. In the closet I can pick a few tunes , but not as well as I would like. I write songs and I consider this more my strenth than either my playing or singing. I no longer listen to the radio because music is always flowing through my mind and the damn radio is playing it's crap in a different key.
Does this make me a musician? Probably not, but mark me down as a music lover by a narrow definition.
         Sandy


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Bill D
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 07:32 PM

several people have come close to my concept of 'musician'....especially Chris Nightbird.....to me, one IS a musician when one cares a lot about how they play, sing and present music. I have 'done' some folk music for 40 years, but I have never worked at it, other than to do the minimum necessary to share a bit.

I don't have, to quote a phrase "the fire in the belly". Now, not all who DO are 'good' musicians, but constantly striving to make music and usually to make it as good as possible is the criteria I'd use. I am a striver in a couple other areas, such as woodworking, so there I'd call myself an 'artist', of sorts..."good" artist is defined mostly by others, but I feel that an artist is "one who makes a supply, whether or not there is any demand", and by that definition, I am not a musician. My wife would sing if she were the only person who would ever hear it...I would not.

When Chris N. says he couldn't live without it, he makes most of the point I am trying to make.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 09:17 PM

I started calling myself a musician when I left the job that paid me actual money. I spend more time on music than I spent on the job, so I guess it's legitimate to call myself a musician. I wouldn't pay money to hear me make music, though.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 10:23 PM

Music is all i do. Whether this makes me a musician, or , as my dad likes to phrase it, a lazy a***hole, is open to debate...personally, i'd prefer musician. It's less judgemental. And it takes into account the fact that i put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears (lots of those) into my music- it's the one area of my life where i'm a perfectionist, because it's the only language i can use to express what i'm feeling with any degree of accuracy and eloquence. I stumble haplessly over prose, but with lyrics and melody i can say exactly what i need to; and i mean need to, because most of the time i don't want to say it. It's painful to have that honesty, but i feel if i didn't i'd be betraying myself and anyone listening. In every song i write, i'm letting out a secret. I'm giving away a part of myself.

I guess what i'm saying is that after all those soul-searching, sleepless nights, to not consider myself a musician would render the whole process rather pointless. And i don't want to my only true form of release, and my only true passion, to be pointless. :0)

I suppose my answer to the question is, a person becomes a musician when they consider themselves to be a musician. Whether or not they're a good musician is another matter, and one for others to decide.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Ferrara
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 11:53 PM

I also think a person becomes a musician when they consider themselves to be a musician. It has many meanings, sometimes even for one individual.

I sang and played instruments almost all my life and I don't know whether I ever asked myself if I "was a musician." As Bill says, I know I would keep singing (and, to some extent, playing), whether or not anyone would ever hear. But now there is a difference. It was gradual over the last 10 years and I owe a lot to Jerry Epstein and Lisa Null for their vocal coaching, but there was a big change after Augusta Vocal Week in 2003.

What happened? Let me back up for a minute and tell about the time Greg Stephens picked up my MacArthur Harp and tried it for the first time. I could not believe the lovely tones he produced from that little harp. It was crystal clear to me that Greg was a musician. He was relating to that stringed instrument in a way I never even understood existed. He was finding many different thing that it was capable of, whereas I had just played it.

During Vocal Week, I had classes all week with Sheila Kaye Adams, and Danny Spooner and for me they both had something, it was a kind of wholeness between them and the music for want of a better way to describe it. Luckily I had brought a MD recorder and could re-hear all that music; I became very, very aware of how much I had missed when I was hearing it live. But what I did know, was that both Sheila Kaye and Danny have a presence when they make music that I respond to very much. I don't mean personality; I mean they are present with the music; somehow they are inside, touching and touched by the music and it just reaches me.

Maybe it was something Sheila Kaye said: "You have to listen with your heart! Don't listen with your head, listen with your heart." It did feel different. Anyway, music took on new depth for me and since then has been more important and more enjoyable than ever before.

And I make better music, too. I can hear, and use my voice in many more ways now and can produce better sounds from the zither and MacArthur harp. The thing is that I relate to each song differently, there's more happening between me and the song. I wasn't really hearing before and I certainly didn't know how to play with/dance with a song the way I do now. It's like doors opened in my head and i'm glad they're not still closed. So I do "feel like a musician" and it's pretty rewarding.

Good question, Peter.

Rita


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: GUEST,Sarah
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 01:53 AM

I was a musician from age 7 and have never since felt like I wasn't one. I am now playing semi-pro - would go pro if there was enough money in it to pay a mortgage - but feel just the same about being a musician as I did before I got a 'proper' job. It makes me who I am.

Cheers
Sarah


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 01:58 AM

That's exactly what I'm talking about!


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: GUEST,banjoman
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 06:01 AM

According to our local moris side (northwest) a musician is anybody who is not taking part in the dance being done, but is capable of lifting a large stick and beating the hell out of a bass drum. This also applies to injured dancers and hangers on.

A true musician is one who feels the music from insude and does their best to produce it again from whichever is their preferred instrument.
As for me - I once got a school report which stated that "this pupil is musically dead from the the neck up" which only served to turn me into a banjo freak. I suppose being realistic about this thread, then a musician is probably someone who can justify putting "musician" as an answer to "your current occupation" which appears on so many forms, from job applications/passports/loans/insurances etc.

