Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
Doraemon
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Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by Doraemon » Fri Mar 10, 2017 8:07 pm

Hey,

I'm 18 and going to be a Guitar Performance Major this fall at university. This is really what I want to do, yes. I've already been accepted.

I love the guitar, but my playing is really nothing special. I'm not especially talented, or a prodigy :lol:. It really is stressful for me to read players' bios, or read about competitions. What really is the point of studying music if you're just an ordinary person? What could one possibly contribute? Or the question is, what kind of role does the ordinary, working musician have in their community.

I don't want to be famous or anything, and I'm not bitter either. I felt a lot of enjoyment just learning pieces and progressing, but in the big picture everything I feel I've accomplished seems kind of meaningless. There are even guitar students in cities in my state who've won competitions and have great achievements, but I haven't really done anything. Some even have become famous. You know, they seem superhuman. Making me look like a tiny flea :oops: :oops: Yes, comparing yourself to others is bad, but when it comes to trying to be a professional musician, surely there should be some standard of ability first? I don't know.

I know the quote "Don't study music unless you can't imagine doing anything else." Of course I always thought this applied to me; I didn't want to do anything else. But, what's the use of studying music as an ordinary person at a not-really-special university? In terms of playing ability, won't I just end up another uninspired-sounding, "cookie-cutter" type player, the kind who gets criticized so much? How about a revised quote: "Don't study music unless you're actually super talented and extraordinary. Otherwise, just do it as a hobby." It sounds so depressing though.

Thoughts?

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eno
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by eno » Fri Mar 10, 2017 10:12 pm

If you love music and love playing, if you appreciate the beauty of music and enjoy it then you already have a talent. When you play and you enjoy what you play you create beauty, it does not matter whether anyone else listens or enjoys your playing or not, neither whether you are better or worse than any other player. But you also need to make a living. If you love music strong enough you may want to make it your profession but then there are two main venues - to be a teacher or to be a performer. Then if you want to be a performer and make a descent living on concerts then yes, you need an extraordinary talent, you need to be a competition winner and it's going to be a very hard job involving intense practice and a lot of travel. All of that is not at all required if you choose to be a teacher and you don't need to worry about winning competitions and being an outstanding performer. I actually don't know what I'm talking about :) because I'm neither a performer nor a teacher, I've been a hobbyist player for all my life and made my living in engineering, and I do not regret that choice. But I've heard from many guitar teachers that they enjoy teaching and are able to make a descent living from it.
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celestemcc
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by celestemcc » Fri Mar 10, 2017 10:46 pm

Do it! You don't yet know your potential. There may be a real musician in you that just has to be brought out. And there's more than technical facility to musicianship.
You'll learn a lot because you'll learn to think and see the world differently. Will it land you a job? Maybe not, frankly. You may well have to simply teach. You can definitely play professionally, solo and ensembles, without being World Famous, but you won't be rich. And remember often even those super-talented types don't "make it" in the world-level performance circuit.

It's true, that to be a musician or actor, you do it because there's nothing else you CAN do. If you would honestly be happier doing something else, then yes, study something else. You can still study and be a damn good guitarist and musician! But if it's that must-do thing, then do it, because what you will regret is never having tried. I got my first music degree in 1979. I've been a musician and a professional actor: quite talented but never brilliant at either, and have also worked a "real" job, but have always been drawn back to music because I just have to. I don't regret having studied, because my life is so much the richer from my artistic pursuits. It's happier. It's worth it. To me.

Find out if it's worth it to you. (And if it's not, that is perfectly OK too!)
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David Norton
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by David Norton » Fri Mar 10, 2017 10:54 pm

It seems like this is the main point of your post:
Doraemon wrote: What really is the point of studying music if you're just an ordinary person? What could one possibly contribute? Or the question is, what kind of role does the ordinary, working musician have in their community.
In the Grand Scheme, not a damn thing. If you were going to be A Big Famous Legendary Player, you'd already know it. And there's nothing which you can play which has not already been done better, faster, cleaner by somebody else. You seem to be well aware of these bits already.

So instead, you play for your own enjoyment. Learn what you wish. Leaning music helps develop memory, eye-hand coordination, math skills, social skills if you play chamber music. You learn about history if you dig into it, and you learn about cultures and what makes Spanish music different from French, or Brazilian. So there's tremendous non-financial benefits from playing an instrument well.

As for making a career of it? Only you can decide that. I've done Human Resources management as my professional career. I think I have made about $100 in this whole decade from "playing music", and spent many times over that sum in music and strings and recordings. Others on this forum are or have been doctors, chefs, librarians, engineers, chemists, high school teachers, sociologists, accountants, clergy, and pretty much every other profession known.

Best wishes on your life's journey!
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soltirefa
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by soltirefa » Fri Mar 10, 2017 10:58 pm

to the OP. You are a really good writer (especially for only 18 years old). Study and play the guitar because it makes you happy. There are actually advantages to being an amateur.

Jeffrey Armbruster
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Fri Mar 10, 2017 11:15 pm

"I'm 18 and going to be a Guitar Performance Major this fall at university. This is really what I want to do, yes. I've already been accepted."

There are three pieces of information in the above that suggest that your self-assessment in the rest of your post may be...mistaken. You're 18, so there's a ton of development yet to happen for you. You've been accepted in a program, so others in a position of judgement think that you're capable, at least. And this is, yes, what you really want to do.

