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Kyle23
05-02-2014, 10:27 PM
I've been watching some pros and some great players and it really intrigues me. It's intrigued me so much that I have dreams of being a ukulele pro on a consistent basis lol. What exactly constitutes as a professional ukulele player? Just making money from it, being sponsored or what? What is your definition? Also, has anyone on here pursued becoming a professional?

I'd like to see myself maybe 10 or so years down the line being a professional uke player. I know that sounds crazy and unlikely, but it's fun to dream! I've been in contact with Kimo Hussey a bit and he's given me great advice. Such a class act he is. That's another thing I love about the thought of making the ukulele a "job". The community is amazing.

So what do you guys think? Is there anyone on here pursuing a career in ukulele? What is your definition of a professional player?

drbekken
05-02-2014, 11:38 PM
In my opinion, a professional musician is one who works as hard as possible to hone his or her skill and craft, and who is open-minded and curious about different forms of musical expression. Furthermore, a professional musician is serious and respectful towards his or her audience. I also think it is important to have some sense of organisation and business, even if that may be a drag at times.
And to do all this, find the music you love and play it. The rewards will be immense; maybe not financially, but personally. The fact that I have the possibility to play music for a living is a huge privilege, and I am thankful every day. Last, but not least, the instrument you play is secondary. The music is in you.

The Big Kahuna
05-02-2014, 11:47 PM
1. Get good

2. Get lucky

3. Get famous


For every famous "virtuoso" there are 10 completely unknown people who are better in every way.

Ukejenny
05-03-2014, 11:49 AM
I think it means virtuosic ability and musicality and an ability to make it your living. Professional musicians wear a lot of hats that have nothing to do with being a musician.

chuck in ny
05-03-2014, 12:59 PM
my policy is to keep my day job.

Icelander53
05-03-2014, 01:30 PM
I've been watching some pros and some great players and it really intrigues me. It's intrigued me so much that I have dreams of being a ukulele pro on a consistent basis lol. What exactly constitutes as a professional ukulele player? Just making money from it, being sponsored or what? What is your definition? Also, has anyone on here pursued becoming a professional?

I'd like to see myself maybe 10 or so years down the line being a professional uke player. I know that sounds crazy and unlikely, but it's fun to dream! I've been in contact with Kimo Hussey a bit and he's given me great advice. Such a class act he is. That's another thing I love about the thought of making the ukulele a "job". The community is amazing.

So what do you guys think? Is there anyone on here pursuing a career in ukulele? What is your definition of a professional player?

Lots of great drugs and sex and an early grave.

billten
05-03-2014, 02:18 PM
MY brother has been a professional musician for the last 35 years and has actually been very successful at it. But, i have to say looking in from the outside the 'music business' is a dirty, ugly business with all manner of sharks and other types of bottom feeders that make up the 'business' side of music. Play it, love it and have an amazing time with it but making money out of music is really jumping into the swamp... Good luck with your goal, my advice would be get really high quality management as early as possible regardless of your musical ability.

Jim Hanks
05-03-2014, 03:07 PM
What exactly constitutes as a professional ukulele player? Just making money from it, being sponsored or what? What is your definition?
By definition, a professional ukulele player must earn the bulk of his/her livelihood from ukulele-related activities. This could be as a live performer, recording artist, studio musician, music minister, and/or teacher. It might also include things like publishing, writing, arranging, song writing, etc. You have to decide which things are important to you and which you would be willing to do to keep food on the table.

1931jim
05-03-2014, 03:47 PM
Hello Kyle23,
You will meet many musicians who play extremely well with their chosen instruments. Many will make you envious and make your jaw drop at their skills. So you can eat regularly, you have to keep uppermost in your mind this advice given to me many years ago by a sideman for Sophie Tucker. It is......Never forget you are an Entertainer.
Jim.

Wicked
05-03-2014, 03:58 PM
I started playing guitar when I was 13, and I guess that I had a knack for it, because by the time I was 16, I was jamming with the likes of Ray Charles. The doors were wide open for me to be (at the very least) an in demand studio musician or (assuming the stars were aligned) a performer who could make a serious living.

When I was 17, I turned away from the whole thing and got a degree in electrical engineering in stead. I did this mostly on the recommendation of a rather famous jazz musician who basically told me that "an engineer can always make music, but not vice versa." I have never regretted my decision. The life of a professional musician is not an easy one.

P.S.: I don't make my living as an electrical engineer either - but that is a story for another day.

DaveY
05-03-2014, 04:28 PM
Based on the responses, there obviously are different definitions of "professional ukulele player." (Mine is "you regularly make money doing it," although if you do other jobs, too, I'd call it "semi-professional.") I don't think the label matters much. Maybe you should set a modest goal, and when/if that one is met, set another one -- and if you ever are satisfied after reaching one of your goals, stay where you are (at least temporarily, maybe permanently), and label yourself whatever you want to (though "happy" would be ideal).

OldePhart
05-03-2014, 04:35 PM
By definition, a professional ukulele player must earn the bulk of his/her livelihood from ukulele-related activities. This could be as a live performer, recording artist, studio musician, music minister, and/or teacher. It might also include things like publishing, writing, arranging, song writing, etc. You have to decide which things are important to you and which you would be willing to do to keep food on the table.

:agree: Exactly this, the very defintion of "pro" (short for "professional") means that one makes their living primarily from the named endeavor. The next "level" down from that would be the "serious" or "dedicated" enthusiast. This is the person who has devoted enough time and energy to the activity that, with just a little luck and perseverence, they could probably earn a living doing it. In many cases they may be every bit as good as the "pro" - they just aren't hanging their future on it.