Good thread - lots of points to mull over.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 06:38 AM

how many roads must a man walk down before they call him a musician?
And how many hang nails must one poor boy file before they call him a beautician?


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Ellenpoly
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 06:52 AM

I think this is a great thread and a good question.

I'm not a musician, (though I've been a singer and can play the guitar a bit) but my brother is, and some of my friends certainly are, so I can relate to this via my own "art" as it were, of theatre.

To consider oneself an actor to me is much the same thing. It certainly does begin with one's own perceptions of him/herself, and then is added onto by the amount of work put towards learning one's craft. I do think there is natural talent, but those who are privileged to have such a thing would do well not to rely on it, and most wouldn't because of their love of it, and their desire to learn whatever might enhance their joy of it.

The last, but not least aspect has got to be the audience. For actors, this is essential, as it's not a craft one can perform without that element to complete it. This is not the case with many other arts-one can write, paint, play an instrument and sing, dance, all on one's own, and take great satisfaction from just the doing of it.

But I can't think of anyone who would feel completely happy not being in a position of sharing what they love with others. Once this takes place though, then the element of judgement in the form of criticism (loving criticism from friends or relatives is wonderful and important to help provide a nurturing atmosphere) and I do think this can be extremely important, especially if the criticism comes from those one respects who are also experienced in the same art.

So for me, a musician who calls him/herself one-thinks, acts, and performs with love and respect of the craft.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: erinmaidin
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 07:19 AM

Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary defines musidan as follows:
one skilled in music: a performer or composer of music, esp. professional
I have my own opinions on that last bit. As far as the old saying "you're born with it"...I believe that to be true. My earliest memories are entwined with the joy I felt when I heard or made melodic sounds. I actually whistled tunes before the age of two without being taught, simply because it made me feel good. I think what makes one feel "good" defines what one is.
I've been told I am not a musician because I don't know theory. I'm a bright individual and could probably learn theory if I wanted...but that takes the joy of music right out of me...like hitting the doldrums when sailing madly over the waves.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Jeanie
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 07:49 AM

I think you've hit the nail on the head there, Ellenpoly. (And I, too, have been reading all the above posts and relating them to acting and theatre). To the essential elements of love and respect for the craft, I would also include in that the realization that there is always more to learn. I think, maybe, that is why some people who are (to everyone else) quite obviously "musicians" (or actors, or artists, or ....) hesitate to classify themselves as such. They have the realization of how much more there is to achieve and are never satisfied with how far they have come, even those who have reached great heights. That, in itself, is actually what *makes* them musicians, actors etc. worthy of the name.

I bought my daughter a lovely mug this year, which has written on it:
"Proud to be a harmonious, melodious, tuneful, you hum it I'll play it Musician".
The shop had a whole range of mugs for every line of work imaginable, all beginning with the words: "Proud to be...."

- jeanie


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 09:06 AM

In my dreams !

I might qualify as a performer of sorts though.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 09:21 AM

...in my case only in my dreams.
(Dave, at least you can sing!)

RtS
(aka the Croakin' Bullfrog)


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Peter T.
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 09:50 AM

Thank you to everyone who is contributing to this!!!! -- it is exactly what I was interested in -- I was a bit afraid that it would descend into fighting over a definition, but instead it is lovely to read. I like so many of the thoughts -- like the idea of being present with the music. Someone who always stuns me is the ballad singer Dillard Chandler (he shows up in the original John Cohen film on the High Lonesome Sound), who is a disaster as a human being, and in the film is essentially a bum -- but he is carrying around all these ballads in his head, as if he were a vehicle for the music. He is nothing, really: the music in him is everything. It occurred to me that he was a musician because the music was using him, rather than him using the music -- I think of Harvey Reid talking on his web site about how people who make music are part of this ancient tradition, well, universal tradition, and that links them to all the other musicmakers. Maybe musicmakers is a good alternative.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 10:37 AM

RtS - I was tending to use Sir Thomas Beecham's terminology, he would refer to Musicians and Singers as though the latter was not necessarily the former.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Crane Driver
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 10:58 AM

Whether or not you make money from it is immaterial to the question - what you are is not necessarily defined by what you do to pay the rent. A musician is someone who makes music. That to me includes singing, though I know many disagree. The Copper family may not have considered themselves "musicians" but try telling them that they're not "singers" just because they don't make their living from it. The initial question said "musician", not "professional musician" or even "good musician" - they're not all the same thing. How can you play music without being a musician? Perhaps the question should be "when do you start admitting to others that you're a musician?"

Andrew


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 11:57 AM

There are some interesting comparisons made with the art of acting, and the essential element of audience. Although I've been playing/singing in front of audiences for almost 20 years I cannot think of myself as musician, and I find it hard to consider myself a performer. Knowing how much more there is to learn (and by extrapolation I know I'll still be this side of the learning curve the day I'm issued with my heavenly harp) just keeps me driving forward towards the holy grail. Don't get me wrong here, I'm not frustrated by it, but fascinated and inspired by the challenge it provides. Music and the pursuit of improvement is one of the things in my life that keeps me looking forward rather than wishing I was younger – no way would I go back to being 18 again and wrestling with the "F" chord.