You write that you know comparing yourself to others is a bad thing, but then you proceed to completely undermine your sense of self worth by doing just that. Who knows what kind of musician you may become? Actually, it's hard to know what kind of musician you are right now; the University seems to think that you're fine. Re-focusing on the joy and satisfaction that playing brings will nurture that development; what you're doing now ("tiny flea") is going to ruin your playing. I mean, it's good to have perspective, but there is a huge area between being Julian Bream and a cookie cutter nobody. Who knows, maybe you'll get into Latin or African or Lithuanian rhythms and styles. Remember, a "standard of ability" doesn't "come first" for anyone. It develops. You may be looking at others and think that they just 'had it' to begin with. I wonder if they look at you and think the same thing.

There are a thousand times more young people who want to be rock and rollers. You will certainly not be cookie cutter compared to them--impossible, because the music that you're playing is just not on the cultural radar. Think of this as a good thing. In any sizable group, how many will play classical guitar? while half will play rock or folk. Your playing will amaze and delight these same people because most of them can play the old hat standard rock repertoire and be bored by it as they age.
Last edited by Jeffrey Armbruster on Sat Mar 11, 2017 12:29 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Kjetil Heggelund
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by Kjetil Heggelund » Fri Mar 10, 2017 11:39 pm

Reading your first post made me think "ALRIGHT". You have potential and will progress! The result of studying :)
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khayes
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by khayes » Sat Mar 11, 2017 12:10 am

Hi Doraemon - check your inbox for a PM
Ken

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AndreiKrylov
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by AndreiKrylov » Sat Mar 11, 2017 1:14 am

posted by mistake. sorry
I'd better speak by music...Please listen my guitar on most popular music streaming services on WWW. Thanks!

Robin
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by Robin » Sat Mar 11, 2017 2:51 am

AndreiKrylov wrote: All those competitions etc are not about music at all. It is all just another sport.
Absolutely. Every profession has it's ladder to the top. Those who are so driven will do what they can to climb as high as possible. Not everyone can or should be on the top of that ladder. Mere humans can and do have satisfying careers in music that are just as legitimate at those on the top. They are teachers in private studios, schools, music therapists, church musicians, local performing artists, work in music business, own music businesses, work in technology and recording, become luthiers, composers, do guitar repair...can you think of more? As a musician, you will need to develop an eye for untapped potential and be willing get out of your comfort zone. It is a difficult career. It isn't about the glamour or being the best. It's about getting out of bed each morning and having the courage to continue on your chosen path. It is tough. But if that is what you want from life, don't settle for anything less. Don't succumb to your fears. Maintain an open mind and open heart to embrace all that a day can bring.

One of my professors directed me to the book "The Art of Virtuosity" by guitarist, Phillip Hii. This book has much to say about becoming an artist.

You've been accepted into a degree program. What an opportunity! You will develop and become so much more as you go through the program! Strap yourself in and enjoy the ride!

Best,

Robin
So much music, so little time.

Doraemon
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by Doraemon » Sat Mar 11, 2017 3:15 am

AndreiKrylov wrote:posted by mistake. sorry
I already saw you had a well-written response posted, why did you delete it? :?: :?: :?: Very strange!

a human
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by a human » Sat Mar 11, 2017 3:48 am

In any course of study, I would add that you want to do what you love, one day at a time. It is the journey that is important. The choice you make at 18 may sustain you forever, or you may decide to make a new choice down the road. Each choice opens a new door, and leads to the next one. The secret to being a happy adult is to be flexible and true to yourself. Money and conventionally are over rated, and you can make career changes and modifications your whole life. Do not tie your spirit down, but encourage it to bloom. All this from an old lady who followed many dreams, but was a little too practical. I wish you the best.
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Salvador
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by Salvador » Sat Mar 11, 2017 4:48 am

Just continue to practice, make plucking or fingerpicking as your bestfriend. Those young guitarist who are very good at their age, they practice scales. Scales is the key. I watch Manuel Barrueco's masterclass and other known classical guitarist on youtube, they always ask the students if they practice scales and what exercises they do.

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lucy
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by lucy » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:00 am

Absolutely. Follow your heart. If you don't, you'll always regret not having tried.

And beware the pessimists (who never admit they are)! Standard conversation:

Aspiring musician: I really think I can do this
Pessimist: Yeah, but very few people actually manage it and when it comes to making money...
Aspiring musician: Oh, you're just being a pessimist
Pessimist: No I'm not, I'm being realistic
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. Theodore Roosevelt

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AndreiKrylov
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by AndreiKrylov » Sat Mar 11, 2017 8:35 pm

Doraemon wrote:
AndreiKrylov wrote:posted by mistake. sorry
I already saw you had a well-written response posted, why did you delete it? :?: :?: :?: Very strange!
Thanks!
because it is completely irrelevant here.
because my understanding and approach were and are very different and thus not applicable... I never felt myself as you... I always felt that I have a LOT to say and share by music and poetry and though yes, I always have to learn some new technical skills to say what I could say by music, but all those things are already in me...
That is why my experience seems irrelevant here.
Good luck!
Last edited by AndreiKrylov on Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I'd better speak by music...Please listen my guitar on most popular music streaming services on WWW. Thanks!

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