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Why Working As A Guitarist Is A Harrowing Experience…

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Guitarist Anthony Mancini talks about being a working guitarist and why it can be a very harrowing experience.

Making a living as a working guitarist has always been a harrowing experience. Most that do it would posit there is simply nothing else that we could do or we would be insistent on doing that instead. With the increasing addition of the role of technology in music via social media and streaming, the dearth of compensation for music is ever present and yet there are still many musicians doing it full-time. How?

Discussing how others do so would be conjecture at best, so I can only note what I do and how I continue to do it and how that falls into my defined role as a working guitarist. As I am interested in such varied aspects of music, the nature of my work is a product of that diverse set of interests. I play musicals, bars, corporate events, churches and record for wildly different kinds of projects as a function of my work. Others choose to specialize and hone a set of skills for jobs wholly dependent on those skills. Either choice is valid, but choose early in order to set specific goals that are obtainable and you will not waste time that many do, myself included.

Did I learn that in school? No, but I learned how to learn. That was the expensive, yet worthwhile lesson that made going to university worth it. Your professors do not know how to do everything and it is not their job to do so. The great ones I have had showed me how they would start learning something given they did not know it before. I was taught to learn concepts in abstraction. It allows for them to be learned thoroughly and to be useful creatively which is wildly important. I spend time considering whether the investment of time on a thing will get you closer to achieving the aforementioned goals. If it doesn’t then you are not going to get better at the thing, and is sometimes then not worth doing. I am of the opinion that sounding “bad” is a function of growth that can be useful. Find someone doing what you actually want to do and learn from them instead of full-time teacher. Of all of this, your mileage will vary and that is one of the most beautiful parts about this whole thing. Progress can be slow but the act of learning and refining is something I look forward to doing everyday for the rest of my life as a working guitarist.


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