Life-Ready Musician #1: Don’t be the Stereotype

Life Ready MusicianLife-Ready Musician is the companion
project to “Gig-Ready Jazz Bassist.” In this series, I discuss strategies to help competent musicians become responsible adults. The crucial first-step to this process is simple: decide that you don’t want to be a stereotypical musician.

What do I mean by “stereotypical musician”? By this, I’m referring to the typical associations with working musicians – that they are broke, cynical, scattered, uncompromising to their art, etc. Obviously, there are many who don’t fit these stereotypes. However, there are also many who lack the business-, life-, and/or social-skills needed to move beyond the stereotypical musician’s lifestyle.

For almost a decade, I abandoned my dream of being a professional musician. I wanted to be a stable, secure, responsible adult – something that seemed in complete conflict with being a working musician. As I finished my Ph.D., I realized that academia was every bit as precarious – if not more so. I also realized that even if academia had been a safe-bet, I still needed to leave and get back to my passion for performance.

Becoming a “life-ready musician” didn’t happen overnight – it took a lot of trial-and-error. Over the past year and a half, I’ve run my own business as a jazz bassist and instructor. I’m still figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

My journey was not a linear, step-by-step process. However, I greatly benefited from taking specific actions. I’ve tried to condense these action-items into 100 posts, covering money, career design, business administration, musicianship, self-care, household, appearance, and relationships. Not everything will be applicable or relevant to others, but my hope is that overall it will be helpful to folks in similar situations as myself.

You don’t need to go in any particular order – just get started and see what works. But before you can do that, you need to first make the conscious decision to build a career on your own terms – and not be just another stereotypical musician.

Author: Leah Pogwizd

Bassist, Instructor, Writer

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