Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

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

Post by Dekselsedek » Sat Mar 11, 2017 9:41 pm

Remember that fame does not add to the quality of art. Fame as a pursuit is meaningless.

I have studied classical guitar coming from a similar, "nothing special", background. I was actually severely lacking in areas such as sight reading and repertoire knowledge because I only played for four years when I got accepted at 18. It was quite hard for me being constantly judged and I had to struggle at some point not to quit. But my love for music and thirst for knowledge was fueled by meeting inspirational students and teachers from around the globe. It was a formative journey for which I am still gratefull. And I really wish you the same and more.

Nowadays I am mostly making a living as a guitar teacher and occasionally perform. I still get better at 34. My sight reading is quite good, my knowledge of music theory as well and I learned myself some piano and drums.

It is a blessing that I can make my living passing on the torch of the Classical Guitar. I do however sometimes feel the futility of making air vibrate. I mean, it's not exactly as significant as the work of a Ghandi or Einstein or what have you. But realize that 18 is young. And after pursuing this dream, you can still dream of other pursuits. And skills you acquire during your musical studies will transfer in some degree to whatever else you do.

MaritimeGuitarist
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by MaritimeGuitarist » Sun Mar 12, 2017 2:04 pm

I think one thing you have to keep in mind when you ask, "what can one possible contribute?" is the difference between a superstar and a music professional. Yes, there are those who go on to classical guitar stardom and are able to bring a level of technique and artistry to their music that few others can. It is within the realm of possibility for you to attain this level and bring something new and exciting to the instrument--provided that you are extremely dedicated. During college, I saw many guitarists (and other musicians, for that matter) start with very little and end go on the become concert performers.

That said, there is another, larger tier of professional musicians who are equally satisfied with their careers. These are the musicians that, upon graduating, go on to be respected, competent musicians within their chosen communities. As performers, they are the people who are relied on perform music at a professional level either at local concerts or as background/event musicians. When someone needs a musician for a special event, these are the people that come to mind first. They play with local symphonies, pit orchestras, weddings, recordings etc. There is always a great need for these musicians. Additionally, this class of professional musicians impact their communities by choosing to become teachers. As a teacher, the number of lives you can touch countless lives. There is something to be said about being the 'go to' guitarist in a community.

In either case, if you truly love music and the guitar, life as a musician is extremely rewarding. From the sounds of your post, it seems like you are making the right decision.

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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Sun Mar 12, 2017 5:20 pm

I think in life you either follow your heart, or you follow the money.

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Kent
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by Kent » Sun Mar 12, 2017 5:32 pm

Denian Arcoleo wrote:I think in life you either follow your heart, or you follow the money.
It's not unusual to follow you heart, and have money that follows.

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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Sun Mar 12, 2017 6:54 pm

Kent wrote: It's not unusual to follow you heart, and have money that follows.
I disagree. Whilst it is by no means unheard of, I do think it is unusual.

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kloeten
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by kloeten » Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:38 pm

We all go through these feelings in life, in music or other aspects of our lives. I have quite a decent professional career outside of music but always I have these phases where I think "what is so special about the way I work?". Nevertheless I am doing this kind of work now for more than 20 years in a very competitive environment so I must do something right. Many people will say it is this kind of self-criticism that makes professionals stand out.

Find out what makes you special.

Good luck!

CathyCate
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by CathyCate » Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:29 pm

Ordinary people do extraordinary things. These are rarely reported, designated for special awards or going viral on the internet.

Treasure your youth and the time that is hopefully on your side for making a difference in the world and the lives of those around you.

You can be an ordinary accountant, attorney, banker, car salesperson or anything else in the professional alphabet. If, however, you love making music and that is your passion you will most likely regret turning your back on the chance to live out your dream of becoming a musician.

I suggest making an appointment to talk with an advisor on campus to learn what former music students are doing. Try to visit a few music teachers, music therapists, church musicians, session players etc. on-the-job. Play some gigs (you don't need a diploma or a license first), volunteer to teach a guitar class at a community center, entertain some patients and their families at a hospital or nursing home. My hope is that you find your niche and begin to see ways to cultivate your gifts however limited they are in your own view. All the best and keep us posted on your progress!

Johnnycake
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by Johnnycake » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:51 pm

I am actually in quite a same situation.

Two years ago when I was 16, I was accepted to some kind of programme for "young talented musicians" (I still go to regular highschool but I can already do a part of my Bachelor`s degree in music).
I decided to enroll for the entrance-exam from one day to another, without even telling my parents first. I wasn`t specially talented, but I have always dreamt of a career as a musician. Surprisingly I got accepted and I`m still here, two years later.
Just recently I passed another exam. The jury gave me a very positive feedback. But that didn`t make me feel more secure and I still have many doubts about my playing and my future. I mean I`m 18, all the well-known concert performers of today were already touring the world at that age.
It`s okay for me, that I won`t be one of these "stars"...but I also can`t immagine working as a teacher in a small town for the entire rest of my life.

