Music – Work or Play

jcbahamas7aMusic: Work or Play?
By Professor Joan Cartwright
[March 25, 2016] Most musicians begin their careers at four or five years old and continue until they die. Does the term play effect people’s thinking about what musicians really do? Does the action of playing music mean that musicians do not work?

In my 40-year career as a vocalist and songwriter, I have run into stone walls getting to the next level. I started singing at a theater in Jamaica, New York, at the age of four. By eight, I was a headliner in the annual Bernice Johnson Dance Recital. Mother doted on my Shirley Temple curls and my outfits of shiny tinsel and crinoline-lined, lacy dresses, not to mention the ballet, tap, and interpretive costumes my parents paid for.

I studied piano with a woman whose name is long forgotten. But her stern face never encouraged me to learn. I was 27 when I met Gerald Price, the musician whose demeanor catalyzed my growth as a vocalist, pianist, and composer. My harp teacher, Caliope Proios, with whom I studied for two years, listened to my life stories as she showed me the difficulties of changing pedals and string fingering.

In the seventies, my formal education involved music, but I dueled my B.A. with Communications, a new department, separate from English. Television production fell under this banner, with radio, journalism, marketing and advertising, while The Medium is the Message (1964) by Marshall McLuhan led me to do everything to get the message out that I am a musician and I have something to say.

For the first 10 years of my career, I was paid to do what I love – sing. But I was told that singing for free at benefits was good ‘for exposure’ by a singer friend. However, I decided that we would get more exposure standing on a corner, taking our tops off than performing at benefits. Finally, I told people, “I can do it, but I cannot ask musicians to work for free.”

After all, I worked (or played) with grown men and women who had children to feed and bills to pay. Every doctor and lawyer has pro bono cases in their filing cabinet that comprise less than 10% of their case load. But a musician, who plays for a living, is invited to perform at benefits at the ratio of three benefits to one gig. This had to stop and I was the only one who could stop it.

In 1990, I traveled overseas to sing in Switzerland, where I was treated with dignity. Europeans do not see musicians as people who play. Music is work. So, I was paid well and given lots of respect. When I returned to the States, in 1996, people treated me better than before I took the step across the big pond. I determined that musicians must leave the comfort of their homeland in order to be appreciated at home.

Ten years later, I had completed a five-month tour of Asia, and people in Atlanta, who never thought of me as a professional before, seemed to take me more seriously. In China, I worked at two clubs, where I did not make as much money as I did in 1990. Musicians’ pay always reduces, while the cost of living rises. That is ridiculous. People think musicians do not pay bills. After all, they spend their lives playing instead of working like other people.

The truth is that musicians do the job that doctors and lawyers cannot do. In one hour, musicians heal hundreds, even thousands of people. The right song keeps a couple from divorcing or pushes them to see that they are not right for each other, saving thousands of dollars of legal deliberation.

Music permeates the planet, bringing joy to all who hear it. People enjoy a concert more than they do a hospital stay or sitting in law office. Yet, they will pay doctors and lawyers extortionate fees and squint, when they get a high quote for a band of four or five adults to perform at a wedding or office party, where they will be enjoying themselves because of the music!

I am befuddled at what people will pay for and what they want to get for free. Learning music is not free. You pay for lessons. You pay with your time to practice. You continue to learn more music. You must stay in front of the pack in order to be seen, heard, and appreciated. Producing music is not free. Studio time is extremely costly. Paying musicians to perform your music is expensive, even if they are your friends. Mixing and mastering music is expensive (up to $100 per song). Duplicating CDs, producing videos, and marketing music runs into the thousands. But getting paid for a gig can be the hardest part of a musician’s job.

Finally, unlike most professionals, there is little in the way of retirement or insurance funding for musicians, who do not belong to the Musician’s Union, which few musicians either can or will afford. Musicians give joy to others throughout their lives and, unless they have a hit song or record, they have very little income to fall back on in their old age. Most die destitute, leaving little inheritance for their spouse and offspring.

