James Newcomb asked a bunch of trumpet players this question:
Aside from being able to play at an acceptable level, what are some qualities that are essential in landing and keeping a gig?"
Some of the answers were all right. People recommended showing up on time, playing with passion, being reliable and dressing the part. All things that would give a good first impression and help you get another gig.
But we all got a little nervous at the number of people who still felt that if they showed up and played well, the gigs would come to them. That sounds a little like wishful thinking.
James put it this way. "The days of "let your horn do the talking" are for all intensive purposes over. The mentality you're referring to where you get a call, then play well, get along with others, clean up after yourself, and most important, play well - and that leads to more gigs is obsolete. If you're not wiling to promote the heck out of yourself, you're going to starve. And there's a right way and a wrong way to do that."
We'll be talking more about the unique challenges that trumpet players face when promoting themselves, and giving you as much guidance as we can about how to keep your schedule full. Feel free to contact us with questions, horror stories and success stories.
We want you to feel confident putting yourself out there.
Which brings me back to that thread. There was one particularly insightful response that I wanted to share with you. It is from John Daniel, the trumpet professor at Lawrence University (and who was also MY trumpet professor when I attended Lawrence... which might explain why I noticed his comment).
"Do some contracting yourself if you can, then you will KNOW. Go to a bar or restaurant, or banquet facility, try to get yourself a gig, then try to put together a musical product and band that fulfills the needs of that establishment, then try to hire players that will do what you need. Just thinking this process through, even if you don't actually do it, should tell you what you need to know."
I appreciated his advice because it involves taking matters into your own hands, meeting people, finding out what their needs are and gathering the resources at your disposal to make it happen.
In the next week we're going to invite John to be a guest on Trumpet Dynamics. It should be a great interview.
Some of the best Trumpet Dynamics interviews have been compiled into a product called "Secrets of the Musical Mind."