It may seem an over simplification and sort of “touchy feely” when some use the words “kindness” and “gratitude” as it applies to their career.
Granted, there is a certain amount of focused intention, confidence and even boldness to move one’s career forward. When feelings of jealousy, resentment, undue self-importance color one’s attitude, even though these feelings/attitudes may not be voiced verbally, the results can be detrimental.
As an art form, music universally causes the most immediate emotional impact on the listener’s soul. It is a “social” communication between the musicians themselves which is simultaneously flowed to the audience.
When the performance of a musician is of high quality and backed by the intention to stir the soul of other band members and the audience, magic happens. The performance is a success! Happiness is the result for all.
Producing that effect consistently should ensure a consistent livelihood and a long career. But there is more.
- Excellent musicianship – the only way to ensure this is through intensive study, practice and live performance experience in all styles of music.
- Business acumen – knowing how to promote yourself, networking and excellent communication skills. Especially listening for what is needed and wanted from whomever is in charge.
- Attitude – “kindness” and “gratitude” towards others including the audience!
Attitude is where you can completely scuttle your career. Since practice and study is done mostly alone, generally your attitude will not get in the way of developing your skills.
As mentioned, music is a social art involving people. You are there to be of service to others. It is a privilege to part of this social interaction where others value your contribution to create inspiration.
There is a sense of pride when one achieves a high level of skill. This is natural. Some artists may not have “spilled as much blood” as you have for your art. The trap is to not resent them for it.
I have often heard the term “jazz snob” to describe a musician who looks down on other musicians who cannot play at their level. This is not limited to musicians who play jazz. There are other colorful adjectives that come to mind to describe such a musician which I won’t mention.
Such a musician may not be aware that they are projecting resentment towards other musicians or the band leader for not being up to the standard they have set for themselves.
The band leader and other band members may admire the performance of the “snob” musician and want to play with them again but won’t. If the “snob” musician’s attitude persists, he or she will find less opportunities over time and may not realize why.
The why is the other musicians grow uncomfortable around the “snob” musician. Their contributions to the music are being devaluated and criticized without words. It is felt.
Your job as a musician is to play to the maximum of your ability and help others sound better by supporting their contribution (musical communication). It is a group effort. It is social! Not solitary. Be kind to the other musicians and the audience, never looking down on them.
Accept their admiration with humility and kindness.
Be “grateful” you can stand on a stage, make music, make people happy, make people dance, make people sing along while getting paid for it.
No matter how great you think you are there is always someone else who may be “greater” than you. You can be replaced. There is no other, more fitting cliche because it is true.
Sometimes artists don’t realize they themselves are the reason they are not getting more work or success. One can get wrapped up in oneself and not realize their lack of humility, kindness and gratitude.
We are sharing our talent and art to help others have some moments of joy and inspiration.
It is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Especially for your own sake and survival. Also, take the time to nurture young musicians who are starting out. Set a good example for them. They will never forget you.
Remember, you cause your own feelings and create your future.
And have fun while you are passing through!