We all jump around.
Few people can do one thing for their entire lives.
I don’t know anyone like that.
We grow, we learn, then we move on.
It turns out, the world’s top performers, of every industry, have a music background.
They’re some of the best at what they do. They got the benefits of music and moved onto other things.
Does that mean you should quit music now? To move onto the bigger and better?
Wait, I’ll rephrase that.
Is it time to move on?
This is a question for all of us. Including myself.
Artiden was founded almost 4 years ago. Today, there are readers, a solid community, and blog posts. Some of my earlier posts are painful to behold, but to be fair, I wrote a different type of blog back then.
I keep those posts up because everyone tells me to (including Google).
Music used to take a lot of my time and energy; it inspired Artiden.
Since then, I’ve given away my piano students to the other good teachers in town. (I started teaching when I was 14, with 6 beginner students.)
I kept teaching… and started doing my own branding and business. People came to me for design.
I now specialize in functional design that helps people reach their goals. This also means that I help people build strong brands– and increase income. No one gets paid to do pure art, like make little clay statues or do digital drawings, by themselves all day. I’d get lonely if I tried.
Like most people, I’ve moved on from doing music everyday. I still play a decent Un Sospiro, but should my blog should move on, too?
Let’s quit music?
Before we quit, here are the top things that rock about the music world.
1. Music stays with you for a long time.
It makes you happy. It makes you smarter. It changes your brain, and the way you think.
And it brings you success. My former piano teacher, Carrie, sent me that link. I was delighted.
Doing music also makes me a better dancer.
I can’t forget that I am not good at rhythm. When I was trying to learn Rach’s Prelude #5 this summer, I had to count out loud, to make sure the beat was exactly right. If only I were purely jazzy inside and I didn’t care about the beat.
I’m not the best dancer, but I would’ve been dangerous if I didn’t play piano. When en pointe, if I fling out my leg at the wrong time, I could knock someone over and everyone would break their ankles like dominoes.
Those are some of my ballet buddies in the photo above; we had lots of laughs together.
One of the most practical things I’d gotten from doing ballet with those girls is Merde. That’s what it says on the other side of the card in the photo.
It’s a bad word to french speakers, but it means good luck to dancers. So I can always laugh if someone is angry at me in french.
2. Side stints are not useless.
Sometimes, we think it’s all or nothing. Unless you’ll bleed music, there’s no use doing it. That’s why people think the 4-year-old musicians will be crazy good when they grow up. That’s not true.
Even if you start later, music never leaves. Or, rather, you never really let go of music. So you don’t have to practice everyday, forever.
Just do it on the side. If you’re learning, then set a time when you can do it everyday, or every other day.
Paul Allen, the billionaire (co-founder of Microsoft), still plays guitar for fun.
I write about music, not because I think everyone should be performance musicians. No.
Few people will make a career that way, unless they are born with a trust-fund. Or unless they can compete with trust-funds.
Lady Gaga was born in a wealthy family. She is a good performer who didn’t make money for years, until she learned self-branding (be outrageous and wear colourful wigs). No one would’ve have lasted that long, the way she did (lavishly), without the money.
The goal isn’t to create performers; the goal is to understand music, learn the language, and apply it elsewhere.
3. You do things that non-musicians don’t do.
You think differently. You manage your own progress in a new area. Your brain makes connections that weren’t there before. You critique yourself before anyone else does it– then you learn to do it properly.
We also connect through music; we share one more common language.
I can write about anything in the world and come back to music and we’ll still have a common understanding. Remember when I was in the forest?
It’s a journey, and we’re all in for the ride.
I was ready to add a new section about design and business to Artiden. I did a reader survey. A new blog design with cotton candy colours. But Penelope talked me out of it. As a matter of fact, Penelope has background in music.
There’s an amazing community here rooted in music.
That’s why I will keep writing about music. It gives us meaning in a world that’s always changing.
Are you going to quit music?
Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.There are 37 comments below
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I did quit music. For quite a while. I taught preschool, worked in Human Services, and got a degree in Human Development. Then I opened a piano studio. It’s funny – for some people music is a hobby and for some music actually becomes a part of them they can’t live without. I used to love my Human Services job but I can live without it. Can I live without playing the piano? No way. As far as your question about giving up the blog? I hope you keep writing and asking the important questions. :) Christine
I love this, thanks so much. I blog for the conversation. That makes it meaningful.
Music is part of me and my life so I guess I’ll never give up on music.
My parents always kind of discouraged me from music, always telling me that my band wont be successful. I am contemplating quitting being that, its just too hard trying to do something you once found to be a fun hobby, now a dying business.
Phillip! I’m so glad we found each other. I want to ask you a question: Where do envision yourself in 5 years? 3 years? 6 months? Are you doing something meaningful, whether it’s performing or engineering calculations? This is the time to pursue your passion by making smart choices and stepping it up. You are human, you have the power to make things work. I just filmed my first interview– I don’t know what I’m doing because I’m usually behind the camera, not in front– but I’m featuring a successful performer who used to be an engineer. She performs and… Read more »
I failed music many times. I am passionate about music and have a lot of favorite composers, artists, and bands. The problem is that I am not fast enough and I struggle with complex chords. I want to compose and improvise but, my melodies are very cheesy. I want to play by ear and sight – read but I am not good at both and I struggle a lot. I do practice and I am taking lessons, but it seems that there is no hope for me. I was accepted at a University that teaches music and if there is… Read more »
Hey Jason, it sounds like you might not fit into the little box called Classical music. Have you tried other genres of music, like Jazz?
Also, don’t forget to think in baby steps. You don’t need to master all the complex chords in one day– you will learn a bit every time you work at it, and if you set the bar too high, you’ll find yourself going under instead of jumping over.
I listen to every genre of music, except hip – hop and rap. I am into Classical Music because I want to compose classical and do film scoring at Hollywood. I plan to be a music artist and release multiple albums in different genres (rock – death metal, jazz, pop, Japanese Pop Music, Eurobeats, etc.) I understand the idea of practicing slowly, repetition, and taking the metronome in small increments, but when it’s time for me to play fast, I can’t keep up. I understand that all the greatest people in this world, failed many times; but if music is… Read more »
Maybe you’re cut out for a different type of music than what you’re doing right now, or even a different role in music. (Who says we all have to play? We can teach, arrange, compose, etc.– you’ll find different experts in every area.) I find it more challenging to keep up a steady beat (Mozart) than something flowing (Liszt). With that being said, I can play almost all other genres of music because of the classical training. Perhaps you can use your own training as a springboard for your other genres, too. Don’t forget to make a Plan B that… Read more »
I play finger style guitar and busk regularly, I’m at the moment doing a bachelor of music. I just found out that I’m going to be performing solo at our next performance. I’m realizing that I am not cut out to do it. Maybe I should quit.
Cameron, yours is the first comment that made me tilt my head– I don’t see why you’re not cut out but maybe you can find a way to fit in as a performer while staying loyal to who you are. Quitting sounds so final.
I’ve recently reconnected to music. I’ve not played an instrument since childhood but I’ve rediscovered the joy that can come from listening to music. And the fun that can be had going to events that involve music.
I studied piano from age 4 through college. I quit when my back & shoulders started going numb when I played. Nobody around me was concerned or offered any solution, and the only times since anybody has been sad I don’t play has been when they needed something and I had to say no. I still have a piano and keep it tuned, but don’t do any music at all. I focused on visual art. My sister was a better artist than me, but she plays/teaches for a living. Funny how those things work out.
