There’s an urban legend about a world class violinist named Joshua Bell who played his solo violin concert program of J.S. Bach on a 3.5 million dollar instrument in the Washington Metro at rush hour.
Riders walked past, no one “listened” except for snippets – and he earned about 32 bucks.
The writer’s slant on the story is this:
“If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?”
I disagree COMPLETELY with is idea.
Joshua Bell demonstrated an “unsuccessful gig” in the midst of his “successful gigs” and showed all musicians that presentation counts – since the music was a “constant” in the equation. Do’h!!!
- It’s NOT on the audience to learn how to be appreciative.
- It’s UP to US musicians to learn how to present ourselves properly. (Joshua of course knows how – and was doing an experiment.)
Holding the public accountable for “not noticing us” is a victim mentality, and is very disempowering for musicians.
Whether we see ourselves as concert hall worthy, restaurant gig worthy or street worthy – we will end up playing places that are in accordance with our beliefs.
We are 100% responsible for our vision of where we want to be – even if it is not yet manifest. That starts inside, not outside.
How can I say this utterly blunt stuff?
For years I saw myself as the restaurant guitar guy – which is fine, and not a criticism of anyone playing gigs like that. My self image kept me there, but I realized I wanted more.
Only when I changed the self image (not easy) to being a concert and festival player….life changed around me – as if by magic.
If I did it, you can do it too.
Let me ask you….
- Have you ever noticed GREAT musicians who seem to be unappreciated?
- Have you ever seen “bla” musicians who have GREAT performance opportunities?
To the victim this seems really unfair, as if evil is winning over good.
To the empowered musician, it makes 100% perfect sense and is totally fair.
It’s all obeying the Law of Attraction.
We all create our worlds in accordance with our beliefs.
The Empowered Take Away Idea:
Even if your music is absolutely world class…you now know, from the subway story, that the “public” needs more than your music alone.
If you want to reach your audience, then this matters too:
- How You Dress
- How Your Materials Look
- Your Punctuality
- Where You Choose To Play
- Under What Conditions You Choose To Play
I’m making a new moral of the story:
“If we do not have a moment to think about how we present ourselves and our best musical efforts, how many gig opportunities are we missing?”
I’m not posting this to add to the lump of online “how to get gigs” articles.
I am posting this because the victim mentality is poisionous to musicians, and the “take 100% responsibility” mentality is healthy, empowering and leads to greater happiness.