A lot of aspiring professionals come to see me. They usually are people who have been on the scene for awhile. They have tried different ways to break through, they haven’t been able to make satisfying progress. That’s why they have come to my studio: to get a new approach.
They come, they talk, I listen. Usually, they finish their story with a low voice. Like they failed. It is very hard for them to admit such things to an almost total stranger. I admire their courage. I am not sure why they think they failed. I am more interested in understanding the different mechanisms that drove them to that feeling.
So, gently, we start to have a conversation. They empty their bag. Then, we discuss what this player should try. We go at length about it, contemplating the different scripts of what chasing a band would look like for him (if chasing a band is his goal). I propose only the practical, the doable. In my mind I reject anything that could be even remotely cast as useless, or extravagant. I go only for meat and potatoes.
It takes a few lessons to thumb through someone struggles, it’s never a simple process. The plan we devise is absolutely custom tailored to the student. How could it be any different?
I then give him a few exercises, a few tricks to try, a few concept to mull over.
But, he does only a small portion of what was assigned. He will not go to audition, for example. Or, he will not even read through a few ads looking for drummers. Every week, he comes back to the lessons as defeated as the first time he sat in front of me.
Because it is human nature to go back to the familiar. Always. Only the ones that can stand discomfort and unease will succeed as self-employed musicians. And my job is to make the unknown more palatable, to sweeten the lemon, so to speak. And it is a job both delicate and forceful. It obliges me to take risks all the time.
Is that a recipe for disaster?
No, I really don’t think so. If someone needs help, I’ll help the best I can. That’s part of my job.