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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby timothy42b » Wed Nov 14, 2018 8:51 am

Long ago, back in the 70s before most of you were born <!> I remember a nonmusician asking me if I were a professional musician. I struggled for an answer - was he asking about my level of skill?

then he asked the follow-up question: are you a union member? Well, that one I could answer, I was (for those green sheet jobs).

He was satisfied. "then you're a professional."
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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby Bowerybum » Wed Nov 14, 2018 9:15 am

“In the days before machinery men and women who wanted to amuse themselves were compelled, in their humble way, to be artists. Now they sit still and permit professionals to entertain them by the aid of machinery. It is difficult to believe that general artistic culture can flourish in this atmosphere of passivity.”

Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception
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the legend."
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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby Ted Cox » Wed Nov 14, 2018 9:55 am

Author Steven Pressfield has written a couple of books regarding the differences between amateurs and professionals. His first book on this subject is "The War of Art". His follow-up book is "Turning Pro". To follow are some quotes from both books, which will give everyone a different perspective on how we typically think of professional and amateurs. What blocks us from "turning pro" is our own resistance.

"Grandiose fantasies are a symptom of resistance. They're the sign of an amateur. The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work. The professional concentrates on the work and allows the rewards to come or not come, whatever they like."

"Rationalization is resistance's right-hand man. Its job is to keep us from feeling the shame we would feel if we truly faced what cowards we are for not doing our work."

"The amateur does not love the game enough. If he did, he would not pursue it as a sideline, distinct from his "real" vocation. The professional loves it so much he dedicates his life to it. He commits full-time."

"All of us are pros in one area: our jobs. We show up everyday. We show up no matter what. We stay on the job all day. We are committed over the long haul. The stakes for us are high and real. We accept remuneration for our labor. We do not overidentify with our jobs. We master the technique of our jobs. We have a sense of humor about our jobs. We receive praise and blame in the real world."

"A professional does not show off."

"A professional does not hesitate to ask for help."

"The professional gives an ear to criticism, seeking to learn and grow."

"The professional cannot allow the actions of others to define his reality."

"To feel ambition and to act upon it is to embrace the unique calling of our souls. Not to act upon that ambition is to turn our backs on ourselves and on the reason for our existence."

"The amateur is an egoist. He takes the material of his personal pain and uses it to draw attention to himself. He creates a "life," a "character," a "personality."

"The habits and addictions of the amateur are conscious or unconscious self-inflicted wounds."

"Amateurs fear being excluded from the tribe."

"The amateur is a narcissist. He continuously rates himself in relation to others. He insists that others share his view."

"The amateur allows his worth and identity to be defined by others."

"Becoming himself means being different from others and thus, possibly, violating the expectations of the tribe, without whose acceptance and approval, he believes, he cannot survive."

"The culture of Twitter and Facebook is paradise for the amateur." "The amateur tweets. The pro works."

"The amateur sits on a stool, like Lana Turner at Schwab's, waiting to be discovered."

"The sure sign of an amateur is he has a million plans and they all start tomorrow."

"Fear of self-definition is what keeps an amateur and amateur."

"Here's the truth: the tribe doesn't give a ****. There is no tribe. Each individual is so caught up in his own bullshit that he doesn't have two seconds to worry about yours or mine, or to reject or diminish us because of it. Our lives are entirely up to us."

"The professional refuses to be iconized."

"Warriors fight scared. Play for tomorrow."

Blowing through these two books, those are the quotes that I had underlined - although there were plenty more. A different perspective on pro v. amateur, brought to us by Steven Pressfield - a writer, not a musician. The BEST sentence in both books comes at the end of The Art of War. Pressfield writes: "resistance is the dragon that guards the gold." Each of us must fight our very own dragon each and every day in order to recover the gold hidden within each of us.
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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby bloke » Wed Nov 14, 2018 10:06 am

Bowerybum wrote:“In the days before machinery men and women who wanted to amuse themselves were compelled, in their humble way, to be artists. Now they sit still and permit professionals to entertain them by the aid of machinery. It is difficult to believe that general artistic culture can flourish in this atmosphere of passivity.”

Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception


<SIDEBAR>

"spectator" sports - (typically) males (while fattening themselves up with concentrated carbohydrates, being generally sedentary - with occasional verbal outbursts, and with testosterone levels dropping) living vicariously through others. I'm no spectator sports historian, but I tend to suspect that an early example was the Roman Colosseum.

"professional" music - began in the courts and with the elite/wealthy, to furnish themselves with a luxury known as "hired entertainment" or (obviously: long before recordings and broadcasting were invented/developed) "background mood" (i.e. "chamber music" - much of which was not composed with the intention of it being listened to particularly intently). Mostly (outside of the wide phenomenon of recorded and broadcast music) live music remains there (i.e. a product funded/consumed by the wealthy). Many cannot afford tickets to (from styles banal to sublime) live music concerts ($45 - $2XX), and "classical/art" music concerts ticket prices - typically (in order that the least expensive of them are only $35 - $45) - are very heavily subsidized by the wealthy...including many of the wealthy who don't particularly care for "classical/art" music.

</SIDEBAR>
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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby Three Valves » Wed Nov 14, 2018 7:50 pm

Live music and/or stage performances are much more affordable than major league sporting events. Wasn’t so 20 years ago...
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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby bloke » Wed Nov 14, 2018 10:06 pm

Again, unless those stage events are popular music stars, the costs are often subsidized by wealthy people, so that the ticket prices (for "art" music concerts) are high, but not meteoric.
Then again, when popular music stars can sell out a basketball arena, ticket prices don't have to be much higher than 250 bucks for the best seats.

Ticket prices for professional spectator sporting events are very high, simply because they can be. With so many people seeking entertainment who have 7 to 30 seconds attention spans - along with a bunch of pent-up hostility…often due to work situations, professional spectator sports fit the bill perfectly.
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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby tubeast » Thu Nov 15, 2018 3:56 am

I personally do not agree with many of Mr. Pressfield´s quotes stated above.
In my opinion, the listed samples convey the idea that the status of "Amateur" in any field show traits of bad character and are, at least, a waste of time.

NO. being an amateur tubist (or an amateur ANYTHING) is NOT a waste of time.

The one that makes me smile, though, is the one concerning modern social media. True food for thought...
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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby Worth » Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:41 am

tubeast wrote:I personally do not agree with many of Mr. Pressfield´s quotes stated above.
In my opinion, the listed samples convey the idea that the status of "Amateur" in any field show traits of bad character and are, at least, a waste of time.

NO. being an amateur tubist (or an amateur ANYTHING) is NOT a waste of time.


Quite a different spin by Mr. Pressfield, almost trollish. But you know what they say.... opinions are like a******s, everyone has one
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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby Ted Cox » Thu Nov 15, 2018 8:53 am

Perhaps read one or both books before reaching a conclusion. There are other ways to view most everything.
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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby bloke » Thu Nov 15, 2018 9:57 am

tubeast wrote:I personally do not agree with many of Mr. Pressfield´s quotes stated above.
In my opinion, the listed samples convey the idea that the status of "Amateur" in any field show traits of bad character and are, at least, a waste of time.

NO. being an amateur tubist (or an amateur ANYTHING) is NOT a waste of time.

The one that makes me smile, though, is the one concerning modern social media. True food for thought...


well...
You're only published on TubeNet, and that guy is published "somewhere else"...so that guy's opinions overrule yours. :P

again:
> "professional" - for remuneration/money
> "amateur" - for the love of it


> "lacquer" - yes
> "silver" - no
> "rotary" - maybe
> "piston" - perhaps
> "Bb" - amateur
> "C" - professional
:P :lol:

:arrow: Over-defining words confuses discussions and causes communication breakdowns.

Bono is a "professional" ~and~ is a "show-off".

