How to be a musician

I received a lovely handwritten note today. In one part of it, the author thanked me for teaching him how to be a musician. It was nice of him to say so, but I really don’t remember doing it. Perhaps there are some unwritten rules that I passed on unknowingly. So here’s an attempt to write them down.

  • Learn how to play your instrument (but that’s only a small part of it)
  • Respect everyone else who plays an instrument, no matter to what standard.
  • Be honest and up front with your bandmates.
  • Respect any opportunity you get to make your band tighter.
  • Even though people may think our jobs are fun and even trivial, be professional.
  • Play each gig to the best of your ability. Have pride in it.
  • Respect the audience, even if they’re less than respectful to you.
  • When watching other musicians, be generous with your applause and feedback.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Give as much to an audience of 6 as you would to 60,000 (Thanks Paddy Cullivan for this one).
  • Encourage and support younger musicians. And older ones.
  • And remember that no matter who you are, there will always be musicians who can do you things you can’t, and others who can’t do things you can. And that’s OK.