I simply never started! As I was growing up, my father was in hotel management which meant quite a few moves. It took me 13 schools to finish year 12 and at every single one of them I somehow missed doing music. Fortunately both of my girls did learn. Miss WW 18 was a very good violin player but gave it up when she got accepted into the Queensland Academy for Maths, Science and Technology where she did year 10, 11 and 12. Now she is at uni on her way to becoming a neurosurgeon. Unfortunately that type of study… Read more »
Your post is very relevant to my music life. I played saxophone from 5th grade through College and was a music performance major. I practiced 5 hours a day most summers growing up and became VERY good. Of course I got burned out and after college I got a normal job. BUT I can’t help but LOVE music. It really is ME. The great thing is I will ALWAYS have a certain skill set because of the music I studied. I will always have an eternal knowledge about how things fit together because of this. Music is always calling me,… Read more »
Hi Brooklyn! This is fantastic. I love that you haven’t let go of the music in your life; just because you don’t do it full-time doesn’t mean you have to cut it out. And you’re probably right that you’re learning faster– many studies are showing that musicians learn faster than non-musicians, under most circumstances.
I’ve never DJ’d but I’d love to try one day. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for reminding me of this. So many times I think I should just keep listening, but then people pull me back to play. It’s so important to be an actor and not just a spectator. Keep playing on!
In my early 30s, I completed a master’s in Fiction and now teach English at the college level. After doing that for a year, I started writing songs again (after years of playing guitar and singing purely as a pastime) and began recording in the studio and putting songs on iTunes. Now I have a full album of material, though no steady band, and I am capable just on guitars and vocals. Ever since my teenage years, I was discouraged from make a career out of music. Particularly, I was told I didn’t have a good voice even after taking… Read more »
We live in an interesting time– industries are transitioning to the digital medium and rules are being rewritten. In the digital world, you can create your own success. For example, I just downloaded a podcast from Alex Day where he talks about how he built a Youtube channel and skipped the record label. I think you can pursue music in out-of-the-box ways, that didn’t traditionally exist. You have your music. Why don’t you put it online? Share it with a few people, get a strategy to build an audience. That’s all there is, building your system. Send your music to… Read more »
Thanks so much, Grace. Great advice. At the moment I have four songs on iTunes, and of those, one is on YouTube. Could I send you the tracks?
Yes, go ahead. :)
I am in my late 50’s and just finished my first year of piano lessons. I’ve wanted to learn how to play since I was in elementary school and decided last year that it’s never to late to learn! I am having so much fun and get the biggest thrill when a “song” comes out of my fingers through the keyboard. :)
I love being a new member of the music family.
I am also in my late 50’s and started piano lessons 2 years ago. I do love it but sometimes I get
Frustrated because I can’t play a piece as fast as I would like to. It takes a long time
To learn a song. I am trying to practice very slow measure by measure now. That is a little better. I would be interested to hear about your practice and how long you practice and your strategy for getting through a piece. Please reply.
I’ve been playing violin in music school for 7 years now. I started playing before going there though, so I started my experience with music 9 years ago. I truly love music. Especially playing the violin, but as you become more advanced in playing your instrument, teachers expect you to do more and more performances. I’ve always been stressed before and when performing, and everyone says it will go away one day – but it seems to me that it only gets worse with each single time I go on stage. I have grown tired of practicing for so many… Read more »
It sounds like there’s a lot of pressure to excel, which is normal. Is music something you want to pursue as a career? If not, consider taking private music lessons from an independent teacher – you’ll get the music but less stress, and you’ll likely still be able to take music exams and sign up for performances or recitals. Also, discuss this with your parents; high school is a great time to discover passions and music could (and should) be one of these, but if you’re not thinking about this as a career, I’d explore other options. Like, I made… Read more »
5 years ago I had finished my music degree and was nearing the top of the field. I came second for a job with a state symphony orchestra and was playing as a casual musician with many state and opera orchestras in the country. But I hated being treated as disposable as a casual, and there were no auditions coming up for some years. So I left and retrained. I’ve been working in my new field now for 4 years and am happy and reasonably remunerated. However, my dream job just came up and there will be auditions held for… Read more »
Liv, how much is that one shot worth to you? Is it worth the time and effort? If you didn’t take that shot, how would that impact you? Because if you did, you’d have to put in 110% of what you have. That’s the only way it could work in your favour; it sounds like a job where people will be freshly trained out of school and you’d play catch up in addition to standing out. Also, are you sure that this is a job you want to have? I would look into job shadowing someone who is currently in… Read more »
I am in my late fifties, and have been playing live music for over 40 years. I love performing on stage – it’s where it all comes together. My wife and I play together, usually in a small band, she’s a drummer, I sing & play guitar. The sad truth is that live music is dying, being replaced with moronic 20-something DJ’s with technical know-how and no musical soul. Venues that used to support live music now either pay so little that it’s an insult to take a gig, insist that the band bring its own followers, or hire DJ’s… Read more »
Wonder if you need a fresh location to live in? I think any art form requires a stretching, mix it up maybe? I’m not qualified of course to say anything so please be patient with my message, it just sounds like there’s a passion there that you both share, and it needs some fresh air.