It is uncanny. What brings people the most pleasure, rarely sustains those who create it. But the beat goes on and, somehow, musicians find venues where they can keep the music

playing. (918 words)

References

 

McLuhan, M. (1964). The medium is the message. Understanding media: The extensions of man. Retrieved from http://web.mit.edu/allanmc/www/mcluhan.mediummessage.pdf

__________________________________________

Diva Joan Cartwright is an internationally-known vocalist, composer, and author of 11 books. She holds a BA in Music/Communications from LaSalle U, in Philadelphia, PA; an MA in Communications from FAU, in Boca Raton, FL; and is a doctoral candidate for a DBA in Business Marketing online at Northcentral University, in Prescott Valley, AZ. Since 1997, Joan has been the CEO of FYI Communications, Inc. and, since 2007, her non-profit, Women in Jazz South Florida, Inc. with 304 members promotes women musicians, globally. In 2016, WIJSF released its 6th CD of the music of women composers. Joan hosts an online radio show, MUSICWOMAN, featuring women composers at www.blogtalkradio.com/musicwoman. Joan’s personal CDs are Feelin’ Good (1995) and In Pursuit of a Melody (2005). She owns MJTV Network with her daughter Mimi Johnson and she is actor in the sitcoms Last Man and The Siblings produced at www.mjtvnetwork.info. In 2014, Joan was honored in Atlanta, GA, as the first Lady Jazz Master. In 2016, she was honored as one of the Top 25 Women of Color in Business and Leadership by Legacy Magazine. She has two children (Michael Serrano and Mimi Johnson), five grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. She is retired from music performance and resides in Sunrise, Florida. Currently, Joan is a professor of Speech Communications as Southeastern College in West Palm Beach, Florida.

 

Diva JC Online:

 

Advertisements

How many musicians?

musicians1

In researching the number of musicians in the world, I found this information at these links:

On Being A Musician

Musicians are at the top of the food chain.
The farmer’s child becomes a teacher.
The teacher’s child becomes a doctor.
The doctor’s child becomes a lawyer.
The lawyer’s child becomes a musician.
Our responsibility as musicians is to bring the message of peace, love, hope and joy into the world.
Do your job and you will be duly rewarded.
Love and music,
Diva JC
954-740-3398
Divajc47@yahoo.com
www.joancartwright.com

3rd Chakra Positive Visualization

Positive visualizations happens through the Third Chakra and this is why your brow aches when working on the grants, projects and other ventures because you know you’re letting go of SMALL MINDENESS and success is your TRUTH. So, you are bringing your REALITY into EXISTENCE.

The Brow Chakra is associated with the color indigo. It is also often referred to as the third eye or the mind center. It is our avenue to wisdom – learning from our experiences and putting them in perspective. Our ability to separate reality from fantasy or delusions is in connection with the healthfulness of this chakra. Achieving the art of detachment beyond “small mindedness” is accomplished through developing impersonal intuitive reasoning. It is through an open brow chakra that visual images are received.

Identified by Yoga as ‘the seat of the Soul,’ the famous Third-Eye Chakra (or energy-center) is located in the center of the FOREHEAD or brow; and is associated with SPIRITUAL TRUTH. Anytime one must resolve issues of what IS true on an absolute or philosophic level, this Chakra may become ‘stressed,’ leading to pain, abnormalities of hearing, vision and/or psychic phenomena.

Have you ever had a thought and turned around only to have it happen right before your very eyes?

And I’m not talking about dejá vu, here. I’m talking about something you are fully aware of thinking at the moment, even if it was a few days before. It happens to me all the time. Enough so that sometimes it’s downright scary. This chakra, the Brow Chakra has the ability to think reality into existence, when it is in balance. Intuition and positive visualizations are propelled into the world through this Chakra.

Spirit Talk

What’s the value of being a musician?

On Friday, I had a conversation with the son of a well-known percussionist in Miami. This young man’s career path was toward financial planning. His aspiration was to be a doctor, although he’d spent his youth pursuing music with his father. He’d watched quietly, while his father struggled with the disparity of income suffered by so many musicians.

Tachaka told me that, after being successful in investment banking and other financial endeavors, he realized that, if he had to do it all over again, he would have been a musician.

“It’s all B.S.,” Tachaka assured me, “but music is real!”

What do you see as the value of being a musician?

See my book, SO, YU WANT TO BE A SINGER? A manual for up-and-coming Divas, Musicians and Composers. http://stores.lulu.com/divajc

A manual for up-and-coming Divas, Musicians and Composers

What about women musicians?