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Playing with Pros


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#1 Mickeyboro

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 04:25 PM

If you are a semi-pro in a band with a former professional musician, how do you relate to them and vice versa?

I ask as I have recently spent/wasted four months putting together a band with an ex-pro keyboardist whose musical abilities far outshine mine. I pushed him as the musical director, but he stubbornly refused to direct; instead, he'd spend hours on the phone moaning to me about the shortcomings of our bandmates, who were rotated in short order. We finally found people he could tolerate, though the complaints continued.

Then the phonecalls stopped, and I now realise he was bending someone else's ear about me! Then came the email: 'It's not working, is it - everyone thinks so. I'm not the leader...' You can say that again.

I now wish I'd tried to be more proactive in the rehearsal studio to fill the vacuum that so frustrated me. In future, I'll not be nearly as deferential. And I'll not be so available on the phone!

Any parallel or more heartening tales?
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#2 Trueno

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 04:30 PM

I wasn't you, it was him. Pro or not, he sounds like a knob to me.
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#3 paul_c2

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 04:38 PM

With the numbers of members who have recently left, is it possible to "do a Sugababes"?

#4 ped

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 04:41 PM

Most of being a professional musician is your attitude. I think Lionel Richie said 10% aptitude 90% attitude.

#5 chris_b

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 04:47 PM

Don't blame pro's. This was only him.
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#6 dood

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 05:17 PM

Yes, doesn't sound very 'Pro' in all definitions of the word.

#7 EBS_freak

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 05:25 PM

"Ex pro"

Maybe there's a reason behind the ex...

#8 mikel

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 07:14 PM

As above, the definition of a true pro is there attitude. The guy sounds like a dick.

#9 pmjos

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 07:58 PM

Don't be put off. The label 'pro' just means they don't have a proper job like all the other bass players in the world. There are dicks in every sphere of life. If on the other hand you/other members couldn't keep up then its a lesson to go away and practice. All positive.

#10 pete.young

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 07:59 PM

View PostEBS_freak, on 06 September 2017 - 05:25 PM, said:

"Ex pro"

Maybe there's a reason behind the ex...
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#11 lojo

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 05:18 AM

The hardest thing about putting a band together is finding people who gel , not finding people with enough musical ability. This guy sounds like he is not a viable band member regardless of musical ability .



#12 scalpy

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 05:51 AM

Sounds like you've been unlucky. Granted I've played with one or two like that, but most of the time it's quite the opposite. The one example that comes to mind is a rehearsal where the number was a proper blitz, loads of changes and finished with this meltdown. We hit the last note and it was silent for about 10 seconds. Then the trombonist asked 'the quaver in bar 27, do you that staccato or broader?' I guess what I'm trying to say is that they do all the basic things right, with a complete absence of fuss.
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#13 Steve Browning

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 05:52 AM

View Postped, on 06 September 2017 - 04:41 PM, said:

Most of being a professional musician is your attitude. I think Lionel Richie said 10% aptitude 90% attitude.

My late father was an ex-pro musician, He always summed it up brilliantly (IMHO). He always told me 'an amateur practices until they get it right, a pro practices until they can't get it wrong'. To my mind there is no other difference.

I am an ex-pro myself and the first time I had the great fortune to play with David Gilmour was before I turned pro. He never asked me what I did for a living. It's just how you earn the money to pay the bills, nothing more. I certainly don't draw any distinction between a pro or otherwise myself and if David Gilmour doesn't either then that's good enough for me.
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#14 Drax

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 06:44 AM

My brother is a pro keys player - 95% of his working life is travelling or hanging around waiting. His view has always been successful pros are the ones you're just happy to hang out with.

He's got a many bitter 'pro' acquaintances who are continually bemoaning why X or Y got a particular job when 'they're no better player than me' - not really getting this bitterness is part of the issue.. Sounds like the OP's 'pro' is in this camp.

Edited by Drax, 07 September 2017 - 06:48 AM.