Wishing you the best! Never forget to be completely creative… Ever.
It’s always saddening when I hear of other musicians who go through this sort of cycle. Music is the kind of thing that can be frustrating because instead of things getting better for live music, things have gotten much, much worse. Gone are the days when a guitarist only needed to play guitar, or a singer only needed to sing. These days, working musicians are expected to be superhumans who can play every instrument, work the soundboard, etc… Generally, venues such as bars and restaurants would rather not have live music unless there is any money in it for them.… Read more »
The music business is tough. We’ve all heard that before. First and foremost it is difficult to support yourself as a musician. You might be super talented, but are you making enough to survive? I mooched off of people for years before realizing how messed up that is. I play little gigs in Austin for $50-$100 at bars. If I do that every day then I can survive, but it is a grind and soul-sucking. If you have a band you need money for rehearsal space. It also takes a lot of time off the stage for practicing. I used… Read more »
I am 20 now, and have played the cello since i was 5. I quit after high-school because i was fed up of the competitiveness and the intense practicing in the feild. I always knew i wasnt the best at playing by ear or playing fast, and that was very discouraging. I also felt that as a teenager practicing 3 hours a day, i missed out socially. I am signed up for graphic arts studies, which is an area i love. Recently though i started having a deep yearning for going back to playing music, and also for excelling at… Read more »
Lily, you are welcome! I wish you the best of luck!
I am a fulltime musician up to now. I perform and teach drums and piano, i really enjoy this job but there are times that i have a few jobs, sometimes none. And now that I’ll be having my first child, I’m thinking of quitting music and find a stable job.
I have been playing the bass guitar for 30 years. I toured the U.S. in an unknown band in my twenties. I took a detour in my thirties and went to Cooking School, got into Real Estate investing. Made a lot of money. Lost a lot of money. A few years ago, I started taking singing lessons and well, people seem to respond to my music. I went to a couple of music camps with a famous bassist and really re-committed to practicing hours (and hours and hours) a day. Problem is, I feel like I can truly just walk… Read more »
Next year I’ll be 70. I have played in dumpy bar dives to full stadium concerts over the past 50 years. I have retired when I turned 60 due to cancer. I still play once or twice a year for my retirement community. I had doctors, surgeons , high power people tell me that “they would give anything to do what I do”. I tell them they can, just give up your wife or wives cause they will not stick around due to your not being there for her and the kids cause of your music. Be ready to tell… Read more »
Hi there, Interesting topic, thanks.. So many unique personal takes on the comments. Encouragement is KEY.. Even a clap.. My momentum stalls when I don’t practice or play or strive.. But I’m hard on myself.. It seems if I’m not practicing guitar, I’m thinking music, then singing wacky tunes about my dogs or dinner and music is creeping out that way.. It doesn’t stop even if it holds me back.. ( me holding it back) I sure don’t need to be queen of the business, or have an ego trip or a person a to hide behind, maybe that’s the… Read more »