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Am i a Musician?

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Am I a musician? I don’t read music but I know my way round the neck, I play in two gigging bands but also work full time, does this mean I am a part time musician? When footballers work and are also paid to play they are described as semi-pro? How do you describe your status?

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You're definitely a musician. My definition of a musician is wide and all-encompassing. If you picked up a kazoo and tootled the national anthem on it for a laugh, I'd probably say you weren't a musician though.

I once answered the same question in the same manner on a different forum (acoustic guitar players) and got absolutely savaged... funny really!

For myself, I'd say I've gone full circle... I used to be a committed semi-pro and nearly gave up the day job. Now I feel like a beginner again.

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If you can make music whether that's within a band or solo you are a musician in my book.

The Pro, Semi-Pro or Amatuer thing is a different arguement for me. All 3 of them are still musicians at different level of commitment.

A Pro musician to me is someone making their full time living at it.

Semi-Pro is doing it part time whether that's down the local pub every weekend or occasional theatre gig but its not your full time job.

Amatuer is someone still learning the instrument basics maybe in their first band. Don't know where you draw the line but at this stage its more a hobby than a money earner.

Sure we've had this debate before tho

Dave

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I've made an obscene fortune as a professional fat string pilot.  They say I'm crazy but I have a good time

Life's Been Good To Me So Far

Edited by fleabag
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I class myself as a semi pro musician. My logic behind this is I have a day job still but every week (mostly weekends) I am playing three or four gigs, I am getting paid for these gigs, I am booked by establishments or members of the public be it weddings, parties, events, clubs etc. and are paying me for this service. I have done 118 gigs this year and have been paid but not enough to support me fully and give up the day job. I consider this semi pro.

Edited by Linus27
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I have few interests and I'm not passionate over any of them, I just do it for self enjoyment. I have never considered myself to be a musician, there are styles of music I can't stand and have no interest in what they are about. I don't listen to music on the radio as they play too much of what I don't like. I only have a small (dated) cd collection, most of which are just digital replacements of my old vinyl albums. Was never into the head banging rock scene, everyone's 'standards' were not mine although I played them after listening to them. I have managed to get by for nearly 50 years, (still got my '64 EB3 that was 5 years old when I bought it) playing mostly what I like playing, and still make a few bob doing it. I like living in the past*.

* Along with most of Jethro Tull.

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Musician is a state of mind. I have a full-time job and a family but a huge part of my identiy is linked to me playing music. I've played on a couple of albums and gigged a fair amount, but never actually made any sort of living from it (very, very far from it, if I factor in the costs of my equipment, renting rehearsal spaces and other various random expenses), but I still identify strongly as a musician. It's all about passion, I think.

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The wise Mr Flowers comes to mind

"I've got ham but I'm not a hamster". Or was it

"I've got a badge but I'm not a badger"?

Owning a car alone doesn't make you a driver. The moment you drive the car however....

Edited by oldslapper
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2 hours ago, oldslapper said:

The wise Mr Flowers comes to mind

"I've got ham but I'm not a hamster". Or was it

"I've got a badge but I'm not a badger"?

Owning a car alone doesn't make you a driver. The moment you drive the car however....

Thats the thing though, being capable of holding a steering wheel and pressing the accelerator pedal does not necessarily make ou a driver.  Being able to pick up a guitar and make it play a note does not make you a musician.

IMO you are a musician if you fulfil some basic competencies.  The competencies differ depending n your chosen instrument, but in general for bass

You must be able to play rhythmically with a drummer.

For simple songs you can listen to a song and play something that sounds the same, ie get the right notes, in the right order, at the right time without someone showing you how to play this.

Given a chord progression and a drum beat you can make up a bass line of some sort that fits both, even t its all roots.

Being capable of more than tis makes you a better musician.  Knowing the names of notes  on a fretboard is an helpful, but only to communicate with other musicians..

 

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A musician, yes. Everything else is just detail. 

 

Professional, semi professional, amateur, talented, journeyman, good, bad, trainee, experienced, retired, Jazz, studio, session, classical etc etc. 

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I'm not sure that earning a living from playing an instrument makes you a "proper" musician.  My wife has a music degree and plays first oboe in our local orchestra.  She, along with the other members, can sight read a score and perform to a high standard.  However, the orchestra is a voluntary thing and the members even have to pay an annual subscription to belong to it.  They are all fine musicians but do not make their livings from it.  One or two teach music but the rest have every day jobs.  The orchestra gives three concerts a year and has weekly rehearsals under the watchful eye of visiting conductors (who are paid expenses).  I think there will be many accomplished players who do not earn their livings from music, or even supplement their income from it, but when they pick up their instruments - they are musicians!

