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casarole45
01-03-2010, 08:05 AM
Hey, I keep seeing the term professional musician on UU lately, just wondering what people define as pro muscians as they seem to be referred to as ...the others. I'm sure loads of you guys are pro musicians. I would class it as someone who gets payed a respectable fee, i.e. the hundreds upwards for playing, from pub gigs and upwards... though I don't think I'd include busking in that.

I pretty sure many of you guys are exactly what I would class as professional musicians... what do ya reckon??

Professor Palmer
01-03-2010, 08:52 AM
I think I often confuse "professional" with "famous". Yeah, professional would mean that you get paid for it. Though, I'd think to think that it's more something you can make a living off of. You could argue it both ways though.

Ahnko Honu
01-03-2010, 08:58 AM
Someone who makes a living playing music, who actually gets paid for performing. Opinions may vary on whether a guy who's a carpenter 5 days a weeks and plays gigs on weekends is a professional, but to me if he is getting paid to supplement his income then he (or she) is a professional.

Thumper
01-03-2010, 09:03 AM
Someone who gets paid to play music. Whether it's their only source of income is not relevant.

I was a fulltime professional musician for 20 years; now I have a day job and I play less frequently. But I'm playing better than ever, and continue to perform with some major artists, so I can't see how I would no longer be considered professional, just because I don't fill out my calendar with crummy bar gigs. Bottom line, I think people worry too much about categories. You can be more than one thing. I'm a writer, a father, a professional musician (drummer), and more - but I'm definitely an AMATEUR ukulele player, that's for sure!

Ukulele JJ
01-03-2010, 09:18 AM
Of course, the word "professional" can also mean a way of behaving/presenting oneself. I know plenty of people who get paid to play music, but who are not professional about it at all. :-)

A "pro" musician, in addition to having whatever mastery of the instrument and repertoire is required for the gig, would also:


Have the correct gear and remember to bring it along
Have spare strings (if they play a stringed instrument), drumsticks and probably snare head (if they're a drummer), groundlifts, batteries, extension cords, clothespins (if they're using a music stand outdoors), etc... whatever would constitute "being prepared" for the various things that can go wrong on a gig
Show up on time. Or even early.
Be willing to help with load-in and load-out if need be
Be polite to the club owner, audience members, bartenders, stagehands, monitor guy, etc.
Dress appropriately for the gig
Not exceed the appropriate level of insobriety for the gig
Not complain about the stupid stuff (which is most of the stuff)


JJ

casarole45
01-03-2010, 09:21 AM
yeah I made the thread cause I kinda think a lot of people refer to the famous as professionals.. I admit it gets to me a bit... as if they are something more relevant in music than the other players out there, that cannot be aspired too..... but there are many great pro musicians doing the curcuits at pubs etc (and I'd include the carpenter who plays at weekends in that), many of these I rate well over the famous musicians out there and bring more to the scenes I love when going out to see music.

casarole45
01-03-2010, 09:23 AM
Of course, the word "professional" can also mean a way of behaving/presenting oneself. I know plenty of people who get paid to play music, but who are not professional about it at all. :-)

A "pro" musician, in addition to having whatever mastery of the instrument and repertoire is required for the gig, would also:


Have the correct gear and remember to bring it along
Have spare strings (if they play a stringed instrument), drumsticks and probably snare head (if they're a drummer), groundlifts, batteries, extension cords, clothespins (if they're using a music stand outdoors), etc... whatever would constitute "being prepared" for the various things that can go wrong on a gig
Show up on time. Or even early.
Be willing to help with load-in and load-out if need be
Be polite to the club owner, audience members, bartenders, stagehands, monitor guy, etc.
Dress appropriately for the gig
Not exceed the appropriate level of insobriety for the gig
Not complain about the stupid stuff (which is most of the stuff)

JJ

LOL, you speak as if you are thinking of someone specific, great post

ukecantdothat
01-03-2010, 10:36 AM
Of course, the word "professional" can also mean a way of behaving/presenting oneself. I know plenty of people who get paid to play music, but who are not professional about it at all. :-)