I once worked with an absolutely amazing rock guitarist and vocalist. I've seen him sit in with a band he'd never played with and "wake up" the dance floor by his presence...and I've seen it not once but many times. He even played with at least one band that went on to become international stars. But, his wife was very insecure and so he served 20 years as an enlisted man in the military for the security, and played in bands when and where he could. I'd call him a "serious enthusiast" even though he was frankly better than many folks who made it as "pros."

If you're seriously considering becoming a professional musician...keep in mind that only a tiny fraction of those who aspire to such make the cut. It's similar to professional sports in that regard. I'm not saying that to discourage you, but you need to count the cost, as they say.

John

peaceweaver3
05-03-2014, 05:02 PM
Being a professional in almost any field is as much about image (self-image and the one you project) as anything else. Do you show others an open mind? Enthusiasm? Dedication? Integrity? Skill, musical skill in this case? Tolerence for other people's opinions, beliefs and backgrounds? Respect for yourself and others?

Even the physical image is important, though I think if they really want to, musicians can get away with pretty much any image they choose... But at what cost?

At the end of the day, can you sleep with a clear conscience? And did you share hope or something positive with someone else? If so, then I call that professional.

Did you make money doing this? Then that makes you a paid professional. But professionalism, like music, happens inside first. (Cue newscaster here) "And that's the way it is." :)

janeray1940
05-03-2014, 05:04 PM
What is your definition of a professional player?

I don't think there is any one, single definition for this. I've pretty much grown up around incredibly talented musicians, and the majority of them make most of their income from teaching. Some are lucky enough to get session work or royalties from songwriting. Others have day jobs but gig on the side; to my mind, they are also "professional" musicians even though most of their income may come from non-music related work. I see all of them as "professional" musicians rather than professional teachers or professional fundraisers or professional postal clerks, because their true calling is the music and not what pays the bills. (Yes, I know a well-known ukulele player who has worked at the post office for a long, long time. Really.)

At the risk of sounding like a big cynic here - and I'm the first to admit that I'm a big cynic, and see no shame in that - with a handful of exceptions, making it as a professional musician has less to do with talent and sincerity and more to do with marketing and image. Ukulele is a bit more forgiving in this respect, but the bottom line is the "music business" is a business like any other - and "business" means marketing, promotion, and making a profit. And sometimes this is what makes the difference between a "pro" and a "great player" - I know a lot of "great players" who most people haven't ever heard of because for whatever reason, they weren't a sellable product.

UncleElvis
05-03-2014, 05:57 PM
I have been fortunate enough that almost everything I have done in the past 25 years has led to me becoming a professional entertainer (well, an Unprofessional one... who gets paid for it! *grin*)

1931jim has it exactly right. "Never forget you are an Entertainer."

I've been playing the ukulele for 4 years. It's my first instrument (other than violin when I was a kid! A LONG time ago). I fell in love with it and bust my butt to learn it as best I can.
I'm not great at it. I'm an average player and a pretty ok singer.
But I have fun and - through everything that I've done as an adult: Stand up comedy, singing with a rock band, amateur theatre - both on stage and back~, jobs in marketing, advertising, graphic design and web design, etc, etc - I've figured out a way to let the audience know just how much joy I'm feeling while I'm up there.

That's the lucky part.

That's about 3% of the whole thing.

The rest of it was busting my ass to learn everything I didn't know but needed to, learning songs, busting down doors to get gigs, playing a LOT of cheap gigs to relearn how to work an audience, this time as a solo act (there's a wonderful safety net when you have other people on stage. You can share energy and bounce stuff off the other guys and you know they've got your back. That disappears - terrifyingly! - when you go solo. It's just you up there on the tightrope!), promoting the heck out of myself, practicing practicing practicing (I play about 5 hours a day right now.), making every connection I can, shmoozing folks, putting bugs in ears...

I work three hours a night, six nights a week right now.

Well, that's what I get paid for.

I work another 10 or 11 doing all the other stuff! *grin*

Personally, I believe that "Luck" is simply "Creating, noticing and recognizing opportunities... and then grabbing them with both hands and putting everything you are into making the most of them. And then, busting your ass every day to make it happen and keep making it happen."

Wow. It is WAY too late for me! I get all "pontificate-y" when I get burnt out.

coolkayaker1
05-04-2014, 02:00 AM
Kyle, I can't keep up with you: didn't you start a thread a month ago saying you were sick of the uke? lol:)

Anyhow, you could try some busking on street corners. That ought to be enough to drive those professional instincts out of you.

ichadwick
05-04-2014, 02:36 AM
What exactly constitutes as a professional ukulele player?

The difference between lay/amateur and professional is making one's income from the work. As Google says it:


...engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.

Wikipedia adds:


The term also describes the standards of education and training that prepare members of the profession with the particular knowledge and skills necessary to perform the role of that profession. In addition, most professionals are subject to strict codes of conduct enshrining rigorous ethical and moral obligations. Professional standards of practice and ethics for a particular field are typically agreed upon and maintained through widely recognized professional associations.

It's not about how well you play. it's about whether or not music provides or is intended to provide your main source of income. Which for musicians may make slim pickings... most of the musicians I know also have other jobs to pay the rent.

66509
Q: What's the difference between a folk guitar player and a large pizza?
A: A large pizza can feed a family of four.

CeeJay
05-06-2014, 01:12 PM
1. Get good

2. Get lucky

3. Get famous


For every famous "virtuoso" there are 10 completely unknown people who are better in every way.

Absolutley spot on.........slightly cynical...but who says that cynics don't tell the truth ....and No.4 (tho' not numerated as such is the absolute best)