#15 bazztard

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 07:34 AM

there is probably a very good reason why he is no longer a 'pro' .........I think we know what that is hehe
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#16 Burrito

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 08:16 AM

I have both pro and ex-pro members in both my bands. It has caused me to raise my game and hasn't been an issue. Recently one said to me that I may not be pro but I was "pro attitude" which I took as my biggest compliment. It may be @OP that it just didn't click or it may be that he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

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#17 jazzyvee

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 08:42 AM

Im the only non pro in my quartet and my only problem is getting gigs where they are all available.
Other than that all is cool.
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#18 chris_b

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 09:07 AM

I have played with pro's and ex pro's in most of my bands.

Pro's can be some of the biggest idiots out there. Attitudes, neurosis and hang-ups all over the place, but find the good ones and you get a higher level of ability, attitude and focus and they will be a joy to play with. The bad ones will filter out and won't get the calls.

At least with the pro's you don't expect to have to explain or teach. As a species they just turn up and 100% deliver.
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#19 Jus Lukin

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 09:39 AM

Ah, the old 'pro' word again. I was reading about a speaker cab with 'professional' connectors recently!

It has been taken to mean so many things (pro quality gear, etc), but really does just mean that the person in question plays for a living, for better or worse. Not to take away from the compliment you recieved, Burrito, but presumably the guy meant that you play well, and take a good approach to all other aspects of working with a band or artist- your financial situation doesn't really come into it, or take away from the quality of your contribution if you have another job. Many of the guys in bands we know and love have another job, and some losers like me can get away with just playing, for the time being, at least!

One of the finest players I know (keys) is a copper, but he's a knockout player. His family keep him working a reliable and well paid job, so he is an amateur- no reflection on his playing. One of the shakiest is a drummer, who plays for a living. He has a reputation for his bizarre playing and eccentricity, but keeps the pennies coming in. He is able to keep good 'pro' players around him, because he is able to pay them well, and if you are relying on playing to pay your way, sometimes money has to talk. He is a pro- no reflection on his playing!

One thing which still plays on my mind, and is related to the original topic- I was working with a touring show for some years, and each of us was playing full time for a wage, so were all technically 'pro' at the time. I wasn't happy with the quality of all aspects of what we were doing, and felt the standards should have been higher. Being the kind of guy to welcome constructive criticism in music, I shared my opinions, sometimes frustratedly, with the band in the hope that we could collectively pull our socks up. Despite the sometimes uncomfortable nature of the discussions, I felt that was the right thing to do. The general feeling in the band however was that things came out the way they did, we had our flaws, but best to just carry on regardless for the sake of a smooth ride, with a bit of (IMO) disingenuous self-congratulation to grease the wheels.

Going back to the, again IMO, less accurate use of the word, whose attitude was more 'pro'? The guy who wanted the highest standard and was willing to push a bit for it, or the guys who were aiming for the most effortless route through a pretty arduous schedule of shows?

I still don't know, but there was certainly a mismatch of approaches going on. And just in case anyone's going with the whole 'breadhead' image, I left that very lucrative job because I needed to be playing music I was happier with.

Nevertheless was I being a dick for putting quality above camaraderie? Where they dicks for not using the opportunity to be the best we could? Were any of us being dicks at all?

Edited by Jus Lukin, 07 September 2017 - 04:14 PM.

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#20 Number6

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 01:09 AM

Our guitarist recently got laid off and is on the dole. Does that mean he's Pro now?
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Posted 09 September 2017 - 01:29 AM

I've never really understood the term 'pro attitude', or why people assume that a professional musician will have a certain personality.

They're pros because that's how they make their living.

My brother is a professional car mechanic, that's how he makes his living, as opposed to someone who does it as a hobby. He's reliable, friendly and good, but he knows an awful lot of people who only share a few of those attributes, some none. My mom was an accountant until she was forced to retire, that was her profession.

From my experience I've met professional players who've been amazing musicians, others who've just been very average, but they still manage to make a living in their particular niche. They're people, and their personalities vary as much as anyone else's.

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#22 Burns-bass

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 06:25 AM

When I used to claim mileage allowance for cycling this classed me (in my mind at least) as a professsional cyclist.

I've played and recorded with professionals, was semi-pro for a while and it's all the same.