A "pro" musician, in addition to having whatever mastery of the instrument and repertoire is required for the gig, would also:


Have the correct gear and remember to bring it along
Have spare strings (if they play a stringed instrument), drumsticks and probably snare head (if they're a drummer), groundlifts, batteries, extension cords, clothespins (if they're using a music stand outdoors), etc... whatever would constitute "being prepared" for the various things that can go wrong on a gig
Show up on time. Or even early.
Be willing to help with load-in and load-out if need be
Be polite to the club owner, audience members, bartenders, stagehands, monitor guy, etc.
Dress appropriately for the gig
Not exceed the appropriate level of insobriety for the gig
Not complain about the stupid stuff (which is most of the stuff)


JJ

This is a sure thread winner!!!

scottie
01-03-2010, 02:12 PM
Cool. . . so busking makes me a pro. I LIKE IT !

clayton56
01-03-2010, 09:42 PM
I agree you don't have to make a living at it. However, I think 'professional' is about competence and skill -
1) literate (can read music, chord charts, transpose, arrange, as necessary)
2) talent/ability sufficient for the material
3) professional attitude (organized, responsible, good behavior on-stage)
4) playing to support the band and please the audience, rather than just showing off on his own instrument (big problem with amateur bands)

I was in plenty of bands that were none of those things but still got paid, and I have been in some that didn't get paid but were all of those things. I've seen some great buskers that I would consider professional. Heck, in our town you have to have a license, sounds professional to me.

Pippin
01-03-2010, 09:52 PM
I agree you don't have to make a living at it. However, I think 'professional' is about competence and skill -
1) literate (can read music, chord charts, transpose, arrange, as necessary)
2) talent/ability sufficient for the material
3) professional attitude (organized, responsible, good behavior on-stage)
4) playing to support the band and please the audience, rather than just showing off on his own instrument (big problem with amateur bands)

I was in plenty of bands that were none of those things but still got paid, and I have been in some that didn't get paid but were all of those things. I've seen some great buskers that I would consider professional. Heck, in our town you have to have a license, sounds professional to me.

I know a lot of full-time country players past and present that do not read music or use tabs. I grew up with some of the biggest names in country music. Most of them never looked at "sheet music", they played by ear. So did I. In fact, I never made sheet music for my own songs and I am a professional songwriter, too (that's what arrangers are for). ASCAP never asked me to make my sheet music (again, that's what arrangers are for).

buddhuu
01-04-2010, 12:14 AM
To me a simple set of definitions would be:


Professional musician: one for whom music is the primary occupation and income source
Semi-professional musician: one who makes some money from their music
Amateur: one who rarely, if ever, makes money from music.


As JJ pointed out, "professional" can also refer to attitude and level of preparedness.

It's all in the context.


Edit to add - Some of the most professional musicians I know are amateurs.

EricStetson
01-04-2010, 03:51 AM
I suppose I'm a professional by the requisites listed here, I get most of my money accompanying a church choir on piano and play gigs around town, weddings, parties, concerts; and make commissioned music for local films and theater productions. I also teach lessons on the ukulele. I always took the term "professional" as being something other people labeled you with, since what you refer to yourself as really has nothing to do with how good you are (or how much money you charge). Calling yourself a professional is sort of like awarding yourself a black belt - anybody can wear it, but it doesn't mean much if "other" people don't bestow the honor.

So, in my book - you're a professional when other folks call you one. It's really subjective, I know, but that's the best indicator for such a subjective term.

-Eric

Ukulele JJ
01-04-2010, 04:13 AM
I know a lot of full-time country players past and present that do not read music or use tabs.

That's true. That's why I was careful to couch my definition of professional in terms of what type of gig you are playing.

Someone who can't read standard notation would probably not work too well in a Broadway show band. At the same time, a seasoned classical guitarist would be likely in big trouble if they had to do a Nashville country gig and couldn't read number charts (or didn't have the ears to not need to).

The classical guy would probably need to show up in a tux for his gigs, but that probably wouldn't fly for playing Jimmy Buffett covers at a frat party.

