I hear us all – those of us who have decided to perform for a living – explain to audiences that we are musicians. That this is something we do for a living. Professional. The trouble is, the more I hear this, the more I have the feeling inside that something is not right. The point is, you don’t have to be a professional musician (Someone who earns money from the act of playing music) in order to be a great musician.You shouldn’t have to prove it with explanations In fact, the opposite is true: There are people working in 9 to 5 jobs all day, or farming fields from dawn to dusk, who could blow us away with their talent and feeling when they play or sing.

Up until 3 and a half years ago I had spent my life working in schools. The decision to concentrate on music was a long process – and was forced also by circumstance. I was finding myself running into the same walls whenever I had a job which demanded too much structure in my life. I had 4, 5, then 6 children to take care of, and we wanted to devote our lives to this task. So…. as time went by, I decided to settle on a way of life which put the children first.

  

At the same time, the songs were coming faster and faster. I was meeting people who were encouraging me to take a step. I started playing more and more, and from that point on, it was just a question of self-belief. Self-belief is not something which comes easy to me or others, and it’s something which I have to work on everyday, but I’m beginning to understand its importance. Our lack of it is the reason why we constantly have to explain to others that we are “musicians”, NO. If you’re good at what you do, then people will feel this fact. You won’t have to prove it with words. They’ll see you play and KNOW you are simply doing what comes naturally.

Another problem in today’s world is that we believe we can get to the top without effort. We seem to believe we have the god-given right to be heard, loved and successful. Wrong. I’m currently reading the biography of Bruce Springsteen. Amazing stuff. The years this guy practised, rehearsed, studied, devoted himself to the job before he finally gets a breakthough – someone who believes in him – are a lesson for us all, in all walks of life. He had to work hard on his material, work hard on his technique, learn how to reflect – learn how to improve – for many years. Such dedication from a man who was, quite obviously, at the top of the pile from the very beginning.

It’s about authenticity. Can I take my guitar in my hands, walk onto the stage, or into the corner of the pub, and be me? My life has to be reflected in the songs, even if the audience isn’t fully aware of the meaning of the song. It has to be felt. I can be liked, or disliked. My job is to confront he people with me and my story. And if I’m good, people will be interested. People will ask for more. And professional? That is a question others have to answer. For me, the music has more – means more – when the person performing is more than just a musician. Unless they are Bruce Springsteen!

 

 

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