20 years of playing in the privacy of my own home (trying to keep out of earshot of my wife and then the kids) before plucking up courage to take my music to an audience might have been solid groundwork, but too long an apprenticeship. The friends I've made since make me realize you shouldn't "hide your light" for longer than is necessary; the real bonus for me is the meeting of so many wonderful people. The abandonment of the TV as a form of regular entertainment is an added bonus.

Although I earn a few quid as a solo player, for me nothing beats playing along with others in a jamming session. I'll probably never achieve my ultimate goal (my definition of "Musician") but I know I'll have a great time trying.

PS - When do you become a performer?


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Bill D
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 12:12 PM

Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy. 1844–1881

Ode

WE are the music-makers,        
And we are the dreamers of dreams,        
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,        
And sitting by desolate streams;        
World-losers and world-forsakers,                 
On whom the pale moon gleams:        
Yet we are the movers and shakers        
Of the world for ever, it seems.        

With wonderful deathless ditties        
We build up the world's great cities,        
And out of a fabulous story        
We fashion an empire's glory:        
One man with a dream, at pleasure,        
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;        
And three with a new song's measure        
Can trample an empire down.        

We, in the ages lying        
In the buried past of the earth,        
Built Nineveh with our sighing,        
And Babel itself with our mirth;        
And o'erthrew them with prophesying        
To the old of the new world's worth;        
For each age is a dream that is dying,        
Or one that is coming to birth.        

(this has been set to music by several poeple in the last few years, but the best I know of is by our own sometime poster SongBob.)


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 01:44 PM

This really is a great thread, isn't it?

I was very much struck by something Peter T. (the originator of this discussion) mentioned in his last message:

"...he is carrying around all these ballads in his head, as if he were a vehicle for the music. He is nothing, really: the music in him is everything. It occurred to me that he was a musician because the music was using him, rather than him using the music."

This made me think of an old acquaintance, whose name I won't drop; I met her years ago, when she was a stunningly talented teenager. It took her until about age forty to finally achieve a relatively modest degree of fame and fortune -- by now, she's become a sort of "cult figure," not a tabloid-scale celebrity, but a hugely respected artist among those who know of her at all.

I've never encountered anyone so heavily burdened by their own art, or genius, or whatever you want to call it. It was as though she had no choice but to pursue her musical destiny, no matter how difficult the road would prove to be.

Unlike the guy Peter was describing, this person is hardly a "bum," but she is (or, at least, was -- I haven't seen her in years) an unfortunate soul insofar as her musical identity really seemed to be a burden, like an 800-pound gorilla riding on her back.

If that is what it means to "be a musician," or to be a seriously great artist, I'm glad I'm *not* one -- almost as glad as I am to be able to hear and enjoy such a musician's wonderful work.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 02:07 PM

We are defined by our passions. Many people do see it as a sort of way to escape the "real world". When I first started out, toiling away in my room engulfed in the recording of my latest song, my dad used to tell me that it wasn't part of the real world, and I needed to pursue a career like working in a factory, or some other blue collar job. Of course, once he heard what i was doing, and how good it actually was he changed his mind.
It's always been a dream of mine to pursue a musical career, (and I'm not talking about the kind that makes you famous)it's what I'm passionate about. As far as I'm concerned if you stop dreaming you start dying...


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 03:06 PM

"As far as I'm concerned if you stop dreaming you start dying... "

I'll drink to that! :0)


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Auggie
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 07:16 PM

If you can play or sing, no matter how poorly, then you're making music and, viola!...you are a musician.
After all, think how quiet spring would be if only the birds with the really good voices chose to sing.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Bert
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 08:19 PM

I'm a singer.

Musicians are usually people who can't sing.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Auggie
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 10:07 PM

ah... make that Voila, not Viola.
Dyslexics of America, Untie.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Crane Driver
Date: 06 Nov 04 - 09:24 AM

If singing is a type of music, then the singer is a type of musician. However, words do change their meaning, and "musician" has come to mean "instrumentalist" for some. As I said above, I don't agree with this, but that's just me, I guess. For me, a musician is someone who makes music. "Musician" includes, but is not limited to, Instrumantalist, Professional Musician, Good Musician, Musical Genius and other specialist terms - it also includes Amateur Musician, Beginner Musician, Learner Musician, Lazy Musician, Ropey Musician, Dodgy Musician and rank Bad Musician - all are at least one step up from the Non-Musican. It also includes, for me, the singer and the percussionist! (Even some bodhran players! ;-})

When do I become a musician? Every morning when I wake up.

Andrew


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 06 Nov 04 - 01:18 PM

Some of us can sing and play, you know...not me, but some of us!


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Peter T.
Date: 08 Nov 04 - 10:57 AM

Helena Norbert-Hodge has an interesting discussion in her book on Ladakh, prior to and after the arrival of radio. Before radio arrived, everyone sang, well or poorly, or played something, well or poorly. Radio provided everyone with a new set of criteria of excellence, after which only a select group of talented people played music any more. (A classic example for the folk music specialists).

Murray Schafer refers to the world of music as the plenum, and the concert hall as the vacuum (A special place of silence to be filled up with professional music and near-professional listeners).

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Ferrara
Date: 08 Nov 04 - 11:33 AM

Sheila Kaye Adams tells about songs where old variants were lost once the singers heard an "official" version on the radio. It made people feel their version wasn't "right," or "good enough."