Professionalism in music, as it is everywhere else, is about having the appropriate skills and behavior for the situation.

JJ

mealfrog41
01-04-2010, 11:12 AM
I play very regular paying gigs around Seattle and I take the band and my music very seriously, but I do not by any means consider myself a professional musician. In my opinion that connotation implies mastery of the instrument which, while competent, I don't feel I possess... yet. That's just my take.

ricdoug
01-04-2010, 11:50 AM
I know a lot of full-time country players past and present that do not read music or use tabs. I grew up with some of the biggest names in country music. Most of them never looked at "sheet music", they played by ear. So did I. In fact, I never made sheet music for my own songs and I am a professional songwriter, too (that's what arrangers are for). ASCAP never asked me to make my sheet music (again, that's what arrangers are for).

I know a professional ukulele artist that does not read music:

http://www.dericksebastian.com

I classify a professional as anyone who receives money, food, gifts, services, etc... for their services. Ric

EricStetson
01-04-2010, 01:43 PM
I classify a professional as anyone who receives money, food, gifts, services, etc... for their services. Ric



Hahaha - I know a photographer in town that will make headshots in exchange for weed. Does that count?

clayton56
01-04-2010, 09:54 PM
I read once that the Brothers Gibb "The Bee-Gees" didn't read music at all. They are certainly rich and successful, but I wouldn't consider them as professional as the studio musicians who could play for them in the studio, play in an orchestra pit that night, and do a church gig on Sunday. Lots of bands and performers play from memory or repetition and don't read, but I just can't consider illiteracy a professional qualification, money or not. Of course a performing band has to learn their set, but they got there by being professional - communicating. Maybe you could classify the ones who get paid but can't read as professionals and the ones who can read as Professionals. I have encountered Professionals who could play anything anywhere at any time and the others who were lost if not in their own familiar environment.

luvdat
01-05-2010, 12:33 AM
Someone who makes a living playing music, who actually gets paid for performing. Opinions may vary on whether a guy who's a carpenter 5 days a weeks and plays gigs on weekends is a professional, but to me if he is getting paid to supplement his income then he (or she) is a professional.

On board with this defintion for a few reasons.

First, a musician is not in the strictest sense a member of a "profession" even if they have a license (permit essentially) or belong to a union or makes tons of money. Follow up on the definition of a "profession." It's not meant to be insulting to anyone, whatever they do for a living.

Second, consider the source of income of famous professional athletes, especially when endorsements eclipse their earnings playing their sport. Sure, the sport/talent/marketing potential led to the endorsements...but is that still their "main source of income?" Why is someone else who is less famous and also not a member of a "profession" be disqualified from being considered a "professional musician" when something like playing golf is also not a "profession" really and golf in the strictest sense is not their main source of income? What if their "regular job" led to a contact for gigs? Yeah, it's still different. If exactly half of someone's income came from playing gigs and half from working as a manager of a bookstore would they still be a "semi-pro?" I'm deliberately taking this to extremes...to arrive at a luminous, "So what?"

Professional is used somewhat loosely here from the outset so let's all lighten up. It's a word I brought up on on another thread in connection with tenor ukeleles..(being a soprano player, I could never be a "pro" even if by some miracle I started making tons of money playing uke and singing or be counted among those who "show up at luaus." Are those pros crashing those luaus?)

Have you ever heard of a musician being sued for malpractice? Let's have fun, the gigs will come if that's what we're after.

I think a bigger concern is playing uke from the heart, not being a jerk.

scottie
01-05-2010, 02:30 AM
I read once that the Brothers Gibb "The Bee-Gees" didn't read music at all. They are certainly rich and successful, but I wouldn't consider them as professional as the studio musicians who could play for them in the studio, play in an orchestra pit that night, and do a church gig on Sunday. Lots of bands and performers play from memory or repetition and don't read, but I just can't consider illiteracy a professional qualification, money or not. Of course a performing band has to learn their set, but they got there by being professional - communicating. Maybe you could classify the ones who get paid but can't read as professionals and the ones who can read as Professionals. I have encountered Professionals who could play anything anywhere at any time and the others who were lost if not in their own familiar environment.

