The job of a musician is not a job. I mean that being a musician could be so many thing that there is no such thing as being a musician per say. One can be a producer. One can be a player. A teacher. A promoter (Simon Cowell). A composer. A DJ. A performer (Stomp!). A rebel (Sid Vicious). A lyricist (Bernie Taupin, lyricist of Elton john). A poet (Johnny Cage, Bob Dylan). An activist (Bono, Bob Marley, Bob Geldof). Etc.
Hence the title: What do you want?
That’s the hardest thing for an aspiring musician to determine. Once they know, obviously, it’s easier to carve a path. But that nagging question has to be addressed first: What do you want?
I tell them to imagine it’s like a candy store. You can be anything you want from composing music for video games (A very lucrative occupation), to a gigging musician. You can chose to stay behind the scene as a composer for people in needs of songs (and, hopefully, one of your song becomes a hit), or decide to go in the spotlight and show the world your craft . A-NY-THING!
But that’s an difficult question that goes deep, doesn’t it?”What do you want?” What do you TRULY want? Because you sense that once you’ve found an answer, even the beginning of an answer, there is no turning back: you will have to start the quest to get what you want. Because if you don’t, you know, that you will regret it painfully. Asking that question is not for the faint of heart. I know it all too well.
When I was in France, I wanted to be a drummer. I thought I wanted that more than anything else in the world.
I was at the conservatory while in high school. I was there during lunch time (which last 2 hours in France). I would be doing my exercises up there, in the percussion department, right under the roof. I’d be studying the timpani, the snare drum, the xylophone, the tambourine, anything that can be shaken or hit in the classical world. After a few years it was time to chose my future job. I thought: “Easy! I’ll become a drummer!”.
But I needed to study the drum set, something completely omitted at the conservatory. I asked around in my small town where would be a good place to do that. I thought about Africa. Drums/Africa… You get it? Yes, I was naive. Anyway, the answer to my question came back: Berklee College of Music, Boston, United State of A.
That’s far. I’ve never been far away from my family. And I love my country.
That’s expensive. My parents were not rich by any means. It will take a lot of sacrifices to get me across the ocean.
That’s nowhere. I didn’t know anyone in that region of the world. We had friends in Quebec, which is not quite the same.
So, here I was. I was praying at the foot of my manhood: what I wanted would require incredible sacrifices. There were no two ways about it. In order to become a drummer, I would have to say goodbye to a lot of very very precious things in my life like my childhood, my country, my safety (America and its second amendment doesn’t look that welcoming from Europe).
So, that was the trade off: I could chose whatever I wanted to do in the kingdom of musical jobs, but I had to get outside of my comfort zone and build a world just for myself.
So, let me ask you this, yet again, and bluntly:
What do you want?