I teach my students the rudiments of music and the techniques necessary to master their instrument, but also try give them preparation on how to be successful in life. Three valuable lessons I’ve learned from music teachers, coaches, and family are to show up, show up early, and show up prepared. I believe that these edicts are important to pass on to any young person to place them on the pathway to success.
- Show up- Musicians and others in the arts are often plagued with self-doubt that causes many missed opportunities. Many will skip auditions feeling they are unqualified, underprepared or simply not good enough. People working in the arts need to get past this and show up for every opportunity. Even if things do not go well, it does not mean that another opportunity could not surface. One thing is assured; nothing will happen if you don’t show up.
Another aspect of showing up is being reliable. Once you’ve landed that job or part do not ruin that opportunity by being unreliable. Take care of yourself so that you are healthy, do not take unnecessary sick days and be sure of your schedule to avoid last minute conflicts. Once you are picked for a part or given a job people are relying on you. Irreversible damage can be done to your reputation if you let them down.
- Show up early- Early is on time and on time is late. One of the best habits for someone to develop is showing up early. Not only does this demonstrate respect people in your workplace, band, etc. it is also a kind of insurance policy. It is insurance that even if you hit traffic you are going to be on time, if you show up and something is wrong it can get fixed, and if you forget something there is time to go get it. It is also vital for performers and athletes to be early to warm up and prepare for an event.
- Show up prepared- One of the most unprofessional things a musician can do is show up unprepared. You can never spend enough time making sure you have everything ready for an event. Students must make it a habit to make a list for every event and double check that list before hitting the road. Researching direction and scouting locations is also helpful.
Not only must everything be learned, prepared and loaded, but you must make sure it works; such as guitar cables, microphones, amps, etc. It is also important to have back ups for all gear and even instruments. I like to take this a step or two further and even practice in the clothing I would like to wear so I know how everything will feel and I bring extra copies of sheet music as well.
It may also be vital that you have a backup for yourself. Severe illness and emergency can happen. In this case it is helpful to have someone who can cover you in case the worst happens. Try to think ahead of a reliable colleague or two that can sub for you if this happens.
These life lessons have assisted me not only in making music but in nearly every other aspect of life. I believe that if they are passed on to students it will be of infinite help regardless of their chosen path.