I think that if you're going to take that gig in the pit or in the studio day in and day out you'd better be able to run with those dogs. . . gotta read because you have to learn pieces quickly with attention to detail, gotta have a good ear, gotta have chops if improv is part of the deal, and have the proper attitude that goes with having other people who depend on you to help them earn their living count on you to perform to standards you've all agreed on. . . that's professional in that context.

Then, someone who makes money teaching and playing gigs, even if they have some other income stream. . . they're pro too, just in their own context.

I'm just so pumped that busking qualifies me as a pro. :D

jerickson
01-05-2010, 07:28 AM
Of course, the word "professional" can also mean a way of behaving/presenting oneself. I know plenty of people who get paid to play music, but who are not professional about it at all. :-)

A "pro" musician, in addition to having whatever mastery of the instrument and repertoire is required for the gig, would also:


Have the correct gear and remember to bring it along
Have spare strings (if they play a stringed instrument), drumsticks and probably snare head (if they're a drummer), groundlifts, batteries, extension cords, clothespins (if they're using a music stand outdoors), etc... whatever would constitute "being prepared" for the various things that can go wrong on a gig
Show up on time. Or even early.
Be willing to help with load-in and load-out if need be
Be polite to the club owner, audience members, bartenders, stagehands, monitor guy, etc.
Dress appropriately for the gig
Not exceed the appropriate level of insobriety for the gig
Not complain about the stupid stuff (which is most of the stuff)


JJ

I love this post! I couldn't have said it better!!

Bluke
01-05-2010, 07:59 AM
Professional musician:

Always has a girlfriend (so he has a place to live)
Drives an old beater car (so no maintenance or body work is ever done)
Has a LOT of friends (so there's always a place to eat)
Never commits to anything (in case a real gig shows up)
Wishes he had a nice instrument like yours (Hey, can I borrow your amp?)
Disappears for long periods of time with no notice (I was woodshedding, man!)
Often works cleaning windows or at the car wash (so he can afford weed and cigs)

casarole45
01-05-2010, 09:23 AM
:agree:... but on the last point in my case its cheap larger from a country yet to be named..

luvdat
01-05-2010, 12:26 PM
I think that if you're going to take that gig in the pit or in the studio day in and day out you'd better be able to run with those dogs. . . gotta read because you have to learn pieces quickly with attention to detail, gotta have a good ear, gotta have chops if improv is part of the deal, and have the proper attitude that goes with having other people who depend on you to help them earn their living count on you to perform to standards you've all agreed on. . . that's professional in that context.

Then, someone who makes money teaching and playing gigs, even if they have some other income stream. . . they're pro too, just in their own context.

I'm just so pumped that busking qualifies me as a pro. :D

It's unfortunate that most guitarists (and aspring uke players?) don't consider a major component of "chops" a sense of rhythm. IMO, this is the hardest part of "ear."

With respect to those who wish to "do" the music/style of someone like Jake Shimakaburo...at least to my observation/listening, the part they least consider is timing, tempo, phrasing, rhythm...but let's not even go into the virtuosity of Jake S., someone like John Lee Hooker whom many would consider "simple" eludes them. In general, those who aspire to be "pro" overplay.

This is why every so often some bonehead will comment how "too simple" someone like Ohta-San is...these people are clueless. Accordingly, they equate "pro" also with complex, a better cover for their own lack of heart while playing...their own "off" breathing...their own imagined emphasis on "lead."

dianalele
01-05-2010, 05:18 PM
Interesting topic.

So some people have said that a pro is someone who gets paid for their music. I guess maybe if you specify "for performing". I make a living teaching violin, viola, cello, voice, and guitar, but I am NOT professional at all those.

At the same time, I know some people who I would consider professional who dont get paid.

So I guess the best definition for "professional musician" is the ability to call yourself one, without a crowd of angry people calling you a liar.