music, technology & life in pasadena, california

Keep Your Head Down

Many times when musicians get together, they start comparing notes. How's work? Where'd you work this week? Who was on the session/concert? Who played (insert your own instrument here)? What inevitably follows is the realization that you didn't get called for the gig in question, followed by questions that haunt and a slight realignment of your place in the pecking order. Even some of the best and most workingest players fall into the above trap...players look in from the outside wanting to get in, and the ones who are firmly established keep checking to make sure no one is gaining on them, all of which makes for a very un-creative and paranoid-ish approach to work which should essentially be joyful.

Sure, it's understandable. No one wants to invest 10 or 20 years only to find themselves on the outside because someone new came along, and young people resent a field closed by an insurmountable can't-get-in-until-someone-dies wall.

But there's one approach that seems to elude many otherwise wiser persons. Just keep your head down and do good work. Day after day, and night after night, find the pleasure of doing a good job in and of itself and the rest will come.

I'm reminded of the well-known MacArthur Grants, the so-called Genius Awards that are given annually to people in diverse fields. The awardees don't even know that they are being considered until a phone call announces the award. Were they looking over their shoulders or bemoaning the fact that someone in their field had won a major award in the previous year instead of themselves? I doubt it. They just did the work that was important to them, the work had its own purpose, it needed to be done.

Keep your head down and do good work.

February 17, 2009 | Link to this entry


Paul Viapiano is a guitarist working in film, television and live performance based in sunny Pasadena, California.

You can email me here.

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