By Tim Pedersen
Musicians are an interesting ilk. We spend a lifetime developing skills that are often taken for granted and, lately, financially unrewarded. However, the passion for music pushes us forward to continue the quest for improved musicality and understanding. It’s a passion seldom seen in other endeavors. In my first article for FullOnDrums I wanted to take a moment for a shout out to musicians and to remind all of us that there is something very important in what we do and that we gain something great for all the effort, dedication and passion that we put into our art. Something more important, though less tangible, than fame, fortune and security.
What is it we gain, you sarcastically scoff as people are less and less willing to pay $.99 cents for a song? We gain the opportunity to experience life in a way that is different from the masses. We are artists and that’s an enviable position. Music gives our lives meaning. Some people may ridicule us but, as I’ve seen so many times, it’s because they envy us. We enjoy a freedom that very few people have. Yes, we may trade security for passion, the predictable for the unpredictable, comfort for art but we gain self awareness, vision, the strength to choose our own path and the ability to move people emotionally.
Through my years and years of gigs (from 60,000 people to 10 people), thousands of hours of practice, teaching hundreds of bright-eyed students with unfettered desire, the writing of articles for magazines, the creation of instructional videos, writing of songs, dealing with other musicians and hundreds of recording sessions I’ve honed the journey to something I can have pride in. It’s mine. I created it. I can take full responsibility for my accomplishments and for my failures. Since I was a child I knew what I wanted to be and I became it. This story is the same, to differing degrees, to the family of musicians that take on this role every day. What a strange and wonderful life. I respect you all for the effort. Has it all been good, all been fun? No. Some has been painful and a lot of it was for naught, but that’s the way of it. It’s what we do. We’re musicians and we can say it with pride.
I want us “crazy few” to take the time to embrace the respect that we need to have for ourselves, and for each other for such an unconventional undertaking. We deserve it and sometimes we need to be reminded. It’s a great and noble thing to do. It’s art. Keep your chin up and enjoy as much of it as you can. It’s a journey that never ends. Don’t let yourself be burdened by the musicians that came to feel that they were treated unfairly. You know the ones. They feel cheated because they didn’t achieve the level of success that they felt was owed to them or didn’t get the respect they felt they deserved. Or worse, the angry musician that complains that an “inferior musician” is doing better than they are doing and because of that start to hate other musicians. Is music unfair? No. Is the business of music unfair? Of course. It’s life. But don’t let this spoil it for you.
Remember, the journey of a musician is a chosen one. Musicians play music because it’s what we are. I respect that. At any level or any style, I respect that. If you’ve got the passion you can move people. Take them away from the mundane for a moment, an hour, a day. What we do matters at any level, whether it’s for an audience of 10 or 10,000.
Anyone can play an instrument but only some of us will be musicians. Musicians for life. The wonders of playing music are unmatched. That’s a great thought to remember instead of “the music business sucks, there aren’t anymore gigs, how on earth would you want to be a musician now days, etc., etc.” You see we may not get rich with money but we are rewarded. And you never know, you might get rich.
So my friends, young and old, let’s pat each other on the back for having what it takes to continue to make music day after day and year after year. Whether they steal it or buy it people still love it. Here’s to all of us crazy musicians and welcome to my new column for FullOnDrums.