The other day I was teaching a voice lesson, and at the end of the lesson I was talking to my student about the Build A Band Training I am putting on for Youth. I was explaining how the students would be booking their own show and learning what it is like to be a performing musician. My student looked at me and said “but don’t you have to be really good to book a show?” I looked at him and said “they are good. I wouldn’t let them book a gig if I didn’t think people would want to listen to them. You could book a gig too if you want to perform.” He knows that these students are good, but I think most people have the idea that you don’t step on stage until you are perfect at what you do. People think I’m blowing smoke up their ass when I tell them that they are a musician and they can perform too. But here is the thing, if you put the time in, practice hard and polish your act, you can perform in many venues in Vancouver.
When I first started playing, I sucked. I sounded horrible. I was in denial about this because I loved music so much. I was so enamoured with every little sound that the guitar made that I didn’t care! An open mic to me was the pinnacle moment, a focus that would guide me through months of labour. I had fears, but I wasn’t thinking about whether I was good enough to try. I knew I had to try it out.
You my fellow musician, can try it out too, if you so desire! If your will is strong and your love of all things music is true, you can make it to the stage. I’m not saying you will play Carnegie Hall and I’m not saying you will make $1 billion and go pro; all I am saying is, you’re likely better than you think you are. The only way to find out what you’ve got is to try and stick with it. It sounds cliché, but it’s true. Here’s why.
I have a friend, let’s call her Clarissa. For years Clarissa kept saying: “I don’t feel like I’m a real musician!” She had recorded songs, released a CD, went on tour… but she didn’t feel like a musician. She had made money playing concerts and touched lives with her beautiful voice and songs. She still didn’t allow herself to feel like a musician. Why is that? Because in our culture we elevate musicians to an immortal status. We put them on pedestals high above us and pay hundreds of dollars to see their performances. They become god-like creatures and we can only dream to walk amongst them. There is something to be said about artistry and the pursuit of excellence, but fame and artistry don’t always go hand in hand. If you want to be a musician, put time and effort into it, and if you attempt to grow at it, you are a musician. Period.
Clarissa just released a new CD; her song is charting on a local station, she’s got thousands of views on one of her music videos and she’s receiving lots of offers to play shows. She recently said to me, “I think I’m a musician now,” to which I replied “finally, I’ve been telling you for years that you already are!”
Here is my favourite Amanda Palmer quote: