Pretty much anybody who considers her/himself an artist has been asked to do pro bono work by a friend or family member, another artist, or somebody representing a business or larger production. The act of asking for free art isn’t what’s wrong here–there are scenarios in which this is perfectly appropriate–the problem is when there is a budget but art isn’t accounted for, even when deemed necessary to the success of the production. Event organizers need to understand that if they require professional art for their event (off of which they intend to profit), the artist needs to be paid.
I never really understood the title of this tune until last weekend. I made my first trip to the city where this music all began, and got to experience the city as a performer. To say that it changed the way I look at things would be an understatement. Not just the way I view the city, but also the way I see the black/white line in jazz, the aftermath of Katrina, the importance of this city and the people who live in it. Continue reading
Next month, I will graduate from the U of MN with a Masters degree in trumpet performance. My studies in my Masters program have been primarily in the classical trumpet field, though I did serve as the jazz theory TA for a semester, and have taken jazz comp lessons for three semesters (I have a BA in Jazz Studies). So when I say “If I were a classical musician….” I mean to say that I do not identify as a classical musician because the majority of the playing I do professionally is in a jazz setting.
So…If I were a classical musician, I would be treating my art as if I were a jazz musician. Jazz musicians are self-made performers. They grind it out searching for clubs that will have their music and pay them a little money to play it. When they’re not playing a gig, they’re likely practicing, transcribing, rehearsing or blogging about their art. They are visible, and they treat themselves sort of the same way a rock band might. You promote your music, play in clubs, and try and build a fan base. Really, jazz musicians look at themselves as independent musicians. Period. Not “jazz musicians,” just “musicians.” This at least does away with all the recent “jazz is dead” talk, and allows you to simply function as someone who makes good music. If you make good music, and you believe people will enjoy it, then who cares what it is called?
So why are classical musicians not acting this way? Continue reading
A big reason why I learned how to transcribe is so that I can write out charts for myself, and other musicians I’m playing with. It seems like there’s always new repertoire for everyone to learn, members to add/replace or a sub to train, and the reality is that not everybody does their homework. There’s not always time, and you don’t always have the $$ to pay somebody who’s willing or able to put in the work and accurately learn/memorize a part.