I've finally hit the wall - NO MORE GIGs on my calendar!
Updated: Nov 26, 2020
For the first time since COVID-19 started in April 2020, I find myself like so many of my other musician brothers and sisters, having absolutely NO upcoming gigs. Times are really tough now for many individuals and families who are either business owners, those who are self-employed artists or those out of work otherwise. The lack of funds is causing us all to cut back on food and other basic necessities of life.
I've had this conversation with a few of my die-hard musician buddies and I'd like to share my top 10 (+1) list of things I plan to work on now that I don't have gigs (or money). Hopefully some of them will work for you too:
1) Envision the path to becoming a better ME: I believe it was Teddy Roosevelt who said "comparison is the thief of joy". That means, you'll always find someone better if you look for them or by comparing yourself to others constantly. I'll work on my own musical goals that are exclusively for ME.
2) Build or revisit a REAL practice routine: With no gigs pending, I'm no longer crushed to learn 2 or 3 sets of music over a weekend. I'll use this time to work on rudiments, timing and coordination (sort of like scales for others).
3) Listen to recordings or watch videos of previous gigs:
It takes a tremendous amount of time for me to review hours of video from past performances, because I have to do it in real time. I'm sure there's probably a faster way to do it but I don't know of any. Anyway, having more time and not gigging each week will allow me addition hours to review my previous performances - good and not so good.
4) Break down the barriers of my own instrument (drums): I keep reminding myself that I'm not a drummer - I'm a MUSICIAN. As such, I have the same creative mind and spirit as a sax, piano or violin player. I'll consider exploring or noodling around with my bass or guitar a bit to experiment with musical ideas from another perspective. It'll be fun!
5) Work on being a better chameleon: As an artist, I have found that musicians (or drummers) that are a good "fit" for a gig, tend to get recommended highly for other gigs. I'll plan to work on developing the various genres of music to improve the diversity of my grooves. There's lots of go-go here in DC. 😁
6) Read some music or charts: I learned how to read music a long time ago but I seldom need to do so for gigs now. Having the ability to read has opened some doors for me professionally and I need to maintain this skill. I plan to take a look at a few tunes (new and old) to maintain my proficiency. Sight reading requires much practice and I have just about lost that skill. 🥁
7) Play with other musicians: Okay - if not in a live setting, I'll do so from YouTube or from other sources that provide "drumless tracks". JamKazam and a few others are also a good option if you're connected online already.
8) Become more technical:
Speaking of being connected online, the additional time will allow me to get more comfortable with my new Studio One DAW software. Much creativity can come out of playing with drum tracks and user-provided drum loops.
9) Get a checkup and handle preventive maintenance: Since drums are very physical instruments and are literally hit thousands of times during a season, I'll use the extra time to take care of any maintenance items, like loose screws, worn heads and tarnished cymbals.
10) Look out for the other guys/gals: The additional time will allow me to network and reconnect with friends and family. A few musicians faithfully meet twice each week on video calls that are sponsored by Raymond of Magic Ray Jazz, but several don't. I'll make an attempt to connect with those who we don't hear from too often to see how they're doing.
11) Tweak my website and update social media: I could almost hire a person to teach me how to keep my digital repertoire relevant and fascinating. I'm not very good at maintaining my stuff and it's not what I would call super interesting but there is plenty of good music to be heard by all at my site. I can certainly put some time into working on each platform a little each week.
Even with COVID going on at full blast, I'm still required to report to work and put in 40 hours of hard labor each week, so I don't have unlimited time to work on these; however, I now have a plan to continue to work in a positive way to make the best use of not having any gigs on my calendar. My goal is to be an even stronger musician by the time we all start playing again.
Hopefully, this will catch on and others will create their own short list of 3 or 4 options to ponder and work on. Maybe we can even compare notes and encourage each other?
Take care and check in later to see how well I'm sticking to my to-do list.