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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby bloke » Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:15 am

more towards the original post...

Here's a really good example (Christmas carol arrangement) of a group of musicians working "in ensemble" (together) and employing all of the things that I discussed in the original (overly-long post). Please notice that their individual (each individual's) tone-production is/are not "the most aesthetically beautiful", but the overall product (due to them doing "all of the things in bloke's post" very well) is extraordinary, and extremely pleasing to the ear. ...and I have no idea whether these people do this for money, or for the love of doing it. It's probably best - if a professional - to be an amateur.




Obviously, "time" isn't always metric, but in ensemble music, it is always "timed".
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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby bloke » Thu Nov 15, 2018 1:10 pm

"late"...
In the past - when our store was "brick-and-mortar", I was often put in a squeeze.
I would sell something to someone, and they would chat...and chat...and chat...
Several times, I would attempt to break it off, but they wouldn't pick up on the hint
(perhaps viewing that buying an item also included a certain amount of my time as well).

I learned to pass them off to Mrs. bloke, once they had consumed so much of my time that
"me arriving only about fifteen minutes before the beginning of a performance" or
"me arriving only about ten minutes prior to the beginning of a rehearsal" was defined.
I considered those to be bare-minimums, and - often - I was only meeting those
minimums.

Today, I live (rurally, in the center of a geographic triangle) about an hour from
three different cities in which I typically rehearse and perform, so I must
(rather than fifteen or twenty minutes of travel time) allow considerably
more travel time, as well as using some of these "apps" that report
traffic conditions. (Recently, for a few weeks, the inner loop freeway
in Memphis was closed for replacement of bridges. That situation
required some very creative strategies, which had to be well-thought-out
in advance.)

All of that having been said, "dependability" and "reliability" are not
synonyms for "professional", but - standing alone - they mean what they mean.
We all know people who - regularly - arrive in the nick of time, and who
continue to be hired/paid to perform - which is the definition of "professional".

mechanic - noun
bad - adjective
dependable/reliable - adjectives which can be made into nouns, by adding some version of "ity" to them
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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby Radar » Thu Nov 15, 2018 1:15 pm

(Note this post should have been above Blokes last post, I deleted it to redo it, because I thought it was too much about me)
Although I get the occasional paying gig, I consider myself a hobbyist musician or amateur. I play regularly with both amateur and pro musicians. My experience is that there are some amateurs I've played with that were every bit as proficient on their instruments as some of the pro players. I agree totally with the original post about the important aspects of playing as a pro (or a high end amateur). Timing, ability to sight read (relatively error Free), ability to play in tune, and listen and blend are all tools pros and advanced amateurs need to have in their tool kit. I do think there is one thing bloke left out regarding being an important characteristic of a pro: dependability and reliability (although not a playing characteristic). There are players in our area that are more instrumentally proficient than I am, but I've been told that I'm above some of them on call lists because the director knows if I agree to do the job I will be there well before the down beat, I'll be warmed up and in my seat prepared and ready to play, and I won't blow him off because a higher paying gig came along after I committed to his.
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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby Leland » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:11 am

Radar wrote:I do think there is one thing bloke left out regarding being an important characteristic of a pro: dependability and reliability (although not a playing characteristic). There are players in our area that are more instrumentally proficient than I am, but I've been told that I'm above some of them on call lists because the director knows if I agree to do the job I will be there well before the down beat, I'll be warmed up and in my seat prepared and ready to play, and I won't blow him off because a higher paying gig came along after I committed to his.


Yes to this. I think that dependability is at least as important as instrumental proficiency. When it comes down to it, music ensembles are still made up of people, not just instruments, and being able to work with other people pleasantly and dependably makes for a much nicer experience.

We've all been around musicians who are very good at making music and knowledgeable about their craft -- but who are just a bear to work with. Their characteristics include not showing up on time, talking too much during rehearsals, complaining about the rest of the group, talking back to the director (or, if they're the director, talking down to the group),... and then they turn around to execute the music at a positively stellar level.

