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Is it time for me to quit?


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jojocat
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2016 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cantusemyrealname wrote:
jojocat wrote:
I have only one question:

are you happy in your life in general, I mean outside the trumpet thing?

I always have the alarm that lightens up when a guy call himself a looser.

Take care of yourself, no matter if it is with or without the trumpet. Make all that's possible to be happy.


Don't worry man it's all good, I'm just being dramatic. I mean, I do feel like I've failed in some ways especially since I've been given every advantage and worked as hard as I could for a long time and still couldn't quite get to my goal with the horn. But, I know that doesn't make me a loser in general. Continuing to chase after and make sacrifices for a goal that I just can't achieve would make me feel pretty dumb though.


Good.Thanks for updating
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Hags888
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2016 8:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Is it time for me to quit? Reply with quote

[quote="cantusemyrealname"]Or, maybe I'm just a loser who can't face the idea that I've failed and should just move on. Often I have depressing thoughts like “why try?

So, what should I do? Should I just quit and let others have my gigs? Should I keep on keepin' on until I actually stop caring? Should I cut my losses and move on? Looking for input especially from people who have been down this path. Thanks for your time.[/quote]

I don't know you, or your situation and therefore I'm hesitant to even post a reply. But I think many of us have been in your shoes, wondering if the goals we set for ourselves are too lofty. As an outsider looking in, it sounds like you've had great success in your trumpet career, and I'm sure many would be envious of what you've already achieved.

On the other hand, if you're unsatisfied with those successes, ask yourself why? What were you expecting to get out your trumpet career that you're not getting now? Why did you have those expectations and who put them there, and why?

I'm in a similar position career-wise as you, and I found that sometimes it was difficult to transition from being the one that is entertained and inspired (like we all were in school or with our teachers), to being the one that entertains and inspire others. If the work you are doing is not inspiring you and is unrewarding, perhaps you should work harder to inspire the ones around you. You may be surprised at what they give back to you. And if that doesn't work, who knows maybe it is time to move on. Ultimately, you are the only one that can answer your own questions.
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Athos
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 5:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Short answer: The best way to find out if the shoes fit is to try them on.


After some professional setbacks in the mid-90's, I quit the trumpet. The frustration and emotional trauma was too much for me, and I decided something different would be better for my psyche.

That lasted for almost two weeks. Then I just had to pull the horn out and play some Charlier. It felt so good and so right, I knew what I had to do. Although my primary employment for the next year was not in music (I was management-track in a retail store), I played every day.

For me, it ended with a job I love in a great orchestra, but quitting the trumpet gave me the answer I sought: I had to do it, no matter what. If the answer had been different, I could have quit without regrets, aside perhaps from the student loan debt.

Just a thought. Your results may vary.
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laser170323
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 6:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your post concerns me. You wrote a lot of things that are typical signs of depression. It's obvious you're hurting. Terms like "not caring", "loser", "lost interest", "rather stay home and eat candy", etc. worry me and imply more than just a mid-life crisis. I'm not a mental health professional, but I've had family experience with clinical depression. (I'm not being flip about this either.) I strongly suggest you discuss this first with your doctor (GP) to get his opinion. He might send you somewhere else, but I'm sure he can help more than a bunch of trumpet players on TrumpetHerald.

This is just like the advice so often given here at TrumpetHerald: go get a lesson from a professional rather than seek advice from us here in an internet forum.

Stay well.
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dfcoleman
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 8:03 am    Post subject: cantusemyrealname Reply with quote

You are to be commended for being honest with yourself and with others. EVERYBODY has a right to their own feelings and emotions, and it sounds like you have done a pretty good job of sorting through yours.

A couple of thoughts that I hope help:

1) If one looks at music like a business, the the first logical business decision would be to find a new business. Even on a high level, it's unstable, populated by crazies, the travel is often brutal, and the lifestyle can be horribly unhealthy.

2) it sounds like you love to play, but everything that surrounds playing is pretty disappointing for you. I feel the same way. I often feel that music is not really a profession, just a bunch of gigs, some short-term, some long-term, some good, some not-so-good.

3) please don't be offended by this, but you need to see a pshrink. You sound like you MIGHT be suffering from depression or some other issues that need to be assessed and treated by a professional. If you make an appointment and they say everything is fine, then so much the better. But I pick up on a few warning signs in your post that should not be ignored.


That's it for me. Best wishes...for what it us worth, I have found myself feeling almost exactly as you do, and managed to work through to a more positive end.
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cantusemyrealname
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To people concerned for my mental health, thanks. OK I'll go see a psychologist in case I'm depressed. Honestly I feel happy most of the time, but I wonder if it's a "frog in boiling water" scenario where I've become depressed slowly over time and haven't noticed it.

I do remember being extremely excited about music and the trumpet. I remember being proud of my achievements or good performances and so deeply interested in all things trumpet-related. I don't feel that way anymore, but I'm not sure if that is just normal or a part of getting older or what. Sometimes I pull the trumpet up right before the first note of a gig and think "what am I even doing? This is for kids." Has anyone else been here?

