Monday, November 5, 2012

Standing out in the crowd.

The world is a pretty crowded place. Overly crowded job markets certainly isn't unique to the music community, but since that's the biz I'm trying to make it in, I can't stop thinking about how directly it affects me everyday.  There are oodles and oodles of horn players out there all hoping to score a job in the orchestral world.  At the moment (according to there are three horn positions posted in North America.

Three.  (cue dramatic womp, womp, womp)

I understand musical chairs isn't the only place auditions are listed, but the point is there aren't many.  So how are we supposed to stand out in such a crowded job market?  I'm pretty convinced that doing something different is the only way to stand out.  The world doesn't need another horn player that only plays excerpts and Mozart concertos.  I'm not suggesting it's not important and that we shouldn't be able to, but that's not the point I'm making here.

I'm proposing that all of us need to have something unique to offer.  I got to the end of my junior year of college and realized I couldn't really play anything.  The same pieces as everyone else.  What a disappointing feeling it is to realize that all those years of practice and hard work lead me to the same place that so many other classical musicians end up.  We all play the same excerpts, etudes, and solos.  

Why should anyone listen to me?

The musicians that really stand out in the crowd are the ones that are doing something different.  If you've ever seen the amazing string trio Time for Three (TF3's most recent video) you know what kind of stuff I'm talking about.  These guys formed a trio of two violins and a bass.  I'm sure it's tough to find music for that group, but these guys make it work for them.  There are a million string groups out there playing Brahms and Beethoven, but when I first heard these guys I couldn't believe how awesome it was.  Why?  

Because it was so unique!  When something is this out of the ordinary it jumps out and makes people listen.

So, I suppose the question we should ask ourselves is why are so many of us doing the same thing?  

Why should anyone listen to me play instead of someone else?  

Just to be clear, I'm not knocking excerpts or Mozart.  But I am certainly suggesting that we may not be doing ourselves any favors by only focusing on the norm.  You can still play the standards, but keep in mind there are tons of others fighting for the attention.  

I think a lot of us are afraid to be different.  Being unique tends to draw attention and that can often be scary.  But fortunately for everyone, we have nothing to loose when trying something new.  Worst case scenario you find out what doesn't work for you.  So with that in mind, we should all take a chance a try something different.  Wear something crazy, create your own ensemble, present the old classics in a new way.  Whatever.  I hope you'll take some time and really think about what I'm saying here and how this applies to you.

Do something different.  Who knows?  It might just work.

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