orville johnson is a friend of mine from seattle. he is a great guitarist singer and songwriter. he was asked to speak at career day at a local middle school. orville was pleasantly surprised by the experience and as he told me about it, we agreed it would be cool to write a little piece about it for folktronics.
Career Day at Meadowdale Middle School
My friend Bruce Laven invited me to come to speak at Career Day at Meadowdale Middle School in Edmonds Wa. Bruce is the band director and quite a good pianist. We've played many gigs together. He wanted me to address the life of a professional musician and speak to the kids about the ups and downs, ins and outs, pros and cons, and all that. It was pretty cool even though i did have to show up at 7AM.
Their questions were generally thoughtful though I did get the "have you played with famous people" and " have you been on TV" kind of stuff mixed in. i played them a couple of tunes as well as fielding questions. i was surprised at how many students were considering music as a career. I spoke to three sessions of about 25 kids each and they were not all band or music students. Any student was free to come. i'd say two thirds of those who came (by show of hands) were interested in pursuing music.
One young man told me he was a singer and asked what advice could I give him about working with a band. I told him he should learn a musical instrument and some music theory besides developing his voice. In working with a band, i said, you'll get much more respect from the other musicians if you can speak some of the language of music and not just be one of those singers that doesn't know when to come in or what a bridge or a middle eight is. He listened well and when that session finished he came up and shook my hand and introduced himself properly. i was impressed with his sincerity and thought this cat might actually get somewhere.
Another thing I told them in regard to music as a career is that, even though I do it as my career, I didn't come to it with that in mind. I consider it a calling, more like a priesthood than a job. I do it because I need to do it and only do it as my job because I couldn't stand the thought of spending many hours a day doing something else for money and, Lord knows, we all gots to make a little money somehow to keep our world spinning. I told them if your goal is money making then you'd probably be better off going to law school. In the music biz there's no promotion schedule or pension benefits and you have to make your own way but, for some people, that's the best way to live. It has been for me.
PS I got an envelope today in the mail with letters of appreciation from some of the students. One told me I was "fanomenal" (his spelling), one young lady said she enjoyed my performance even though she doesn't particularly care for the style of music I play (thanx a lot! :) and another said she likes doing things for herself and when people try to take over her life she gets angry. I understand that.