Honestly, it wouldn't surprise me if I were depressed, but in that case it seems like a majority of my fellow musicians are also depressed. I think there are a lot of us out here with low levels of job satisfaction and crappy financial situations. I'm just grateful my day job has me in a good situation, because the other musicians I know who are just scraping by are not often happy campers.

Thanks for all the replies, it is helpful to get your perspectives. I appreciate it.
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Turkle
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cantusemyrealname wrote:
Honestly, it wouldn't surprise me if I were depressed, but in that case it seems like a majority of my fellow musicians are also depressed. I think there are a lot of us out here with low levels of job satisfaction and crappy financial situations. I'm just grateful my day job has me in a good situation, because the other musicians I know who are just scraping by are not often happy campers.


Well, this is sort of the nut of it, isn't it? Being a professional musician these days is often 1) a constant, frenzied hustle, 2) degrading, 3) boring, 4) a huge hassle, 5) not nearly lucrative enough unless you're in the top whatever percent of players. That leads to depression - not in the medical sense, but in the sense that people feel sad when they feel that they're not getting a fair shake!

Musicians shouldn't have to starve, but a combination of 1) the total evaporation of funding for arts following the last financial crisis, 2) the age-old problem of the synthesizer, jukebox, and DJ all but eliminating demand for live music at parties and bars, 3) the elimination or defunding of music programs from schools in favor of sports, "STEM" education, and standardized testing, and 4) rapidly rising real estate prices in urban areas, making living in areas that actually have bustling music scenes all but impossible - have all conspired to undermine the economic prospects for professional musicians of all skill levels.

It's a perfect storm out there, and it's not getting better anytime soon, which is why I'm super glad I have my day job and play my "weekend warrior" jazz gigs!
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TrumpetDan79
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you are hitting a point in your career that is more common than you might believe.

I believe you really need to reflect on what you love about this whole thing. Are you SURE you don't care about what you're playing, or is it a combination of your location, rep, gigs, etc? In my opinion, those are merely elements that you can easily change if you want.

I'm going to admonish you for a moment, so please forgive me.

You said: "Or, maybe I'm just a loser who can't face the idea that I've failed and should just move on. Often I have depressing thoughts like “why try? Those orchestras are going to be out of business soon anyway.”

WHY are you so concerned that "orchestral career= your worth as an artist?" (This is a very common question I ask American players in their mid-careers going through what you are).

I went through this myself years ago, by buying into the idea that if you aren't playing in a big orchestra, then you must be a second rate trumpet player, not as talented as the next, yada yada.

I was OBSESSED with orchestral this and that, while I was in college. I felt that being an orchestral meant you were a step up over other people as trumpet players.

After my own frustrations combined with an absolutely AWFUL experience in my undergrad and 1st year of my masters, I went to Chicago and freelanced for a year. I didn't have much success because I wasn't getting called.

Know what I did?

I QUIT. I was BURNED OUT. I felt hopeless and worthless. Depressed indeed.

Six years, man.....no sound came from my bell. Nothing. At first, it felt like I was FREE, liberated, like I had the "right" to go do other things. I was out of the trap. However, year 2, year 3.....the regrets started....and kept growing. I began to feel WORSE as non-trumpet artist than I ever did while I was "battling the monster." I just became a working stiff, taught a little bit. A cog in the wheel. I was miserable. I LET those people who DIDN'T believe in me, WIN. I'm still ashamed of that.

After that 5th year....my wife told me, "YOU are going back to finish that dam* masters degree and get off your as* and DO something with this. You're too good to not be doing this."

So. I went back at the age of 34 and finished my MM.

Guess what happened after that?

I found myself going to Chosen Vale with Edward Carroll. I went a COMPLETELY different direction. I went from vanilla-orchestral-dime-a-dozen-player, to SOLOIST. Not exactly a great one, but I LOVE IT. EVERYTHING about it!! In years past, it was something I loved to do, but never was serious about it. A year into my comeback, I played with all my energy. I found success. Last year, I did it again. More success. I'm ADDICTED.

Now, all of sudden, I'm traveling, I'm competing in International Competitions, I'm studying with the GREATEST players on EARTH. Something I NEVER imagined I would be doing. And I've forged strong friendships with absolutely wonderful people, and we are all CRAZY about what we do.

I realized the world of playing is MUCH BIGGER than what I gave it credit for. Know where I was and where I am now? I was in NOWHERE Kansas, man. I just moved to Los Angeles in mid-October.

It's surreal. It's like a dream come true. And I'm nobody special. No big name, not the greatest talented player you'll ever meet, but I LOVE WHAT I'M DOING. Heck, I barely am working right now, but that leads me to my next point:

My 2nd admonishment is YOU MUST CREATE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES. We just can't rely on others to do anything for us. Man, go put on a recital, go play for more people that have nothing to with what you usually were involved in. Record yourself as a demo. Enter a competition. Do SOMETHING to get you away from the drudgery of what you hate most.

