Music is an artform and like all other forms of art, it boils down to a person, or persons, putting their soul on display and inviting critique. Whether it be music, painting,  sculpture, photography, literature or dance, it involves someone doing something that is precious to them and readily accepting praise or criticism for that something.

The art world is full of disappointment, from mild angst, through to spirit-crushing criticism and as a musician, I have experienced the whole spectrum. There has been self-inflicted frustration when learning my instrument. Moments when I simply couldn’t make my hands do what I wanted or when I struggled with exercises given to me by my tutors or peers. There have been times when I had to turn down a gig or tour due to personal or logistical reasons and there have been times when I have been rejected for a position because I was too old, fat, bald or white (yes, really).image

I have recently had to resign from a post within a studio due to many factors outside of my control and I felt very disappointed so it got me thinking about how thick my skin is and whether I find it easier to brush off at this stage of my career or whether it had less of an impact on my younger, cock-sure, brazen self?

If you fail an exam because you didn’t put the work in, that’s disappointing but understandable. If someone fails to live up to YOUR expectations of them, that’s disappointing but not always their fault. Dealing with disappointment boils down to understanding the reasons behind it and whether there was anything that you could have done to alter the situation.

Let’s bring it back to my experiences. If I don’t land a gig because I’m too old (becoming more often nowadays) there is little I can do about that. The same with being too tall, too bald or too white. The music industry these days is all about image and visuals. You won’t see old guys backing Kylie anymore than you’ll see kids backing Rod Stewart. The visuals have to match the artist and that’s just the way it is. I have also been rejected from a gig because the artist wanted a “rainbow coloured band”. Myself and the drummer were replaced by 2 black musicians so it seems that racism is acceptable in the music business.

As disappointing as these events were, I could cope with them as they were criteria outside of my control.

If I lose a gig, session or tour because I feel that I’m so good I don’t have to try and so turn in a poor performance, that’s unacceptable. I have recently heard the same comment from 2 young vocalists who individually used the expression “I don’t have lessons anymore, I’m at the top of my game.” This makes me sad. I have been playing now for 34 years and I’m STILL learning. I still pick up tips from other pros, students and musicians of all standards and levels. Every time I go for an audition, session, regular gig or dep show, I turn in the BEST performance I can to ensure the band leader gets an accurate impression of me and my abilities. If I don’t get the gig, then I can say for certainty that it must’ve been a reason outside of my control. If my track doesn’t make the final cut, I’ll know it wasn’t for the lack of trying. There are so many reasons why a muso or a performance doesn’t make the final product.

The studio job I recently resigned from was probably the most disappointing experience of my career BUT I can say that it was for reasons outside of my control. Sometimes you’re simply NOT the guy….