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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
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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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