We often get asked how important education is to music. There are many cases of traditionally untrained musicians who have produced masterpieces and established their legacies. Eric Clapton, David Bowie, Keith Moon, Louis Armstrong… these are just a few notable names who are entirely self-schooled.
If a degree and years of training aren’t the determining characteristics of a musician, then what is? It is fair to establish that there needs to be set of criteria that will determine a specific outcome. To find out, we interviewed a lot of people that we adore in the industry to find out their commonalities. These are what we determined to be essential for a musician.
Training and Education
To begin with, training and education are essential. But we don’t refer to education as per the traditional school of thought. Education doesn’t necessarily mean going to a school and getting a degree, or enrolling for private classes. The key tenet of a good student is a desire and willingness for continuous learning, from whatever sources available. If you can’t afford a proper education, find alternative means to learn.
Music is one area where desire trumps training. We have seen many cases of that. As music doesn’t necessarily have a close-ended means to mastery, as is the case with Mathematics or Science, each person needs to seek his own path. Desire is quintessential to that.
Creativity can be learnt.. to an extent. As a musician, you have to be creative as music is a commodity that can be accessed by all. Your competition is immense. Thinking out of the box, blending ideas and concepts, and perhaps ignoring certain feedback that you receive, is important in the creative process. While feedback is crucial in most cases, creativity is something that is perceived differently by each individual.
Ok, we admit. This can’t be taught. You either have it or you don’t. While it seems unfair, luck is essential in any field of work. In music, you are lucky if you are born with talent. If you’re not, it is still possible to train yourself to be a great musician. However, you need to take the hard route.
Connections and network were not as crucial a few decades back as they are today. With music being a multi-million dollar business, it is important to find the right people by your side. This will take time and you may still not succeed. Get out of your comfort zone and seek out people. Always remember that networking is two-sided. You may need to do some favors before you reap the result.
We are aware how difficult it is to succeed as a musician in this world of paparazzi, glitter, shallow appearances and money. If you feel you have the talent, don’t give up. Also keep in mind what not to do. We have listed a few things that are wrong with music today in the post below.