Whenever I give clinics, the usual questions about practicing or instrument/mouthpiece choice inevitably arise. The questions that never get asked are about the other, non-musical things that go into a successful music career – and they are numerous. This is the stuff that doesn’t get talked about much in music classes, and comprises the vast majority of what I do on a daily basis. Recently, while talking to class of collegiate trumpet players, the professor (who is also one of my former teachers and knows me pretty well) asked me to tell the students how many companies I run. Here it goes (and I’ll try to keep it brief):
What is winning, and how do I get it? The most appreciated parts of winning tend to be the beginning inspiration and the prize at the end, but what do you call all the stuff that make up the middle? In the end it tends to be all those middle parts which define winning more than the prize. The Denis Wick Artist and Ambassador groups are made up of professional musicians who have all experienced all the glory and humiliation that winning has to offer. Here is some great advice from Aaron Tindall on how to navigate your road to winning.
My long-suffering wife said, “You’re just never satisfied!”. Many a true word is spoken in exasperation. I had tentatively suggested, in about 1969, that somebody ought to design mutes that actually played in tune and worked in every register. We had been recording film music with Bernard Herrmann, who had helped to make all those Hitchcock films such a success. He was contemptuous of the old fibre mutes that I and my LSO trombone section were using. He called them "psychological mutes” and we knew what he meant. Our trumpet colleagues were using a famous US make but they always played slightly sharp with a very tinny sound and we did not blend at all. I had found a newer American trombone mute since then, thinking that it would solve our problems. Great sound! Unfortunately, they were just too big to handle easily and on one (for me) memorable occasion refused to come out of the bell of my trombone, then finally slipped from my fingers with a…
I had always believed that I had a well-gauged sense of the risks associated with leaving my instrument unguarded in a publically accessible place. Frankly it’s a bad idea and I try to avoid doing so at all costs.
Congratulations. You just earned a degree in music. You and thousands of other qualified graduates are eager to enter the workforce when you suddenly realize that your degree isn’t your passport to employment. So, what are you going to do all summer? Then, after that, what are you going to do all year? You’ve got six months before that first student loan payment arrives…
Denis Wick Artist, Buddy Deshler, can definitely be described as a quickly rising star in the trumpet world. Find out some tips and advice on gear a career from Buddy's life experience, in this interview with Denis Wick Artist Manager, Mary Galime.
In order to find your own path, looking over the maps and roads that were created by those who went before us is a huge help. Matthew Hartnett knows what it is like to start with nothing and make something great. In addition to that he has mentored a lot of up and coming musicians to find the same success he has found. This week we want to highlight Matt's achievements by sharing this recent article about him in the Houston Voyage (you can read the full article here).
Something I consider one of my biggest or at least most influential failures is something most people probably wouldn’t even think of as a failure. My rookie year of drum corps, I joined mid-season and hung on by the skin of my teeth; people I still know from that year say they don’t even remember it but from my perspective it was the first time I felt like I couldn’t catch up and achieve at a high enough level no matter what I did. My second year I came back and was infinitely better, pushed myself harder than I ever had before for anything, and the group did worse taking 13th place which is one spot out of finals. In real terms it was still a great achievement, but I was crushed because I had put in my best effort only to find out I wasn’t good enough for what I wanted.
Sometimes the line between an epic win and epic fail is nearly invisible. Here is Jason Klobnak's epic tale of the best moment of his life. In July of 2001 I was on tour with our university’s Jazz I in Europe. We were playing in Paris, London, Manchester, Belgium, and at the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Hague over the span of almost 2 weeks. On one of the last nights of performing at the North Sea Jazz Festival I had a solo that at the time seemed to come from some other place. The kind you hear others talking about that the creative was so overtaking that it seemed like I was along for the ride. The audience went nuts. As a performer, there’s probably no greater high than moments like those.
Adam Savage of the Mythbusters has a phrase-turned-mantra, "Failure is always an option." It means that if you set out to do something and try as hard as you can, you will learn so much along the way that the original goal doesn't even matter. My professional career is still a toddler, turning five years old this May, and I've been incredibly lucky during that short amount of time. That said, there's plenty I've set out to do that didn't pan out. I've taken auditions for military bands, for Cirque du Soleil (twice), for brass quintets, and I've won exactly zero of them. I've had conversations with nationally televised late night and Sunday morning news shows, and exactly zero of those have come through.
Reevaluate the way you listen to music. It may be that you are used to being passively entertained when you put on a CD or go to a concert. There is nothing wrong with that, but as you prepare to become a professional musician (and that includes teaching music as well as performing it), you must be able to generate expressive energy that holds the attention of your audience.
Christopher Bill is one of Denis Wick's newest additions to the Denis Wick Artist group. To say Chris is talented at the trombone and a great performer would be just a small portion of what he has actually mastered. Get a peek into everything Chris does and his advice for your future career in this week's Buzz post.
Choosing a university to attend for your undergraduate education is a big decision. In selecting a school, you are investing not just money but invaluable time during a pivotal point in your life. The people with whom you spend the most time (both faculty and students) will most directly shape your university experience, so you should start by considering those with whom you will have the most contact time and work outward from there: primary professor, applied studio members, other music faculty (ensemble directors, academic faculty, other instrumental faculty), other music students, and finally non-music faculty and students.
Traditional music performance jobs are slowly disappearing, and the way in which we got those jobs is quickly changing. What is the job outlook like for the future professional musician? Millennials are developing a pretty good idea. In these interviews Paul The Trombonist and Aaron Janik discusses how his vision changed from studying trombone as a profession, to making a profession of it.
How do you define “winning”? That's a tough call, and can vary a lot from person to person. When it comes to practicing, I personally define winning as accomplishing my goals for that session. Set big goals, like a recital, concert, recording project, or even just learning a new piece. Once you have a big goal, set a series of smaller goals that you will lead you the big goal. Then, make sure that you are always setting little goals for your practice sessions that line up with that path. Be sure to make these goals realistic for the time you have to work, but still challenging enough to keep you engaged. Making the goals too ambitious could cause problems. If you are not able achieve the small goals, it is easy to become frustrated and which may cause you to give up. But, by continuing to reach these little achievable goals, you will eventually reach the big goal. As long as you are improving and moving forward, you are…
What is winning, and how do I get it? The most appreciated parts of winning tend to be the beginning inspiration and the prize at the end, but what do you call all the stuff that make up the middle? In the end it tends to be all those middle parts which define winning more than the prize. The Denis Wick Artist and Ambassador groups are made up of professional musicians who have all experienced all the glory and humiliation that winning has to offer.