Pursue your dream, master your craft

It is just about one year since I wrote my first article for this newspaper on the topic of exploring your options in music by practising and playing in a variety of styles and genres. However, this made me think about that initial moment when you decide you want to be a musician. It is understandable that to many, this is a profession that is not widely known to bring success. After all, how many world famous bands can there be?
There are a select few that have made international fame. But does that mean that unless you are known in many different countries you are not successful? Here is where I feel people have become apprehensive when choosing to pursue a career in music. Writing here in Mauritius, I have seen great musicians, working hard for their craft and following their ambition in order to express themselves. However, there are many who appear to be scared to take the leap into the unknown.
Growing up in England, I was fifteen when I decided that I was going to leave formal education and go to a specialised music college. Knowing full well that I had no money and that I was still dependent on my parents, I  remember explaining the case to my family. I was fortunate that my family accepted the news and were happy for me to take that step. However, I understand that for some this is not always the case for people. The question you have to ask yourself is “who am I doing this for?”
Sure you could be a doctor, a teacher, a pilot; but if this doesn't make you happy, is it worth it? With the average working life being 40 years, it is a long time to do something you are not one hundred percent invested in. You may regret it if you don't at least give it a shot.
So you want to be a musician? This is one of the most rewarding times, realising what you want to do as a career. However, how can you achieve your goals? Here are some key points I have found helpful to consider:

A second source of income is always beneficial
Working as a musician in England, I rely on a second job in order to gain additional funds. The hours are long when I incorporate music and my second source of income. This is a pleasure however, as I am aware of the steps that I need to make in order to arrive where I want to be. Advertising, recording, rent, and transport all cost money. This is not something to fear though. There are many other musicians in the same boat and the satisfaction of being able to achieve a goal is second to none. My sincere belief is that it is by doing all that you can to push for your dreams, that you appreciate how lucky we are as musicians to be truly happy in what we do.

There are so many styles and genres out there
Don’t feel that there is a certain genre or style you should play in. Just like playing an instrument, you should choose the best one to best express yourself, not what someone else thinks you should play. In modern times, there are so many genres that it is now even more accessible for people to find their voices in music (not just lyrically). During my time here in Mauritius this summer I have seen pop, classical, and death metal musicians. This has been a real pleasure as it is good to see a variety of genres being played. Going with the theme of this article, the choice should be yours. Always remember why you are playing and who you are playing for. This will allow you to continue to be the musician you want to be. Don't feel you have to play in an orchestra because you learnt classical music. Classical music is a fantastic way to learn music theoretically, building techniques that can then aid your expression in every other genre. Some of the best rock guitarists have studied classical music. This leads me to one final piece of advice on this topic that is to be open to many genres as this broadened vocabulary of music will only aid your expression.

Don’t settle for OK. Be the best you can be
Not everyone wants to be the most technically equipped musician. For some just knowing some simple chords is enough to express oneself. But it is how we deliver the notes we play that make or break a piece of music. You need conviction. A performance has the power to move people as people can see the sheer investment that one can have in their craft. Similarly on a studio recording, though you may not see the musician(s), you can hear them as if they were in your front room. This is because you need to be fully invested into all of your music. When you fully commit to what you do, you will notice how people connect to your music (sharing your passion). This takes time however. Be prepared to slowly define your sound and performance; and remember that although it may take time, it is better to perform at one-hundred percent than sixty percent.

“It’s been a week and I’m not a millionaire? Maybe I should give up”
The majority of musicians have successful careers and sufficient wealth without being millionaires or being world famous. In my opinion if you are in music for the money, it may be worth having a second thought. Although this is an industry with wealth, artists like Adele and Coldplay are rare occurrences and you should not feel like a failure. This is not a salaried job with job security, but if it is what you want to do, go for it! There are so many different sources of income within music including: session musicians, music for games, hotel musicians… The list goes on. Never limit yourself. Always remember why you are doing this, after all you have stepped into the unknown in order to make a fulfilling and happy career. As long as you remember this you will never give up, even through the toughest of times.

In summary, I hope that this article has been an insight into breaking the thought process that stops people following their dreams to become great musicians. Everybody has the capabilities to achieve in music and there are great people and institutions within Mauritius to help guide you on your way. If there is one thing from this to take with you, it is to ensure that whatever you choose to do, do what makes you happy, you’ll feel better for it!

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Art Banymandhub is a professional musician, teacher, and writer living in Bath, England. Graduating with a First Class Honours Degree at the Institute of Contemporary Music in London, Art now performs live as a session player and records as a session musician. Art currently works predominantly with the folk duo, ‘Lauren Bradford’ and his solo contemporary bass project ‘Art Banymandhub Music’.
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