How to Grow as a Musician: What All Musicians Must Know to Succeed
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by Sheila A. Anderson
Format: Paperback, 256pp
Pub. Date: July 2005
Publisher: Allworth Press
Book Review by Kam Williams
’This is a book about growth, success, and personal discovery. It is designed for musicians who want more out of their careers- though you do not have to be a musician to benefit from the wisdom of the people interviewed.
In my ten years working in the jazz community as a radio announcer and as a
TV talk show host, I have met many musicians. I have discovered that, for the
most part, musicians are divided into two groups: the A-team and the B-team. The
A-team is made up of those who are always working, and the B-team is made up of
those who are barely working’ Throughout this book, I use actual examples of the
situations, behavior, and characteristics of musicians in each group to help you
understand the differences. Success is defined in many ways and it is
subjective. [But] each musician must have 100 percent of three things to be
successful: ability, business acumen, and drive.’
’Excerpted from the Introduction
Have you ever wondered whether you have the compendium of skills called for to make it in the music business? If so, I heartily recommend How to Grow as a Musician: What All Musicians Must Know to Succeed.
Over the years I have encountered a countless number of talented, but delusional, aspiring artists whose grandiose expectations about their prospective careers were woefully out of sync with the steps they were taking to get there. For instance, a common trait which seems to be shared not only by musicians, but by actors, dancers, and all sorts of young performers is that all they need to do is perfect their craft and they will somehow be magically discovered, appreciated and catapulted to super-stardom.
Fortunately, Sheila A. Anderson puts that myth to bed once and for all in a most informative how-to book which ought to be required reading for every kid walking around with a head clouded by such a na've dream. Anderson, a long-time host of both a television and a radio show devoted to jazz, tapped an array of her contacts in order to determine those traits shared by those on what she calls the A-team.
The author conducted 30 interviews in preparing this tome, which enabled her to share the insights of such jazz greats like Billy Taylor, Ron Carter, Al Jarreau, Olu Dara and Kenny Barron. But of equal importance, was the wisdom she gleaned about other aspects of the business from the perspective of an entertainment attorney, a radio DJ, a nightclub owner, a record label executive, and a road manager.
Written in an engaging, easy-to-read style, the text is presented in a sensible sequence, with the early chapters raising and addressing typical questions which would confront someone just starting out. How important is formal education? What's more valuable performing or practice? Is there such a thing as too much practice?
Later we learn how to prepare for a performance, when and how to record, how to promote yourself, and the pitfalls of signing a music contract. And remember, these pearls of wisdom come courtesy of veterans who know from experience, some bitter, some blessed.
Best of all, the book concludes with a self-evaluation test which enables
each prospective icon to discern whether he or she is ready to make the
commitment. How to Grow as a Musician will serve as a sobering lesson to any
virtuoso in need of a wake-up call that they must counterbalance their love of
music with attention to the other necessities called for to insure a shot at an
enduring and satisfying career.
Sheila E. Anderson Interview
Sheila E. Anderson Late Night Jazz Host WBGO 88.3 FM New York