JJ Rocks Article: Will all the real musicians please stand up!
When I got up today I extended an outside water line so it could reach around the other side of our house making it easier to wash the car. I had to cut into a PVC pipe and add one of those T- joints so I could send it in another direction. That type of work of course is plumbing. So I can finally call myself a plumber. And once I built a dog house out of some old plywood and two by fours. Isn’t that carpentry? Well, maybe I should call myself a carpenter. I also know how to change the sparkplugs, gaskets, of radiator hoses in my car. So if you need a mechanic maybe you should give me a call. Oh yeah I almost forgot! I am also knowledgeable when it comes to putting bandages on cuts, using peroxide and taking someone’s temperature. Just call me doctor JJ!
If all this sounds stupid to you imagine how it sounds to me when I go to a gathering of people who are playing instruments and they all refer to themselves as musicians. Playing an instrument can be an incredible amount of fun but just because you can make it through a three chord song doesn’t make you a musician any more then doing basic repairs on my car makes me a mechanic. And that’s because to call myself a car mechanic I need to have a basic knowledge of what makes cars work. That also applies to the definition of being a musician. But sometimes I have been fooled into thinking someone was a musician. That is until I talked music with them.
Now for any of you fun players out there who are thinking that you have to be a Julliard graduate or a super hot player to carry the title in question, you are wrong. Just like the people in other professions, there are good ones and not so good ones. But most of them wouldn’t carry their titles if they didn’t at least have a basic understanding of their craft and how it works. But as many of you know, even the most basic of music principles like the intervals of a major scale are overlooked by many so called “musicians”. Now I don’t mean that they can’t play a major scale, I mean that they are just mimicking a tablature or playing what they hear on a recording. They still don’t know what the scale is made of. And some of you may think “Well, as long as they play it what’s the difference?” The difference is that they could never communicate what they are doing in any kind of musical terminology to another person. All they could say is “Put your fingers here and do this”. I'm glad surgeons don't communicate that way!
Yes I know, in most cases understanding music isn't a matter of life or death. I say most cases because I can honestly say that there have been many occasions when playing and communicating music in a professional manner was the difference between me eating and having a roof over my head or being homeless. Now that I think of it, it still is that way with many musicians. But carrying the “musician” title doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be professional and play music for a living. It’s much simpler than that. It just means that you have to know music, even if it’s only the basics. And not knowing what the “2” chord in the key of “A” is, definitely doesn’t classify you as a musician. And by the way, to the keyboard player that I played bass with at a local island beach bar a while back, B minor is the “2” chord in the key of “A”, not “B”.
So in conclusion, I would like to take off my hat to all the people out there (especially in St. Croix) who play instruments and have a blast with their friends jamming at beach parties or any other gatherings intended for everyone to have fun! Music is not just here for the players who want to learn all its internal workings and mathematical principles. It’s also here for the people who don’t care to know even the most basic fundamental elements and just want to have fun! But please remember that the title “Musician” should only be used by someone who at least knows the basics of music and not someone who just “mimics” sounds and licks from recordings. Because the next time that I hear that there is going to be a lot of musicians at an event on this island and I drive there and hear a bunch of people “just having fun” while trying to play instruments, I just might decide to show up at one of their doors saying that I’m a mechanic and offer to fix their car.
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