Once I was teaching a group of young trumpet players.
There was one girl and eight boys. And the girl had a brief solo in the upcoming concert. So I asked her to play for the rest of us.
She kind of clammed up and wanted to get out of playing it. And I was like, "What's the big deal? Play it."
And of course one of the boys said, "If she doesn't want to play it, I'll play it."
I didn't want her to just hand over her part... I wanted her to get over her nerves... whatever was causing her to not play those two measures.
She whispered, "I'm nervous. There are
And of course the boys were all within earshot and they heard her and they're looking around like, "What the heck? We're
I told her she needs to get used to playing with the boys. Because there are a lot of them and they will be with her throughout her life as a trumpet player (if she chooses to continue, and I hope she does).
I'm sure she has a several reasons for being nervous playing in front of boys, none of which I want to explore. If she wants to play she needs to deal with those emotions and find a way to get up onstage and make some music.
I can't tell you why there is only ONE girl in that section, and in many trumpet sections around the world. Is it a conspiracy? Or is there only a small, self-selecting group of girls who choose trumpet?
The ones that play do it because they love it. They love it enough to keep playing even though they don't fit in or look the same. They love it enough that they keep working even though they may not have enough women to look up to... and that is thankfully changing fast. There are a lot of great role models.
There should be no question on whether women can play. It's absurd. Of course they can.
So I was pretty riled up when someone put a sexist remark on the Trumpeters with Real Gigs page. I was winding up to think of all the cruel and unusual punishments that we can come up with for people who say stuff like that, even if they're kidding.
When I see stuff like that, it makes me wonder if everyone thinks like that. Or is it just that one person?
Anyway, I'm the kind of person who will not stop talking if something bothers me. I'll share and post and repeat and get people talking until I feel that there is nothing more to say. As one critic said, "I stir the pot."
And I was pleased at the outpouring of support from men and the honest stories from women about their experience and the overall energy that said, "No, that's not cool at all."
I needed to hear it from other people. I needed to talk about it.
I said to James (who repeated it) that sexism in the trumpet world hangs in the air like an old fart. You walk into the room and you smell something you don't like, but you can't really tell where it's coming from or point your finger on who dealt it.
Everyone's looking around innocently.
What if it's actually coming from
But in the end it doesn't matter.
You can't go through your life worried about what other people think of you.
You can't waste a minute stressing out about what other people may or may not be doing to thwart you in your journey towards being a working musician.
Because thinking and worrying about sexism puts the power in someone else's hands.
It puts your dreams and destiny in someone else's control. That's nuts!
You're the one who is in charge of your life. You are the one who creates opportunities for yourself.
Of course there are obstacles. There will be people who compete with you who may not fight fair. Other people may get hired over you for reasons that don't seem fair, but that happens.
You need to concentrate on what you can control.
- You have control over the sound that comes out of the end of your bell.
- You have control over the stories you tell yourself and others about who you are and what you do.
- You can control how you interact with other players, and the people who hire you.
- You can control your marketing and the way you build your musical business.
There will be obstacles for everyone.
There always are.
Maybe you live in a poor community and your students don't have the money for high quality instruments.
Maybe you live in an apartment and your neighbors complain about the noise you make.
Maybe you have a new baby and your practice schedule is all out of whack.
My challenge to you is to write about that obstacle. Write about what is getting in the way of your music, and explain what you have to go through to play even though you face this obstacle.
Let everyone see your struggle. When they see your struggle they will also see your passion for music and your love for the instrument.
Post it on your blog, either in written form or in a video. (And share it with us because we want to see it!)
You're not blogging like a mad man (or mad woman) to promote your music???
No worries. We have a no-nonsense course that will help you get your blog off the ground... jet-fueled by the power of your stories.