Recently I have been having a change of mindset towards the way I approach life in general. This is really stemming from two books that I am reading. The first book, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, is making me relook what it means to be truly dedicated to something, and specifically what it takes to become a professional composer. The second book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, is making me rethink about what my autopilot responses are.
Here is a little thought experiment. Look back in history, and tell me your absolute favorite amateur composers. I am talking about the truly great ones, the household names. Times up! Which ones did you come up with? Thought so.
The main point of The War of Art, is that most people who are amateur, do not make the mental leap to becoming pro.
If you type into google, “Amateur Composer,” you’ll see some funny looking top hits:
- “Where does an amateur composer find a job? Or is he heard?”
- “Anyone want to help an amateur composer out?”
- “AMATEUR COMPOSER SEEKING LIBRETTIST”
Smacks of mediocrity. Who in their right mind would hire someone who calls themself “amateur.”
What they, you… all of us need, is to make the mental jump to turning pro.
I Compose for the Love of Music
Yeah, I get it. You love music. You love to compose. You don’t want to soil this pure desire to just create with dirty money. Get over yourself. Bach was a pro. He got paid to create music. Haydn was a pro. That is why they call him Kappelmeister. That basically means orchestra master. Mozart, yeah he made money too. Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Mahler. They were professionals. They continued to compose, money or not, as if their lively hoods depended on it, because they did.
Sometimes these composers didn’t make a lot of money, and sometimes they did. Sometimes they had day jobs other than composing, but they all sat down and knocked it out.
The main things that make you a pro versus an amateur are not if your music is good. They are:
- You composer everyday, like it is your job. You just do it.
- You learn about your craft. This means theory, instrumental technique, understanding yourself and how you work best. A lot goes into craft.
- You put your music out there for the public to hear it.
- You finish the pieces that are nagging you, because you know thats what you need to do. Don’t become too invested in the final product.
- After you finish, you start the next one, and you always improve.
There are more, but I think you get the point.
So Go Turn Pro
It doesn’t cost you any money to turn pro. You don’t have to have a degree. You just need to do it.