I'd rather work with a pretty good player who's chill and dependable than an excellent player who's aggravating. Yeah, it's nice to end up with flawless recordings later, but I want to look forward to driving to rehearsals, too.
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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby roweenie » Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:28 am

+1, Leland...

Many years ago, as a young aspiring player, I was given these pearls by a very well-respected professional player, as to how to achieve success in the free-lance music business:

1) show up on time (meaning at least a half-hour early)

2) bring a music stand

3) keep your mouth shut

I was surprised to hear that "dexterity" and "skill" were not included (let alone "extremes of range", "ability to play multiphonics", or "know all my scales in every possible permutation"), but a short while after playing professionally (aka - my only source of income), it became painfully obvious to me why it wasn't included.

This may be a little cynical, but another wise old friend told me once, "the 'music business' is 10% music, and 90% business" - another one said, "most of the clients who will hire you, hear with their eyes".
"How many guesses......!"
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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby Lee Stofer » Mon Nov 19, 2018 9:43 am

Thank-you for a very good, thought-provoking post. We need more discussions like this. And, the post is very timely, as we approach the holiday season and lots of playing opportunities. Let's be prepared, arrive early and make the most of all our playing opportunities this season, regardless of whether it is a pay gig or not.
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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby bloke » Mon Nov 19, 2018 9:59 am

summary of my reaction to some posts:

Unhook words/characteristics such as "dependability", "attentiveness", "politeness", etc. from the word, "professional", and re-attach those words/characteristics to EVERYTHING.

That having been said, frankness communicates more clearly than euphemisms/apologetic adjectives/Newspeak/pc-speak/beating-around-the-bush, and more human beings (at least many Americans - once again, in my estimation) need to grow a reasonably thick skin and address issues, rather than defending issues.

i.e.
"bloke, Your entrance is late and your pitch is flat."
~vs.~
"bloke, I'm not immediately hearing your sound in the corporate sound, and it also doesn't seem to be resonating."

...and bloke (simply) fixing it, and not taking offense.
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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby rocksanddirt » Fri Nov 23, 2018 4:14 pm

quick random observation. I've been in some groups that spend a lot of time on tuning, and it doesn't really help as the members think of it like calibration. Once done it's correct until you turn the machine off.

Music is a form of communication and therefore takes listening and blending and all those lovely traits bloke listed up front to really have an ensemble bring the music.
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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby Alex C » Mon Nov 26, 2018 12:36 pm

To me, a professional musician can be identified by 1) showing up ahead of time, 2) present and ready to play at the requested time, 3) able to play the part as indicated on the page, 4) does not need a rehearsal to "get it down," 5) is not a distraction or a drama queen, 6) is able to greet and then bid a friendly farewell at the end of the gig.

It is surprising how many time 2-3 and 4 just don't happen. Anybody can have a bad night with one or more of these but if you see someone over and over struggling to fit a technical pattern into a measure, that's an amateur.

The gig leader has a different set of parameters.
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Re: "amateur"/"professional" - skills not often discussed (h

Postby jperry1466 » Tue Nov 27, 2018 2:38 am

bloke wrote:...frankness communicates more clearly than euphemisms/apologetic adjectives/Newspeak/pc-speak/beating-around-the-bush, and more human beings (at least many Americans - once again, in my estimation) need to grow a reasonably thick skin and address issues, rather than defending issues.
i.e.
"bloke, Your entrance is late and your pitch is flat."
~vs.~
"bloke, I'm not immediately hearing your sound in the corporate sound, and it also doesn't seem to be resonating."
...and bloke (simply) fixing it, and not taking offense.

Agreed. Criticism is just that - critical assistance and not personal attack. And besides, it takes me a lot longer to figure out what said pc-speak person just said and meant than someone saying, "hey, you're flat and coming in late". I don't mind fixing a problem that I caused and sure don't get offended by it being pointed out to me.
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