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14 minutes ago, LeftyP said:

I'm not sure that earning a living from playing an instrument makes you a "proper" musician.  My wife has a music degree and plays first oboe in our local orchestra.  She, along with the other members, can sight read a score and perform to a high standard.  However, the orchestra is a voluntary thing and the members even have to pay an annual subscription to belong to it.  They are all fine musicians but do not make their livings from it.  One or two teach music but the rest have every day jobs.  The orchestra gives three concerts a year and has weekly rehearsals under the watchful eye of visiting conductors (who are paid expenses).  I think there will be many accomplished players who do not earn their livings from music, or even supplement their income from it, but when they pick up their instruments - they are musicians!

She is still a musician tho. The level of musician is different for everyone.

IMO She is more an amatuer musician if she isn't making a living from it.

In simple terms and only my own opinion on it.

Pro musician - main income from playing.

Semi-Pro musician - has a full time job and earns money from playing at weekends or part time.

Amatuer musician - someone that plays for nothing or as a non-paying hobby. 

There will always be the people who are excellent musicians and like your wife can sight read and has the qualifications but its more a hobby.

Then you have people who earn a living (Pro) but can't read a note and have never had any proper training. If they are earning their main income as a musician then i'd say its their profession. 

I try to keep it a quite simple definition for myself. I class myself as semi-pro as i earn money but not my main income. 

Dave

 

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depends on the context:

if somebody is asking about my profession then I am not a musician (I even winced when ticking the "semi-professional" box when insuring one of my basses a few weeks ago, knowing that this covers anybody who gets paid anything at all for gigs)

But if somebody watching me play asked "who is that musician?" they would be completely correct

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On ‎15‎/‎11‎/‎2018 at 18:19, dmccombe7 said:

If you can make music whether that's within a band or solo you are a musician in my book.

The Pro, Semi-Pro or Amatuer thing is a different arguement for me. All 3 of them are still musicians at different level of commitment.

 

Splitting hairs I know, but I don't think it's necessarily an issue of commitment. I'm extremely committed to what I do but because I write and perform my own material, I, like many others in the same boat, find it difficult to earn anything remotely resembling a full-time wage, particularly in this day and age. I have a full-time job because I have to in order to pay the bills, but I'd much prefer to do my music full-time.

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1 hour ago, 4000 said:

Splitting hairs I know, but I don't think it's necessarily an issue of commitment. I'm extremely committed to what I do but because I write and perform my own material, I, like many others in the same boat, find it difficult to earn anything remotely resembling a full-time wage, particularly in this day and age. I have a full-time job because I have to in order to pay the bills, but I'd much prefer to do my music full-time.

Not sure we are talking about the same meaning on "level of commitment" and that's maybe down to my poor grammar.

Your main commitment is putting a roof over your head with a full time job and i believe that is more important especially if you have a family

Had you been able to commit to being a full time bass player then you would in fact become a Pro player (IMO). At the moment you are committed to being Semi-Pro due to the fact its obviously very difficult to make a full time living doing what you do within your own style or brand of music. You are fully comitted within your own boundaries or the boundaries that surround your particular style or niche in the market place. If you wanted to become a full time bassist it might mean playing a different style to make money. Many people don't want to sacrifice their musical preferences for the sake of earning money. (myself included)

Some guys are earning a living from playing in wedding / function bands. I know quite a few and i've been asked to do it myself but its not for me. Many find it boring and a bit of a chore but its how they make a living and they are fully committed to doing it.

Many session bassists have to play whatever music they can to make a wage from it. 

I think from what you mention is that yes you are fully committed to what you do in music but that particular style of music or performance doesn't lend itself to making big money.

Its a bit like rock covers bands. They'll be lucky to make £200-£300 / gig divided between 4 or 5 members. A good wedding band will be earning Upwards of £2-£3k /gig.

If i try to summarise it and please be aware i have no idea what style of music you play or prefer but I would say you are fully committed to your genre of music more than committed to being a full time bassist. The more professional you want to be means more sacrifices in life. Obviously there are some lucky people in the right place at the right time too. I'm not one of those people i'm afraid.

Having re-read this i'm not sure its even helped but i'll post it anyway. Sure it will be critised or picked upon as being wrong but at least it creates discussion and that's why we are all on Basschat :D

Dave

 

Edited by dmccombe7

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I think it’s a resounding yes. Yes you are a musician. It’s all well n good if you know how to read music, totally worthless if you can’t play any of this reading of music. 

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