I certainly don't think that performing is any criterion for defining what is a musician. I went to an iris grower's once, she was in her 70's. Her husband and his buddy dug up the plants we bought. They told me they had played old time and country music together every Sunday for about 30 years, until their hands wouldn't let them play any more. I don't know if they ever performed outside of their circle of friends. But it seems like me that the origins of folk music come more from people like them than anything else. I think anyone who makes music purely for themselves, or who gets together with their friends for the pure fun of making music together, is a musician in my book.

Half the fun of this thread has been exploring different definitions of "musician," anyhow.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 08 Nov 04 - 05:34 PM

Q: What do you call a guy who likes to hang out with musicans?

A: A drummer.

There's been plenty of commentary about the question of whether singers are musicians, but little or none about percussionists. I would observe that relatively few people will open up and sing unless they have a modicum of talent, but that *plenty* of goofballs will unhesitatingly start banging on stuff to be bad (and loud!) percussionists. In other words, there are probably fewer singers than drummer/percussionists whose credentials as musicians are questionable.

However, of course, a good, sensitive drummer or other percussionist is every bit as much a musician as a player of any other instrument.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 08 Nov 04 - 06:19 PM

I started out as a drummer/percussionist. I moved to guitar so I could write songs of my own, and learn to play other's songs as well.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: GUEST,Linda Goodman at work
Date: 08 Nov 04 - 06:37 PM

Ferrara's message about how people can come to feel that the "authoritarian" version is superior reminds me of the time that my son was a toddler, fascinated with dogs. Whenever Benny saw a dog, or a picture of a dog, he would bark most naturalistically. We visited a gift shop daily, and he would have a grand time going up to each one of the little dog statues they sold and barking softly at them.

But one day, while we were admiring a live dog at the Post Office, a lady came up to us and said to Benny, "What does the doggie say?? Woof, woof??" (just as written- Wooof wooof). "Woof, woof", Benny replied dutifully, and after that, whenever he saw a dog he said quietly, "Woof, woof" and he never barked again.

What's a musician? I think that for a singer who can't play an instrument, it's when you sing and make up tunes all the time, when you can "hear" harmonies and instrumental parts when they are not present, when you go to a choir practice that has a good director, and most of the suggestions they make to the choir you have already realized yourself. You are probably born with some of this, but I think it mainly grows after a decade or so of being around music a lot. I have read that musicians' brains work differently from non-musicians'--things get rearranged somewhat.

--Linda Goodman


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 08 Nov 04 - 06:51 PM

I think my brain has been rearranged to the point where it's forgottend what it's supposed to do in the first place...:0)


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Nov 04 - 11:38 PM

You become a musician when you realize one specially intoned note placed just so says more in your song than the super fast gee whiz lick you are able to play to impress people....


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 12:45 AM

What about a well-placed note in a super fast lick? my speciality:0)


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 01:04 AM

Being a musician isn't about just skill. It's about being passionate about what you do and play...


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Peace
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 01:12 AM

It's also about loving what you do and having others love what you do.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Ellenpoly
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 01:20 AM

I certainly agree with the first part of that statement, brucie, but the second part is pretty subjective, wouldn't you say?


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 01:20 AM

I'm head over heels for it myself...
; )


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Peace
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 01:28 AM

Yes. It is subjective. However, I won't argue it. Just my thought on the matter.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Ellenpoly
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 01:40 AM

No argument intended.

;-)

..xx..e


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 01:51 AM

: )
I think everyone that's posted has a point...


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: HipflaskAndy
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 09:47 AM

A true story.
I once sat in one of the exclusive 'Box' seats above the stage at Leeds Grand Theatre.
I'd gone to see Opera North in action.
From this vantage point I could see all of the 'Orchestra Pit'.
As the performance was reaching its conclusion I watched a couple of the players there pack up their 'bits'
and leave while the performance on stage carried on - they apparently had no more notes to play for their particular instruments.
As the final applause rang, the musicians, barely having finished their last extended note, had feverishly scrambled away their music and gear
and were already leaving the pit as the cast took their moment of glory.
I was assured by the theatre-worker friend of mine (that had procured these seats for us) that this was par for the course....
The call of the pub over the road was too great for some, or the prospect of an early getaway, for others, was enough.
Professional musicians these!
When do you STOP being a musician?

Only semi-pro myself - certainly NOT jaded like they appeared - hope I don't get that way!
I reckon I started calling myself a musician the moment I began ENJOYING making music.
Still do.
Eek. Need a drink after that. Brandy anyone? HFA


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: *daylia*
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 11:08 AM

When do you STOP being a musician?

I think once you're hooked, you're hooked for life - whether you continue to play music or not. Once you've learned even a little about playing, reading and writing music, you'll never be able to "hear" music quite the same way again - because to learn music is to learn how to LISTEN carefully (among other things). Even though everyone is surrounded by music day in and day out, how many non-musicians really hear it as anything more than background noise?

I think there's important distinctions between "musicality" (or, the state of being "musical"), "musicians" and "musicianship". Everyone has "musicality" - because the natural world, including our bodies, is built of sound (vibration) and rhythm (the cycle of the seasons, of day-night, the in-out of breathing, the heartbeat, the 1-2 left-right "beat" of walking etc).

In the words of Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan (from "The Music of Life") What makes us feel drawn to music is that our whole being is music; the nature in which we live, the nature that has made us, all that is beneath and around us, it is all music. We are close to this music, and live and move and have our being in music.

