There are so many clichés and preconceptions about the life as a musician. Jokes, when you still lie in bed at 10 a.m. (although you worked in the studio or on stage until three or four the night before), or how good the money is we earn for standing on stage for this short time…
Of course – nobody sees what goes on “behind the scenes”, but life and survival as an artist was never easy and perhaps never will be. There is so much work others do not see – beginning with office-stuff, taxes, and all this other fun that comes with being a freelancer.
And the other things:
It is assumed that I am on top of my game – always and most pressure come from me here, of course. To stay in good musical shape – and hopefully improve. This takes practice, practice, practice. Depending on the instrument, this can be very different. I always need to practice scales, intervals, arpeggios – in different tempos and rhythms. Learn new “vocabulary” – pop-, rnb-, jazz-repertoire, licks and runs.
This assumes that I know how to work with my equipment. Not only my instruments but as well the software that I use in my studio. I use Logic Pro but am currently learning to work with Ableton Live, as more and more producers use it and the architecture is rather different than Logic Pro. How do the plugins sound and how to they work? Reverbs, filters, effects? How do I make them sound the way I hear in my ear?
And then there are the projects I work on and in. Learn repertoire and let it become a part of me, so I can play it best. Right now, I play bass for Ivy Flindt, Papillon Rising, and Sebó. Guitar for Pauline Moser. But often, there are short-notice gigs to sub for a colleague, or stand-alone concerts like one I play with the saxophonist Richard Wester next week. Only his sax and my bass, everything will be improvised on the spot and I will open with a solo over ten, fifteen minutes. The bass ist not the typical solo instrument and most of the time I don’t even enjoy bass solos so right now I am in the process of finding a strategy. It is not the question what I can play but about the concept: should I play a cello-solo or a fugue on my bass? Should I re-arrange a well-known tune for bass? Should I use my looper and other effects and rather “paint” with sound?
All this takes a lot of time and work and is necessary to sound professional on stage. The preparation is the main work – the concert is only the crowning finale. This is the big difference between a pro and a good hobby musician who has to use most of his time for his “real” job – you can hear it.
Before the gig come blood, sweat, and tears. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Lastly, I am blessed to be able to pay my bills by doing the stuff that I love! It is said that who makes his hobby his job will never have to work again. And there is some truth in that. But I am sure that there are bank clerks or car-sales-persons out there who love their job – and still get paid well to do it!
Work is still work – even work as a musician. But as long as the fun prevails I am thankful that I can be a musician – and hope that everybody can see this when I am on stage!
But now back to business! Until next week, big cheers from my Heaven’s Club Studio!