April 24, 2013
I’m still puzzled as to why career management courses are still missing in some of today’s most prestigious Universities. It would be a shame and huge waste of time, effort and money, to not be able to apply the skills acquired during a music education.
Many musicians make poor decisions when it comes to managing their career. In fact, many of them may not realize that they are in charge of managing themselves. Musicians that may have been guided along by parents, teachers, student advisors or friends, may not realize that they’re in charge of their own career once school’s over. Coming to this realization is thus imperative to kick-start a successful career.
Perhaps it would help musicians to view their music career as a business. A business that needs representation, a business that needs to be marketed properly, a business that needs to stay up-to-date, a business that needs to maintain professional working relationships with other professionals in the music industry.
This translates into being pro-active with job hunts and interacting in a professional manner with other persons. Being on time for rehearsals and gigs, possessing proper phone manners, handling scheduling in a professional manner, being helpful and fun to be around etc.
This is not supposed to be a how-to article on career management, this article is supposed to merely awaken those that believe that gigs will magically appear out of nowhere regardless of how they interact with their surroundings. To give you an example; we organize a lot of auditions for those interested in cruise ship work. For some reason, a large number of individuals don’t have the decency to cancel auditions if they can’t make but decide to “no show” instead. Whether you want to believe it or not, this will hurt your career.
So take a moment to reflect on how you manage your career currently and if there is room for improvement.
April 12, 2013
On a recent cruise I noticed that some of the entertainers don’t seem to apply themselves much to their performances and this may be understandable to some degree. Playing some popular requests over and over again could drive anyone nuts.
A piano/vocalist rattled down some of the songs as if the goal was to get to the end as quickly as possible. A caribbean duo barely added much interest to their keyboard sequences, and a guitar/vocalist didn’t even bother to add a proper ending to his midi sequences and just stopped the latter after he felt he the song should end there.
I absolutely understand the challenge you’re faced with when you have to perform three to four sets of 45 minutes each per night, 7 nights per week, but I believe that it could be of benefit to the musician if he or she put a bit more energy into the performances. more info
November 1, 2012
This episode is an important pre-departure talk you should listen to before you leave home to join your first ship. In this episode, I mention the travel check list which you can find here.
August 7, 2012
2. Management skills
As mentioned in Part I of this article, candidates for the musical director position need to possess skills other than the technical skills related to the music itself. A large part of the musical director’s job is dealing with people, and thus he/she needs to be a manager.
Creating a comfortable work environment is, in my opinion, one of the most important jobs of a musical director, because happy people will most likely be willing to cooperate when extra efforts are asked of them. They will accommodate their supervisor, they won’t complain about last minutes changes and they will make work much more enjoyable. more info
August 1, 2012
After you’ve been paying your dues for years as a sideman, the day may come where you are asked to assume the position of musical director. Should that happen, you will most certainly be excited at the prospect of added responsibilities and, of course, the extra couple of dollars in your paycheck. So it may seem obvious at first to accept the position and go for it, but will it be the right decision?
I personally believe that the failure of most musical directors to provide leadership, expertise and the ability to create comfortable work environments, is mainly due to the fact that they don’t ask themselves whether they can actually do it.
Am I the right person for the job? more info
July 27, 2012
Music is fun! A lot of fun. Actually, the more you learn about music the more fun it will be. And there is so much to learn, you could spend 10 lifetimes without exhausting the possibilities.
But how do you get better? How can you have more fun?
Practice! Yep, and practicing is boring you say? I don’t think practice has to be boring. I think that people need to practice practicing. Sounds complicated? Let me explain.
If you practice and you don’t improve, I agree that you won’t be asking for more. But if you know how to practice and you see results, you will definitely be asking for more. It dawned on me that I wasn’t practicing right after 20 years of, yep, practicing. more info
July 6, 2012
You may have read our article with the same title here. I realized that this is a complex topic and that a podcast episode may help to discuss this a bit more in depth. Hope you enjoy it.
July 5, 2012
Knowing how to play drums does not necessarily make you the right musician for the gig. Some drummers have amazing chops and great time, but once the band starts playing and the drummer is “facing the music,” it’s a different story.
Unfortunately, it is not enough for drummers to be able to read the chart and play “ink” like a horn player does in a horn section. Often, we have to guess what the composer wanted but failed to include in the chart.
This can be a blessing, and it can be a pain…
You may be backing up a singer or an instrumentalist who can’t understand that even though everyone has a chart, there may still be questions as to how the song is supposed to go. They may know exactly what they want but they may not be able to convey this in musical terms. Most don’t know what they want to begin with. Best-case scenario is when they know exactly what they want and know how to communicate this effectively to the drummer, and the band. (Trust me when I say that this happens only very rarely). more info
June 7, 2012
We’re often asked to provide sample charts for you to check out. There are several reasons for why we don’t like doing so. For one, we believe that a musician that has to ask for sample charts is likely not comfortable with all types of music notation, which is a problem.
Also, a sample chart or two, are not going to be indicative of all the types of charts you’re going to encounter on a ship and could thus be misleading.
All players must be able to read note-by-note music notation and rhythm section players must also be able to read chord charts.
The best advice I can give is to make sure you can read just about anything your could be asked to play, regardless of the music notation. There is not good substitute for experience when it comes to reading. It’ll make you more competent and confident.
Take the extra time to prepare yourself properly and you won’t need to see sample charts.
May 31, 2012
Most orchestra musicians on cruise ships will have to play some of the production shows or headliner shows along to click track. Some musicians that are new to this concept may feel uncomfortable with it and don’t perform well with a click. Here are several tips that may help.
A click track is just a metronome beat that changes tempos according to the various section of the chart you’re playing.
Firstly, I believe it helps to accept the click track as your “friend” as opposed to viewing it only as an unmusical, obnoxious and annoying beat. Modern productions with large casts of dancers and singers, light shows, pyrotechnics etc. often need a click track in order to coordinate the production. It also ensures a consistent rendition of each show as far as tempos. more info