So imo everyone is born musical, when music is understood this way.

A "musician", however, is someone who has gone beyond this innate musicality to learn how to play, read, compose music etc. For example, a 7-year old arriving at my studio for their first piano lesson already has "musicality", but s/he is not yet a "musician". At the first lesson, s/he learns how to

* listen carefully to, move with and "echo back" very simple rhythms;
* position body, hands and fingers at the piano;
* discern the difference between "high" and "low" tones on the keyboard;
* notice and locate easily very basic groups of keys (ie the sets of 2 and 3 black keys); and
* use those basic sets of keys to play their very first simple familiar melody and/or "compose" their first little piece

And as I dismiss their (usually beaming) little faces, I always tell them oh so proudly something like "See! Now you are a MUSICIAN! Now make sure to practice what you've learned today every day at home, so your musicianship will grow REAL fast ...."

For me, "musicianship" means the skills and techniques developed as an instrument (including the voice) is mastered. So while you can't demonstrate "musicianship" without first becoming a musician, you could, if you really wanted to, be a "musician" without developing any "musicianship". (You probably won't be the most popular musician around, though)

Thanks for the chance to muse along with you ... and great thread, people! :-)


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Peter T.
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 11:45 AM

Very insightful, daylia. So a musician is someone who has begun to organize their musicality, perhaps to some creative purpose (or just to play -- I always like the way no one notices that the phrase is "to play music" -- there is play involved).

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 11:49 AM

Not all people who play music are musicians. Just listen to American Top 40 Radio. If you can call it that...


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Peter T.
Date: 10 Nov 04 - 11:12 AM

"everyone is a frustrated musician." -- Lester Bangs.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: *daylia*
Date: 10 Nov 04 - 01:45 PM

Child: "I want to be a musician when I'm all grown up".

Mother: "But honey, you can't be both at the same time!"

*********************************************************************

Child: "I want to be a musician when I'm all grown up".

Mother: "No no honey, see those two people walking down the street? One's a musician. The other doesn't have any money either."


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: GUEST,Nick in NY
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 11:48 PM

I have always divided players into 3 categories, and these can be applied to any instrument... here it is for guitar
-guitar player
-guitarist
-musician

to me, the guitar player (or drum player etc. etc.) would be one who played around with it, but certainly had no mastery of the instrument. A player is one who plays, similar to a child, sometimes creating fantastic results, but nonetheless no master.

the -ist, guitarist, percussionist, the ist would be one who has achieved a mastery (relative to physical basics i.e. in guitar: picking techniques, dexterity, bends, physical control of instrument.) over the instruments basic techniques. One who would be a guitarist could get the guitar to do what he wants it to do, or whatever, but is still relatively inexperienced in other areas.

the musician to me would be one who would transcend his instrument(s). Music is sort of an Aristotelean ideal, a language if you will, and the musician will be able to speak fluently. (I don't mean actual music theory here, I mean as if the language is the actual music you hear.) A musician will be able to speak with their instrument, they will be able to play with others (jamming), it is a fundamental mastery of understanding, where the music becomes a part of the way you communicate, and therefore changes you (as in bilingual people).

That's a short description of what it means to me.
For further discussion I can be reached at Barefootbison@optonline.net
or at my bands website www.barefootbison.com


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: GUEST,Patrick Costello
Date: 07 Mar 05 - 08:02 AM

When I was a kid Roger Sprung once snarled at me to, "think like a musician instead of a banjo player", and years after that my music theory teacher in college said that I was, "a great banjo player but a lousy musician."

Both comments confused the crap out of my back then.

I've been making music for for than twenty years now. I make a decent living teaching banjo & guitar and from time to time I find myself snarling at somebody to, "think like a musician instead of a banjo player."

What does that line mean? Well, the answer really depends on the student. I think that the line between somebody who plays a few songs on the guitar or the banjo and a person you could think of as a "musician" is really a matter of perspective. To a person who can't play anything a guy who knows three tunes on the banjo looks like a genius.

In the end I look at the term musician as a way to describe a person who is comfortable enough with his or her chosen medium to work in a variety of settings without a lot of fuss and bother - but since the term is all based on perception I'll probably think it means something completely different next week or next year.

It's just a word. How people describe you and define your music shouldn't mean that much to you. You is who you is, and if you've got that part under control then "who you is" is going to change and grow as you mosey along.

Just make music and be yourself. Judging yourself against other people is always going to leave you feeling inadequate in some way or another. I'm a good banjo player and I love what I do, but if I compared my achievements and training to that of a concert violinist I could start to feel inadequate. What we forget is that the violinist in question may also be comparing himself or herself to somebody else. Don't be distracted from your own personal journey by falling into this trap. Allow the learning process to work.

And keep in mind that the learning process never really ends. We are al, each and every one of us, a work in progress.


-Patrick
http://patrickcostello.blogsome.com/
http://pik-ware.com


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 07 Mar 05 - 03:26 PM

I have always thought of myself as a singer who can do a workmanlike job of accompanying his songs on a guitar. I have not felt that I was a musician because I have never played a tune on the instrument, not from lack of ability, but simply because it was not a part of what I wanted to do with music.

At best, I have felt that I was a good entertainer, and was happy with that.

Now, all you nice people have changed my outlook and made me feel that what I do is make music, so I guess I have become a musician of a sort.