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Sharon Vizcaino
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by Sharon Vizcaino » Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:48 pm

Kent wrote:
Denian Arcoleo wrote:I think in life you either follow your heart, or you follow the money.
It's not unusual to follow you heart, and have money that follows.
Wish I'd known that before I went into Computer Science! In all seriousness, I think it's definitely unusual enough that most people have to make a choice.
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Doraemon
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by Doraemon » Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:56 pm

Thanks for all your responses. Hearing different perspectives is great! :) It's unusual for me to hear adults saying "Follow your dreams." :lol: Most advise me to study something else, and I get where they're coming from. I having nothing much else to say, I guess I'll just continue down the path for now and adjust course as necessary.

Andrew Pohlman
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:10 pm

I haven't read the other replies yet, but here's some factoids and stuff for you.

Rod Stewart said, "I'm not really a good musician. But people like to buy my albums." Grateful Dead record sales were limited, but their concerts always sold out. I wouldn't call them good musicians either. They all found a way to make money.

We all know that good marketing trumps good musicianship. How many lousy musicians do you know of that are famous? Ain't right, but proves you don't need to be a God to become rich and famous.

I have played all the small rock clubs in the SF Bay Area - all long gone. My entire circle of musician friends agree - your day job makes it possible to play music.

My Master Classical instructor, Ben Barron, graduated from the SF Conservatory. He tells me he is the ONLY one of his graduating class who is still doing music professionally. Teaching is his bread and butter. Another violin teacher at the same local school, Fiat Music, was teaching violin there when I was a teenager. I'm now 61. He is ... a lot older than that. Both Ben and the violin dude do it because they love it! They both make about US$40K/year from teaching in the SF Bay Area.

A jazz drummer I performed with may times, was performing 4-5 nights/week, teaching 5-6 days a week, doing studio work, composition, etc. He had to give it up because he could not support his family... I met him when we were both hired to do computer work at Chevron's data center in San Ramon, CA.

So if you want to pursue music as a career, get it into your head now that you will be very lucky to make it big. But, there is a steady supply of beginners who need competent teachers. My current job is a Nursing Educator. Teaching can be very satisfying - but the question is, is it satisfying enough for you? Is the money enough? For me, I wouldn't change a thing. I love the rock I have done and the classical I currently do. I love teaching Nursing. It's a life well spent.
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Eberhard Mueller
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by Eberhard Mueller » Wed Mar 15, 2017 3:51 am

Doraemon wrote:Hey,

...
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?
Another quote: "Studying music and playing guitar will make my old age and retirement so much richer!" This is as told to me by well educated performer, teacher and collector of guitars and early instruments. I think he was having a ball whilst his wife was making the real money! :) He did tell me that he was quite satisfied with his remuneration from teaching, 'though.

Maybe it is not a good idea to judge one's entire life potential, eventual accomplishments and happiness at age 18! As for the others you are seeing: some people are self-confident by nature, some are way less so and then there are those over-confident types, too. Whatever! Just stick to your path, one step at a time, no rushing and see where it takes you. I hope that makes sense. :D
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Jstanley01
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by Jstanley01 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:41 am

Guitar is a parlor instrument. And as such, at the very least, the instrument enables someone who can play it to bring a bit of beauty, not to mention sanity, to those intimate social situations which we frequent -- or at least, which we should seek to frequent. Like Julian Bream... https://youtu.be/0g4FrGcRAIs
Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what people do or say. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. -W.C. Fields

Joe de V
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by Joe de V » Wed Mar 15, 2017 3:58 pm

Hello Doraemon: I am a bit surprise that at age 18 you already have a not too good feeling about your ability to learn and perform in an acceptable - to you - manner in playing the CG. If you really believe that you cannot make progress in your journey as a CG player then it would be a mental handicap that you must overcome before you discover that anything is possible if you start with the right mental attitude. I have read stories about the late Andres Segovia when he first started to play the CG facing many obstacle that were overcome - like public acceptance at that early period in his life - of making a career as a CG performer.
The fact that you have being accepted as a Guitar Performance Major at a University should give you pause to think that you may have a future as a CG player. Many of us here wish that we had the opportunity when we were age 18 to be admitted to such program. Be positive of your ability to learn and progress in your studies. Ten or twenty years from now you will think back and appreciate the rewards of your studies regardless of your final destination as a CG. Good Luck and keep on your playing with a positive attitude.

Doraemon
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Re: Pressure, Discouragement and Studying Music

Post by Doraemon » Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:48 pm

Joe de V wrote:Hello Doraemon: I am a bit surprise that at age 18 you already have a not too good feeling about your ability to learn and perform in an acceptable - to you - manner in playing the CG.
Thanks, it is true. I guess I posted this in a moment of self-doubt and questioning, as tends to be the case. Thanks for your post, I appreciate it.

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