It never ceases to amaze me how mean musicians can be to each other. As if being a performing artist isn’t already difficult enough, we find ourselves having to constantly “prove” ourselves to people who also do what we do… just maybe slightly differently.
My most recent interaction involved a fellow union member at a union meeting. Now, I’ve only been a part of the AFM (www.afm.org) for about a year in a half now, but just like I do with most things in my life, I have jumped in with both feet – joined committees and made myself a presence within that community. I love talking to musicians, networking, sharing, and just generally getting to know people.
I had someone who I didn’t know come up and talk to me at the last meeting. The first thing I got was the “oh, you’re the teacher” comment which I let slide. Although it may have been the norm in the past that only those who couldn’t make it as professionals ended up teaching, I know a huge number of professional musicians who also teach. Why? Because they have to and because they enjoy it. The life of a professional musician has changed and the best performers are the best teachers. But that’s for another discussion.
This person asked me if I was auditioning for a opening in one of the local orchestras. I told him that I was a freelance musician who’s main focus was jazz and rock. I explained that I decided long ago that the orchestra scene was not my bag and I that I don’t regret it. He mentioned something about there being chocolate and vanilla and then looked at me and said “well, I’ll see you in the audience” and walked away.
I went through a series of reactions… at first I was offended. Then I accused myself of overreacting. Then I was offended. Then I laughed.
I ran it past a classical bassist friend of mine later and had it confirmed… I was being dissed.
It truly blows my mind that this type of thinking is still out there in this day and age. Everyone has their own path, their own sense of purpose and there own style which they are drawn to. I don’t care what style of music you play – it’s the same 12 notes. We’re all dividing an octave. We’re all trying to make music. And for this to occur in at a Union meeting is just disappointing. Especially at a time when union membership is down, orchestra jobs are disappearing, and musicians are struggling. Alienation seems like a very illogical and counterproductive choice to me.
Musicians have so many obstacles to overcome without standing in each other’s way and trying to knock each other down. Musicians – be nice to each other, support each other, and yes, go see a live concert … and who knows, I might just see you in the audience!