Yesterday was a funny day. It started wonderfully when my business partner Josh showed up for a meeting with homemade granola and fresh fruit. Now that’s a good partner! Josh’s mom runs Wow Catering and every once in a while I get to reap the benefits too.
After our meeting I was off to teach the last class in a series I’ve been teaching for The Right Brain Center for the Arts at Whitman Middle School. For the past eight weeks I’ve been teaching a digital music class to ten 12-year-olds. It’s been a fun class and the kids wrote some amazing music. I must say, though, that their skills with the music are much greater than the skills with lyrics. One boy wrote a song about pie, with lines like “Pie likes to be sold / you bake it in the oven / if you wait ’til it gets cold / it’ll give you less lovin'”! How cute is that??? One of the girls wrote a song called “The Wrong Guy”, where she talks about how her boyfriend was all wrong for her even though she loved him. Remember, this is a 12-year-old. I sure do love the teaching aspects of my job. Being around kids is a constant reminder of the wonders of life. Everything is new to them, which is a pretty cool way to go through life.
Then I had to hightail it down to Des Moines to play a gig at the Judson Park Retirement Community. These are the types of gigs that some musicians won’t take, but I’m happy to play them. First of all, I got to play with two of my favorite people, guitarist Jamie Baumgart and bassist Nate Omdal. Both are wonderful musicians who I play with often, and both are interesting, thoughtful people that I like to be around. The conversations ranged from music to kids, promotion, society’s views on the elderly and mutual friends. Second, we got to make around 150 seniors happy. These are some of the most appreciative crowds we play for, and they sometimes know more about the music we play than we do! Third, we were done by 7pm! But fourth, and most importantly as a working musician, between the gig and the class earlier I made enough money to pay half of this months rent. In one afternoon. If that’s what it takes to make a living as a musician, then bring it on!
If you’re looking to make a living in music, you can’t be too high-and-mighty about the gigs you take. I always remind myself that there is something to be gained and/or learned from every gig. Today I was able to make a bunch of people happy and make music with two of my friends. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that!
My friend and fellow trumpet player Thomas Marriott recently said that our job as musicians is to take gigs. Plain and simple. The more gigs you take, the more money you make. That’s the bottom line. And that’s a bottom line that I’m completely comfortable with.