Thank you, mudcatters, for that. It feels really good!

Don T.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Mar 05 - 05:20 PM

The term 'artist' is overused. Not everything a musician does is art (e.g. your least favorite rock band). Not everything an artist does is music (e.g. John Cage)


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 Mar 05 - 06:18 PM

Small piece of serious advice from silly old man (me). Place what value you want on it:-

There are a number of aspiring pro musicians on this thread. Quite seriously I would counsel them all that, if you give monkeynuts for whatever people call you, you are too sensitive for this job.

get tough - develop the hide of a rhinocerous - or you will have trouble with this particular calling.

you are a musician when you have decided that is what you are going to do with your life, and no moron is going to deflect you from that path.

Pick up any music magazine and read the venom directed at people who have decided to grace this world with music. Listen in on any conversation regarding a major artist and you will understand that the world has written itself a licence to insult our musicians.

call youself what you want, you earn that right very dearly

best of luck

Big Al Whittle


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: M.Ted
Date: 07 Mar 05 - 07:26 PM

I am coming in late, but no one has made my point, which is that musicians think differently than non-musicians---you think in measures, rhythmic phrases, vertically and horizontally, but always sequentially--you count out the measures--you think about the order of sounds--and you are always totally focussed so that you don't miss a note, you also are planning and thinking at least two measures ahead--Some are born that way, some learn it, but you can always tell who does it and who doesn't--when you do, that's when you are a musician--


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: jimmyt
Date: 07 Mar 05 - 10:37 PM

I think this is a great thread. I started playing music when I was 9 in 1958 and got a cornet and instead of learning the Belwin Band Builder part 1, I started figuring out the harmonies of songs myself. I continued to develop my ear and not my reading until I was in the 8th grade and started playing in a Dixieland group because I could play anything I heard at that time (I played a minstral show in 1962 when I had only heard of 6 of the 17 ongs in the show until the performance.) In high school I started playing jazz and standards the same way and ultimately got serious about music. WHen I was 28 I decided I did not have the discipline to ever make it as a musician and found an alternative career.

As time went on, I have found myself back in music more than ever although I jump from Jazz to Standards to Do-wop to bluegrass to acapella harmony singing to ...whatever is around the next bend.

I love music,,, but I am an entertainer. I can please a crowd, period . I am not technically worth a crap at anything musical, but I am a great appreciater of good music and good musicians. I continue to explore new ideas musically just taking up the string bass 4 years ago and the penny whistle 2 years ago,   I am getting ready to sign up to take guitar lessons for the first time ever. 'cause when I hear those guys play those diminished 7th chords and flatted fifth/raised ninths, well it is just about more than I can stand. I still get tears in my eyes when I hear PERFECT intonation and a killer chord progression. Interestingly, I have never written a song.   I admire and envy musicians!! They are killer!


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: open mike
Date: 08 Mar 05 - 02:15 AM

this topic brings up two thoughts for me:
one based on the "how much practice time" thread is:
you are a musician when your performance takes up
more time than your practice.

the other is a thing i remember hearing recently about the diff. between
amateur and professional:
an amature practices until they can play it without making any mistakes.
A professional practices so much that they will not ever make any mistakes.
(something like that...not sure i got the wording right..did I hear that from mudcat?)


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Mar 05 - 04:44 AM

Please for give me, this is the second time I've done this in two days. I'm probably getiing soft in the brain (no arguments necessary there) but some of my lyrics seemed relevant:-

The Box of Music


They told me play in the sun
Go out and have fun
But your life is for real, boy
There's work to be done
And you best understand
That the fate of a man
Is in front of your eyes – you can't refuse it
So I'd run away from the light of the day
And I'd sit alone, and I'd sit and play
For I had this box of music
Strumming on this box of music

I was no more than a kid
When I taught myself
The chords that would bind me
And thus by great stealth
I hid in the places
I found empty spaces
Where dreamers can dream if they choose it
I was running away from the light of the day
And I'd sit alone, and I'd sit and play
Opening this box of music
Yeh strumming on this box of music

There I was walking on oceans
Drunk on the notion
I would transcend the stars with en-ough devotion
To the frets and the strings, making them bring
Forth a song of love, not excuses
Thats called running away from the light of the day
As I'd sit alone, and I'd sit and play
For I had this box of music
I was opening the box of music

Opening the box of music
Taking out the all notes and making them shine
Opening the box of music
They all seemed like good friends of mine



So the fingers get strong
You don't play the thing wrong
You don't even notice,
You practice so long
Be the world 'ere so wide
That small place inside
Is always your own, cos you choose it
You're running away from the light of the day
Just to sit alone, alone while you play
At strumming on this box of music
When you have the box of music

Perhaps I didn't have the right,
And I lacked the foresight
Turning away from the truth and the light
All the good that I done
It was all done for one
I'm sure most of my work
You'd abuse it
So I'm sneakin' away from the light of the day
And I'll sit alone, and I'll sit and play
For I have the box of music
I have the box of music

©Alan Whittle Wednesday, 20 October 2004


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: GUEST,Patrick Costello
Date: 08 Mar 05 - 11:53 AM

> no one has made my point,
> which is that musicians think differently
> than non-musicians-

That's just a matter of training. It's not that musicians "think in measures" because we don't (and I don't know anybody who does) - musicians are just used to phrasing musical ideas in the structure of a series measure. Most of the time it's an unconscious thing.

