As a freelance musician over the years, quite incredibly, I have been asked the question 'what's your proper job?'. How insulting, thoughtless and quite frankly ignorant.
I am aware that this type of comment is aimed at a lot of younger musicians, and rather worryingly, I am aware that a lot of young music students are pressurised by family and friends as they consider their options post study with questions such as this.
Well, let's briefly look at the people asking these questions.
Their heart is probably in the right place, but they probably don't have a connection with music, in that they don't understand it, they can't really feel a particular emotional connection with it, or maybe because they can strum three chords on a guitar they think of music as a hobby and not a 'proper job'?
Or maybe it's because they worry for the young musician, thinking that they will be poor for the rest of their lives?
If you have no knowledge, understanding or appreciation of the subject that you are enquiring about, maybe you should research it and then choose your words more carefully? Please note that I feel no need to justify the music business here, and the incredible diversity of music, I'm so lucky to be a part of it, and if you display your ignorance by asking such an inane question, then I'm not about to waste my time on you.
I find that music is a world where imagination, creativity, dedication and skill prevail, one that is a lifelong journey and isn't a 'job', one where there is a deep emotional connection, and financial matters become secondary (still important purely from a practical level, but definitely secondary).
Music teaches us how to communicate. We learn how to work with people, how to be tolerant, how to encourage, and we question ourselves, have battles in our minds with ourselves, want to give up, and then work hard and battle through.
The hard work and desire pays off as we learn and listen more, listening skills that are on a new level, resulting in new levels of appreciation, opening new doors in our minds that are exciting and keep us spiritually alive (and I'm not a religious person).
Imagine a person in a suit and tie, who works in an office 9 to 5, Monday to Friday with the same people, someone who only travels when he or she has an annual holiday, someone who has the same monthly salary, and who will do the same job until he or she retires and takes their pension, and then dies.
Now I have a respect for those people, each to their own, and I understand about the need to have financial security.
But I don't want to be like you, I don't want that life, but I understand why you want to.
So please, instead of bringing your insecurities and stress into the lives of young people, students, musicians that have a passion for something, who are thinking and are alive with energy and ideas, who work hard, and who thrive on not knowing what is just around the corner, why not think who has the 'proper job'?
I have a job for a lifetime, that means until the day that I die, not when someone decides that I retire, because I have no choice, music is my life, and something that I couldn't live without. I strive to do my best at it, and I am in awe of musicians that inspire me. I hope that I may be able to share musical ideas with people of any age and experience that are like-minded.
And on that note, I will leave my laptop and go and do some practice! Have the faith any of you young musicians that are embarking in this glorious world of music, it's bloody hard work, and if you want it badly enough then music will become your life, sounds good to me.
news items and blog posts by Andy Scott