To most of us being a musician looks like a very romantic idea indeed. When we think of musicians often glamorous visions of screaming fans, flashing lights, orchestras playing in perfect harmony, rockstars with mad sex appeal, and lavish lifestyles come to mind. But what are the true advantages and disadvantages of living day to day as a practicing musician? In this article we will discuss the various benefits and drawbacks of being a musician.
1. Playing music is soul fulfilling
Playing music is cheaper than therapy and a hell of a lot more fun. An emotional release and means of self expression like no other. Playing music can take you places in your own heart and mind that you may not have ever known were there. It can lift you up and help you escape when you're feeling blue, or give you a fun way to spread the joy when you're feeling good.
2. Sex appeal
Although this is definitely one of the worst reasons to become a musician, being a good player definitely has it's upsides when it comes to the opposite sex. Arguably musicians have more sex appeal than any other type of artist. You might be dog ugly, but if you can lay down a song and nail it for some people, odds are you'll catch someone's eye and you will not have much trouble finding a date.
3. Connecting with an audience
The feeling of connection when playing music for a receptive audience is like no other experience on earth. Having people cheer you on while you do what you love not only feels absolutely amazing, it prompts you to perform at your best and go beyond the limits of what even you thought you could do. There's no place like the stage.
4. Meeting new people
As a musician you will meet and befriend people who you may not have had anything in common with otherwise, fan and fellow musician alike. Music like other art forms can unite people from all walks of life, no matter their differences because it reaches people on an emotional level. Emotions go beyond either or not you speak the same language, have the same colored skin, or live in the same neighborhood. Everyone knows what it is to feel and as a musician you have the gift of being able to help total strangers work through and understand their own feelings and problems through your music. And one way or another, they will thank you for it.
5. A focused, active mind
Being a musician will sharpen your mind and hone your focus. The intense mental stimulation and concentration playing music requires will activate and exercise your mind. It's been scientifically proven that playing music can strengthen the brain and sharpen listening skills for picking up the minority nuances of speech and other sounds. Playing music keeps your mind strong. A strong, active mind will help you live a richer, happier, and more fulfilling life. Playing music makes you smarter!
1. Your work is subjective
One of the most difficult aspects of being a musician (or an artist of any kind for that matter) is that what makes some people love you and shout your praises from the rooftops will make others hate your filthy guts. Music, like other art forms is subject to the opinions of the people experience it. It can be tough to take when you work very hard at something and pour your heart and soul into it, only to be judged, criticized, and found lacking. If you want to be a musician, it's important to grow a thick skin and learn to take the criticism along with the praise.
There's just no getting around it. Being a musician takes hours and hours of training and practice to become proficient and years to become really good. Great musicians make it look easy, but behind the glamor and romance there are years of practice and hard work. If you want to be a good musician, it takes more than just a burning desire. You will have to take action and put in the time. But make no mistake, if you really want it bad enough, you can do anything.
As with many other art forms, writing and learning to play music takes a good deal of alone time. For some, it can be difficult to balance making time for your passion and keeping up with your friends and family. For others, this may actually be viewed as a benefit. It's not all dark disqual solitude of course. You can take lessons, play in a band, find a writing partner, or get out and play for people. But if you want to become proficient at your instrument or learn to write a good tune, you'll need to sit down and work it out on your own.
4. Lack of financial stability
More often than not, life as a professional musician is fraught with financial instability. Going back to disadvantage # 1, the problem stems from the fact that your work is subject to the opinions of others and if you think it's only about being a good player, you may be in for a rude awakening. It takes tons of promotion, hard work, people skills, and business sense to be successful as a professional musician. But there's no doubt it can be done if you play your cards right. For those of us only in it for the fun, no need to worry about this one.
5. Irregular hours
Going out and playing gigs by night, promoting by day, and long trips away from home while on tour do not needarily leave a lot of a room for a normal, stable home life. It's a far cry from the 9 to 5 many of us are accredited to. This may sound like a dream come true depending on your priorities, but for anyone hoping to have some semblance of normalcy or routine in their lives, being a musician can be a rough ride. There are a lot of ups and downs and it can tough to deal with the swings. Again if you're playing music just for fun, no need to fret about this one.
Can you think of any other advantages or disadvantages to being a musician that you think belong in the top 5? Leave a comment and tell me about it! I'd love to hear from you.