It's not a matter of knowing music theory (I've known quite a few great players who couldn't explain the concept of a time signature if you put a gun to their heads), it's really a matter of coming to an understanding WITH music theory. The attitude is sometimes expressed along the lines of , "I don't know why it works, but it works so I don't sweat it."

As for thinking differently, training in any craft is going to alter your view of the world around you. That applies to weaving, karate or playing the banjo.

Any musician is going to miss a note now and then. Perfection is an illusion. The difference between a pro and an amateur is that the amateur will freak out over a missed note and the pro will either ignore it or act like it was intentional.

-Patrick


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: M.Ted
Date: 08 Mar 05 - 01:49 PM

"It's not that musicians "think in measures" because we don't (and I don't know anybody who does) - musicians are just used to phrasing musical ideas in the structure of a series measure. Most of the time it's an unconscious thing."

Ahh, so you *do* think in measures;-)


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Mar 05 - 02:21 AM

A Musician is anyone who plays a musical instrument - but an Artist now ....


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 09 Mar 05 - 08:07 AM

about 1/10th of a second before the applause begins (and thats not flippant either)


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 09 Mar 05 - 09:26 AM

Well, I listen to recorded music all the time, try to get to a live session each week, when I'm walking in thecountry or trying to get off to sleep I always have songs in my head. It's when they come out of my mouth that I know I'm not, or am ever likely to be, a musician.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: RobbieWilson
Date: 09 Mar 05 - 09:45 AM

A musician is someone who makes music, that's the end of it. It's got nothing to do with whether you do it for money; some of the most mechanical players I have ever heard do it for money, some of the most musical people I have ever met don't.

It's got nothing to do with having attained the level of musicianship; no matter how "good" you are a) you can improve and b) someone out there is better.

It certainly has nothing to do with learning how to read and write one particular cultural form and I am astounded that in a folk world where music has been passed on orally by illiterate musicians anyone would suggest that it does. (O'Carolan could not read music)

Once you are a musician you can become all kinds of things; Performer, entertainer, educator, technician but never lose the ability just to make music, just for the hell of it.
love Robbie


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: GUEST,Claire Z
Date: 09 Mar 05 - 05:09 PM

Well, in all of these responses, I have yet to see the answer that I would give to this question.

I have struggled with this concept. I clog, play bodhran, sing, call contra dances - basically all things intrinsically involved with making music without actually plucking, bowing, or strumming. I struggled with this because without thinking of myself as a musician, I felt inadequate to particpate in the creative process my band goes through when learning and arranging new material. I didn't seek the label so that I could call myself a musician, nor did I accept the label, when others would say I was one.

It took me about 5 years with my current band and 2 cds to accept that my contribution was as a musician. In my participation, I noticed that the others listened to my ideas and that as our songs took shape, I had responsibility and the ability to help shape them along with my fellow musicians. I also developed my intellectual grasp and knowledge of our music, and felt relaxed and in control enough to express my innate sense of how the timing and tones can change to really make songs special.

Now, I pretty much think of myself as a musician and accept that what I do with my voice or whatever I am doing is being a musician. This is partly because the music is so much a part of me that most of it comes from my body without any actual thought - it sort of blooms out. - you all probably know that feeling well.

That said, I also think of myself as a planner, a mom, a wife, a community member, many things. To fully do something with the confidence required to do it well - you need to on some deep level know that you have the knowledge and instinct that gives you a right to express yourself. That is why it is important to think of yourself as a musician - not so that you can put it on your promotional materials.

Claire Z


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Dug
Date: 09 Mar 05 - 05:35 PM

I don't agree with you, PoppaGator, about being a musician when it's what you do most.

I don't perform all that much these days, but when I do I interpret songs and that interpretation comes from inside myself. I don't think about what I'm doing
with my fiddle as I sing- it just comes out with the notes that help my voice. When I perform I don't think about the technical aspects of my playing, but I do think about the song and how it makes me feel.

I know that I am a musician.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 09 Mar 05 - 06:33 PM

Hey, Dug. Whatever I said a while ago, I myself may not agree with now!

So many of the ideas expressed here are well-articulated and seem quite valid, even ideas that seem to contradict each other. Nevertheless, we all seem to know what we mean by being a "real" musician, or at least to share most of the same ideas.

When I stated that you're a musician when playing music is the way you spend most of your time, I think I was proposing one arguably correct case. Certainly, anyone spending most of his/her waking hours playing music has to "qualify" ~ but that is not the only criterion for being a musician, and if I implied that it was, I take it back.

I certainly know a few players who never perform in public, only for themselves and those close to them, and who have a deep understanding of the music they play. They're musicians, probably moreso than many self-absorbed performers, even some big-time music-biz celebrities.

Perhaps someone who ever in their past life has devoted serious full-time effort to playing remains a musician forever, even if they become less active later on.

Perhaps you and I both fall into this category. I certainly recognize the state of mind you just described, where one can play without self-consciousness and without worry about technical details, with much greater depth and expressiveness than was possible back when one was just learning.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: GUEST,Val
Date: 09 Mar 05 - 06:42 PM

"you are a musician when your performance takes up
more time than your practice."

