Love What You Do And Always Play Your Best

Love What You Do

If you play music, it may seem redundant to say love what you do, but it's the most important part of being a musician. It's also as important to love it enough to stop doing it when that love wanes. I've known enough other musicians in my career that kept playing long after they got tired of it because they felt trapped in some way. Trapped because they didn't know what else to do, or because they didn't want to look like a quitter, or because their ego wouldn't let them stop, even when their musical abilities were far past their prime.

Always Play Your Best

Being a musician is never easy. There are better and easier ways to achieve money and fame, so their has to be something more to keep you doing it night after night. I've been playing gigs since I was 15, which is nearly 50 years ago (yeah, I'm that old). For me, it's the love of playing music and communicating with people that keeps me going. 

I recently did a string of 4 dates in a row. My wife was along for the trip and 2 of the dates were full houses, while 1 had only 7 people. She remarked later how pleased she was that I gave the same performance, the same 100% for the 7 people that I had for the other dates. My response was, “How could I not?” 

I'm a professional. I love what I do. I can't give any less than my best every time, whether it's 1 person, 10, 100, 1,000—I always owe them my best. It would be easy to have a small crowd and decide to take it easy, but that not only cheats the people who paid to hear me, it cheats myself and all the hard work I've put in over the years.

The interesting thing is, that from the 7 people who attended, I have 4 other possible bookings! Maybe if I had slacked off that night, I wouldn't have those possibilities.

Percussionist under glass: 110F/43C in the hot summer sun in a 
noisy ferry terminal. Not ideal, but still giving 110%.

Being and Staying Professional

It's important to always be professional. There are enough horror stories out there of musicians acting like jerks. Don't be one of them. Be professional and take care of business:

Be on time
Know your music
Stay sober/straight enough to play well

Sometimes things don't always turn out the way you want them to, or expect them to. Don't pull any sort of diva attitude because something isn't the way you want it. I've showed up at venues that weren't quite what or how I was told they were: no stage, too small a stage, 2nd floor with no elevator, booked to open for a metal band, rain outdoors, sun outdoors with no shade, rental gear not as requested, and on and on. Rather than pull some sort of attitude that would get nothing sorted out, and only anger the people at the venue, I always try to find the best workable solution. Then I give 110%, because I love what I do.

Some of the best advice I've ever been given is, make the best of every situation. That needs repeating: make the best of every situation. If you do this, you will make it through the gig, the venue will be happy, and your audience will be happy. 

~ MB

Percussion Deconstruction™


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