It's the same as a sense of humour, if you have to demand a pro attitude it's likely you don't have it.
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#23 SpondonBassed

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 09:04 AM

View PostMickeyboro, on 06 September 2017 - 04:25 PM, said:

If you are a semi-pro in a band with a former professional musician, how do you relate to them and vice versa?

I ask as I have recently spent/wasted four months putting together a band with an ex-pro keyboardist whose musical abilities far outshine mine. I pushed him as the musical director, but he stubbornly refused to direct; instead, he'd spend hours on the phone moaning to me about the shortcomings of our bandmates, who were rotated in short order. We finally found people he could tolerate, though the complaints continued.

Then the phonecalls stopped, and I now realise he was bending someone else's ear about me! Then came the email: 'It's not working, is it - everyone thinks so. I'm not the leader...' You can say that again.

I now wish I'd tried to be more proactive in the rehearsal studio to fill the vacuum that so frustrated me. In future, I'll not be nearly as deferential. And I'll not be so available on the phone!

Any parallel or more heartening tales?

Yes. I wasted two months. I asked the chap that runs a nearby Open Mic if I could record his set to practice with on my own and then be able to drop in at will on the quieter nights for practice. We arranged to meet at his. He assumed I wanted tuition and tried to impart a lot of stuff that was, frankly, a distraction from getting on with our aim.

Okay. I can accept that I need tuition. It is quite different from wanting tuition though. I told him that I wasn't going to re-embark upon a training in classic notation but he could not grasp the concept at all. I went with it for a bit and learned a bit on the way and he started giving me exercises for home work! As tuition fees are dear and he was happy to take a mere twenty off me for two hours of his time I went along with it.

One week I turned up at his for what had become the regular Thursday session and he'd bailed. Not in to a knock at the door. No answer or returned call on the 'phone. I suppose he finally got the message and binned the idea of me becoming some sort of student of his.

I never got my recording.

A pity. No great loss to me however and no-one fell out over it.

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#24 mentalextra

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 10:18 AM

View PostNumber6, on 09 September 2017 - 01:09 AM, said:

Our guitarist recently got laid off and is on the dole. Does that mean he's Pro now?

It means he's now fully committed to his music career and available for any and every opportunity (apart from every other thursday at 10am) :D

#25 Dad3353

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 10:23 AM

At least you weren't swindled out of your gig money. It can happen if you're playing with Pros and Cons. :mellow:

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#26 SpondonBassed

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 11:14 AM

Professional (prə-fĕshˈə-nəl)
adj.
  • Of, relating to, engaged in, or suitable for a profession: lawyers, doctors, and other professional people.
  • adj.
    Conforming to the standards of a profession: professional behavior.
  • adj.
    Engaging in a given activity as a source of livelihood or as a career: a professional writer.
I thought I'd remind myself what the definition of professional is these days. I mean, we accept that there are people who call themselves professional dog walkers for gawd's sake. Large numbers of them are unqualified in anything past A-level, if that.

Now to look up the definition of Semi...

Edited by SpondonBassed, 09 September 2017 - 11:15 AM.

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#27 bubinga5

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 01:32 PM

I'm sick of male chickens like this. Really put me off trying to form a band of any talent or great laid back attitude . I would much rather jam, then I know I can have fun, but be able to walk away. That, and most of the bands are Rock tributes.

Edited by bubinga5, 09 September 2017 - 01:33 PM.

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#28 SpondonBassed

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 08:17 PM

View Postbubinga5, on 09 September 2017 - 01:32 PM, said:

...male chickens...

Nicely put.

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#29 mentalextra

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 09:13 AM

Is the point at which you become a professional when you register as self employed with HMRC?

#30 Jus Lukin

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 10:12 AM

Definitely not in the case of some! :D I know a guy who doesn't even have a bank account!

I may be going about it the wrong way, but my self-employment has been flexible over the years- for a long while I worked both as stage crew and a musician, with some driving thrown in too. It all went into the same total sum to be taxed.

I don't really go for the whole 'pro' thing, as like acting, it can be such a transient thing. I love to play, and I'm just grateful that it's all I'm invoicing for for the time being. I'm always prepared to start typing them out for some menial tasks again whenever the need arises!

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