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--- Jun 13 2000 Go to category
Subject: achieving goals
Category: General Questions
From: Dan Palladino (New Jersey/USA)

Hi Pat, I'm a guitarist and composer and a huge fan of yours. My question may be unusual: Do you think that in order to achieve success in any facet of the music biz, you need to have recognition early in your career? It may be mid-life crisis time for me: I'm turning 40 this year, I picked up the guitar when I was seven, played in tons of different bands, went to Berklee, have been making a living with music for the past 15 years, yet I have not been able to get beyond the regional working musician level. Now I'm married with a one year old son and the odds of me giving up steady money playing weddings to go out on the road with my own band are slim indeed. In hindsight, I think maybe I should have concentrated more on writing than on becoming a better player. As you know, great players are everywhere--great writers are more scarce. I'm way too stubborn to quit, but it seems to me if you didn't make it when you were in your twenties, it ain't happening later in life. Do you agree? Thanks for all of the great music and knowledge.

Pat’s Answer:

hi dan,

to me, real success has always been more closely linked with the personal satisfaction that one gets out of playing music and feeling actual growth as a musician. i have always felt that the real reward of playing music comes with the insight and knowledge that an understanding of how music works and what it is brings to all aspects of ones life.

of course, it could seem a bit facile for me to sit here and say that - as a musician who has been fortunate to function in a way that meshes with the reality of this weird culture that we live in an effective enough way that i have been able to "make a living" for most of my adult life playing creative music. that makes me and the other .000001 of musicians who make up the part of the jazz community that tours and makes records a rarity - a fact that i am very aware of - and i wake up each day counting my blessings and thanking my lucky stars for my good fortune for the opportunities to grow that i have been given.

right now, in america, we live in a culture that is not only apathetic towards high levels of creative energy being directed towards music, improvisation especially, and there are times that it seems like this society is even openly hostile towards work in this area.

should you go on? absolutely. because in the myriad ways that music can enhance ones time here on earth, so will your life be enriched. you use the term "making it" - by which i know you mean something like making enough bread that you don't have to take a day gig, maybe getting some fame or recognition, etc. etc.

the only thing i can say is that i still believe, even in this bizarre world that we live in, that the power of exceptionally devoted and sincere musical effort has a good chance of resulting in an audience (albeit sometimes a small one) which again suggests the potential that with that audiences interest one could "survive". keeping ones musical spirit intact with a commitment towards a goal that is based on the reality of music itself would be a personal definition of "making it" for me. dues will be paid - but the rewards are worth it.