Ask Damian Erskine: Gigging half-heartedly?

Q: Have you ever felt, for any reason, like NOT doing a gig and if so, for what reasons?

A: Of course!! More important than the reasons why (there have been SO many), though are the ways in which it is possible to alter ones perspective so that it is not as dreadful.

I have been lucky enough to have kept my head above water for four years now after quitting all day jobs and JUST playing music. That also means that I have to take work I might not want to simply because I need the money. Even when I did work during the day, I would take most every gig I could for both money and just to play. If you ever feel like you’d rather do ANYTHING than play this gig tonight… consider this.

1. Even the most basic or crappy gig can be a chance to work on something. Sick of the blues and have to play a blues gig tonight? Try to only use 2 strings the whole time. Or try to use your thumb and index (plucking style, not slapping) instead of index and middle (but make it sound the same!) If you wish there was a challenge to the gig, make one for yourself! Play all night on ONE string!

2. Every-time I have a gig I just can’t believe I still have to take, I always say to myself that this DEFINITELY beats working a “real” job. Also, this “crappy gig” is going to pay my cell-phone bill this month, groceries, etc. I always joke that my mortgage is paid for $100 at a time (and it’s true!)

3. Honestly, if playing music with people is the worst thing to happen to you today, it’s a good day! Suck it up, Princess!! ;)

Truthfully, the way you feel about what you do is entirely up to you! Change your perspective of the moment and you can wind up really having some fun!!

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Have a question for Damian Erskine? Send it to [email protected]. Check out Damian’s instructional books, Right Hand Drive and The Improviser’s Path.

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Leave a Reply to Jason Parker Cancel reply

  1. Fantastic post, Damian! I truly believe that every gig is a learning and growing opportunity, no matter what kind of gig it is. Thanks for your most thoughtful and useful answer

  2. Fantastic post, Damian! I truly believe that every gig is a learning and growing opportunity, no matter what kind of gig it is. Thanks for your most thoughtful and useful answer

  3. John Vinter

    Well – I see this differently! A LOT of youngsters hotest dream is making a living playing music – they believe that is to be free.

    I used to make a living by playing music – but as Damian mentioned, even if youre amongst the best in freelancing, there are times when mortgage is coming up, and you don’t know how to pay. In that situation you will do as any other whore: Spread your leggs and let them have their way – as long as they pay enough! Is that freedom? Not to me! – And the solution is not jumping on my tongue while playing my tuba, or cutting the 4 strings on my doubble bass, playing the entire gig only on the last low B-flat string – to make the gig “interesting” – I love the music too much for that! – To me the solution is (and has been for many years) finding a “normal” dayjob (teacher/timberer/street walker – what ever feels good and pays the rent). – Being able to relax about the economical situation, knowing there will be money for the mortgage, next month, next year a.s.f. being able to play AND ENJOY as much music I like – AND when the phone rings about a “hooker-job” walking around playing jazz (for people who don’t like it) in all supermarkeds in the county, playing to introduce a new way of mincing pork, wearing a pig-costume – In THAT situation being able to respond: “I’m SO sorry – I havent got the time! ;-)” – Now see THATS freedom, and life quality in my world! ;-) … (Sorry if it got a bit long. :-S)