Just Get it Done

Recently, I attended a concert by the Calgary Jazz Orchestra. It was a fabulous concert and featured some new works. Afterwards, I had a great chat with one of the composer-arrangers, CJO director Johnny Summers.

One of the things that came up in our chat was the difference between a hobbyist and a professional musician. Well, there's the obvious difference in that a professional artist pays the bills with his or her creative pursuits, whereas a hobbyist doesn't.

One difference that we spoke of was the "Just get it done" work ethic. Hobbyists, generally speaking, take their time to learn their skills or a piece. There's no looming deadline for getting that song done.

For pros and semi-pros, time is usually limited. That gig has a fixed date. Ditto with ensemble rehearsals and movie premieres. The band doesn't have the time to wait for you to finish composing a piece. They need enough time to learn the music before the performance. The movie director isn't going to wait patiently for his movie score from you. The audience doesn't care if you spent months searching for inspiration to write a piece they paid to hear.

The Runaway Five - All Ages Show

Once a music student makes that switch from hobbyist to amateur musician, they start to experience this to some degree. The audience doesn't care if you had a lot of homework the week before, they expect you to play that Beethoven Sonatina to the best of your ability. The examiner doesn't care how much you hate the e-flat minor melodic scale, if he or she asked you to play it for the exam, you need to play it.

So all that fighting with your parents (or yourself) to practice your instrument? A pointless waste of energy. In reality, no one cares about the excuses. It sounds callous and mean, doesn't it? But it's the truth.

Just get your work done to the best of your ability and strive to make next time better. If you are preparing for an exam, talent show or competition, then you know that takes more time and effort on your part if you want to succeed.

Your parents and teachers can only help you so far. It really comes down to you. Do yourself a favour, save yourself some time and tears - and just get it done - whether it's practicing music or your homework, your chores or [insert blank here].