Finding Your Professional Musician Spirit

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What is the spirit of an professional musician? And do you have to be one to have one?

The usual definition of a professional musician is a person who gets paid for playing music. Simple, and true enough, as far as it goes. But most professional musicians would define it much more broadly.

Professional musicians know it’s not just about the money, although that’s certainly part of it.  It’s about attitude, life habits and choices.  Music is part of the life force of every musician, and professionals have made that life force their destiny.  In more down-to-earth terms,  it’s not just what they do, it’s who they are.

Perhaps you are one of those, as I am. Or perhaps music is part of you, but not with that level of intensity.  Whatever kind of musician you are, you can “grow” your professional spirit.  You can develop those skills that set professionals apart in the same way you develop your technique and repertoire.

Interested in what makes up the professional musician spirit?  Here are some of the most indispensable qualities:

A professional musician:

Makes time every day to work – to practice, perform, play, rehearse, teach.  Time is humankind’s most precious resource. We define ourselves by how we use it.

Shows up mentally and physically. Our art demands our presence, concentration and focus.

Persists. One more time, five more minutes, 100 more repetitions…

Desires to learn.  There’s always a new and interesting piece, fact, person, technique to explore.

Continually strives to improve.  That’s the beauty of making music; you get to make it again, and better.

Shares. We share with audiences, students and colleagues.  Communication is the essence of music.

Fears and does anyway. All life is a risk…

Would make music even if there was no money in it. And many have.

Share this post with a musician you love today.

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  • Iris Linkletter

    I am just getting back to music after a rather long leave of absence. Some by choice some because of Life but I always listened to my classical when I could and it was always playing in my sewing room or car.
    So I agree with most of this article but some of our neglect just has to happen because of what life is like right at that point of time or year or years, but I have recently bought into the thought loosely paraphrased from some olympic swimmer or coach:… you want to win you stay in the pool…..stay in the pool longer…
    My harp was my Christmas present from my husband of near 38 years and I take it as his vote of confidence that he wants me to “stay in the pool.” So I shall.
    I am enjoying your post Ann Sullivan, thank you for making them available for rank amateurs like myself.
    I hope you have a grand weekend. Off I go to swim a little longer..


    • Anne Post author

      I love that – “stay in the pool.” It sounds like you’re doing exactly that. Sometimes life does get in the way. The person who stays in the pool deals with it, and gets back on track. As you are. Congratulations!


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