Hmmm... I've known some folk who NEVER practice, then go out in public to render (rend?) tunes or songs with instrument and/or voice. Given the above criterion, they are musicians. Listening to them, though, I think the results are different from what openmike implies.

"an amature practices until they can play it without making any mistakes.
A professional practices so much that they will not ever make any mistakes."

I've heard a variant on that... an "good" performer (whether paid or not) is one who can cover mistakes in a way the audience never notices. "There are no mistakes, there is only Improvisation". We never achieve Perfection (at least, not while we are living humans) so the trick is to keep the audience from paying attention to the imperfections.

Personally, I think a Musician is anyone who chooses to create music so others can hear it. "Creating" in this case means making the actual sounds & arrangement of notes, i.e. performing with voice or instrument, as opposed to playing back a recording that someone else has made. Of course, not all Musicians make music that *I* think is "good", but that's just a question of personal aesthetics.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Mar 05 - 08:57 PM

M.Ted wrote:

Ahh, so you *do* think in measures;-)
--------------------------------------

Not really. The structure of the measure is always there, but when I'm playing it's not something I pay much attention to. I've been playing for so long that keeping the phrasing of a song just comes naturally.

That's kind of the trick to practice. Nowadays we tend to view practice as memorizing individual pieces of music, but the way I was "taught" - I never took a formal lesson when I was starting out, everything I know was picked up at jam sessions and hanging around with old players - was to view practice as a way to make the whole process of playing something natural.

How do I put this . . . ? Okay, a good example off this is picking up a chord progression on the fly. If you don't practice working with chord progressions then every time you want to learn a new song you have to consciously think about what chords are played and where the chord changes fall in the song.

If you put some real effort into working with chord progressions you can, in time, develop an instinctive feel for them. Instead of sitting down and working out a song you just "know" what and when to play.

It's the same way with measures. If you have a grasp of what a time signature means it's not that big of a deal to work up a practice routine to make learning how to phrase melodies in 4/4, 3/4 and 6/8 time. Once you "get" the interrelationships between scales and chord progressions improvising melodies becomes something natural.

The trick is to take it in sensible steps. People usually want to get into what they view as the "advanced stuff" right away. The other mistake is to assume that traditional musicians were musically illiterate. O'Carolan may or may not have known how to read standard notation, but then again the dude was blind so bringing it up isn't exactly cool. If you listen to his music there is an almost frightening level of complexity in a lot of his work. You don't pull that sort of thing out of your ass or out of your genes. The guy was one hell of a musician - and he wasn't alone. Clarance Ashley and Riley Pluckett both knew more than a little bit about the language of music. It's a lot more comforting to think their ability was based on drinking out o the right well or some genetic fluke, but the reality is that these guys spent their lives pursuing pretty unique artistic visions.

Learn the language. I don't mean you have to sit down a play note-for-note from sheet music. That's not doing anything but mechanical work. I mean get under the hood and becomes familiar with how and why this stuff works. That will give you the tools to find the right way for you to express yourself and communicate with other musicians using this wonderful thing we call music.

It's not a matter of talent. When one of my students ask me about talent I always say, "Ah, talent. Many are called, but few bother to practice."

-Patrick
http://patrickcostello.blogsome.com
http://pik-ware.com


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Mar 05 - 10:33 PM

You are a 'musician'
as distinct from just a 'singer' or an 'instrument player'

when noting down the words to a song you also insert

[Instrumental break - full verse]
[Instrumental break - full verse & chorus]
[Instrumental break - chorus only]
[Instrumental fill]

etc...


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Dug
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 08:03 AM

Poppagator- I agree with what you just said.   (Whatever it was-I can't find it now, but I remember thinking- I must tell him I agree with what he said. So there, I've said it.)

Yours agreeably.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 11 Mar 05 - 07:10 AM

s&r I think it was raised the point that its not so much about being 'a musician' as being a GOOD musician ! A far more important difference ! and one which , in my Not At All Humble opinion has remarkably little to do with Technical ability or knowledge of musical theory.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Ebbie
Date: 11 Mar 05 - 11:37 AM

Would it clarify the concept if we asked When do you become an artist? When do you become a carpenter? When do you become a parent? What is folk music?


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 11 Mar 05 - 12:11 PM

Dug, I *knew* we'd come to an agreement!

One of the best things to come out of this whole discussion, I believe, is that singers and percusssionists who may have been reluctant to think of themselves as full-fledged "musicians" have gotten a lot of reassurance.

I certainly wish I had felt that same reassurance years ago when I was a much younger semi-pro performer. Then, as now, I was a much more versatile and creative musician as a vocalist than as a guitar player, but I felt that my musicianly "status" was determined by my limited level of instrumental technique.

In more recent years, as a much older guy, I've had a few opportunities to sing with a band (in both "front" and backup roles), without an instrument, and it has always been not only a liberating experience, but a real opporunity to break new musical ground, to improvise more freely and effectively than I ever could as an instrumentalist. I've surely been more of a "musician" in those situations than I ever have been as a picker or even as a self-accompanied singer.


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Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 12 Mar 05 - 05:09 AM

Wandering minstrel,

Yeah, I can relate to that.

That tiny, hear a pin drop, pause before a wave of applause makes my head spin. If that happens on the first song, you've got the audience's attention, and you play out of your socks for the rest of the session.

That's when you find out you have something worth sharing with others, and that's when you know you are a musician.

God, it feels good.

Don T.


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