I don't think you need to quit. And I CERTAINLY don't think you've "failed." LOL, that is just fatigue talking. THINK about ALL the hard work you've done. ALL the sacrifices you've made. Is it worth throwing all that away?

It's time to SEARCH for your next evolution. You aren't done yet, and you know as well as all of us that this is a LIFETIME dedication. There will never be an arrival point, never a time where you'll be comfortable. If you ever DO find yourself satisfied, comfortable, proud, THEN that is the time to retire. Because you stop growing. So...

You must become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I have no idea if any of what I'm saying is helping or hurting, but I wanted to let you know that sometimes there are ghosts like me out there urging you to not make the same mistakes.

Best to you,

D
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lipshurt
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

yes, time to quit
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lakejw
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cantusemyrealname wrote:
jojocat wrote:
I have only one question:

are you happy in your life in general, I mean outside the trumpet thing?

I always have the alarm that lightens up when a guy call himself a looser.

Take care of yourself, no matter if it is with or without the trumpet. Make all that's possible to be happy.


Don't worry man it's all good, I'm just being dramatic. I mean, I do feel like I've failed in some ways especially since I've been given every advantage and worked as hard as I could for a long time and still couldn't quite get to my goal with the horn. But, I know that doesn't make me a loser in general. Continuing to chase after and make sacrifices for a goal that I just can't achieve would make me feel pretty dumb though.


You may be experiencing somewhat of an identity crisis, which is not uncommon for creative professionals after leaving grad school, and is also common to athletes, dancers, et cetera, after "retirement". Either way, checking in with a mental health professional may help you sort some of this out. It's not a matter of being dramatic; everyone has problems, and we all need to take care of ourselves.
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BGinNJ
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would say you're lucky (after lots of hard work and persistence, I'm sure) to have gotten as far as you describe with the trumpet. You're even more fortunate to have a home, good job, etc. There are lots of musicians who've sacrificed that to be pros.

It sounds like you're young enough, and have options, that you could do something else and not gig anymore. Lots of people here just play for fun.

It's your life, you're free to try other things. You already know what you'ld be missing. That is far better than people who never gave themselves the chance, who put away the horn and pursued "sensible" careers, only to wonder "what if?".
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ShrubTrumpet
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TrumpetDan79 wrote:
I don't think you need to quit. And I CERTAINLY don't think you've "failed." LOL, that is just fatigue talking. THINK about ALL the hard work you've done. ALL the sacrifices you've made. Is it worth throwing all that away?

It's time to SEARCH for your next evolution. You aren't done yet, and you know as well as all of us that this is a LIFETIME dedication. There will never be an arrival point, never a time where you'll be comfortable. If you ever DO find yourself satisfied, comfortable, proud, THEN that is the time to retire. Because you stop growing. So...

You must become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I have no idea if any of what I'm saying is helping or hurting, but I wanted to let you know that sometimes there are ghosts like me out there urging you to not make the same mistakes.


Wow. Thank you for this. I'm not OP, but this really resounds with me and where I'm at in my career.

Much respect for your journey.
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NordicNorm
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 12:40 pm    Post subject: Re: Is it time for me to quit? Reply with quote

cantusemyrealname wrote:
So, what should I do? Should I just quit and let others have my gigs? Should I keep on keepin' on until I actually stop caring? Should I cut my losses and move on? Looking for input especially from people who have been down this path. Thanks for your time.


Although I'm not a professional player, I'd say the best thing you could do right now is to take a break from the trumpet. You are exhibiting the classic symptoms of burnout.

Pack everything away, out of sight and pursue activities that bring you joy and restore balance to your life. Try volunteering in your community.

You certainly appear to not lack in discipline, so if you do decide in a year or two (or three, or ???) to come back, you would not have any difficulty in re-establishing your playing ability.

Sometimes it is only once we walk away from something that we rediscover what it was we loved about it in the first place

Good luck and remember: life's too short to waste it on doing things that don't bring you joy.
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mhenrikse
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 6:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Is it time for me to quit? Reply with quote

If you are getting up there is age, would like to get seriously into another hobby because you can't remember not practicing and want a new world to open up, want to spend time with your family, have another good career and don't need the money, know that you will never play better gigs in the future than you did in the past (not going anywhere), then yes, quit! The last job I played was subbing with the Baltimore Symphony at age 47. Once I got away from it, I didn't sound so good so it was easy to make other things a priority.
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muranternet
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually OP I think this sort of self-examination shows more rational thinking than depression. To be a full time professional musician, especially on a physically demanding instrument, requires a certain level of obsessiveness or (don't hit me) a lack of options. In most cases the money is not good at all compared to the effort. In order to get that money you may have to play a lot of gigs that just aren't musically interesting, if that's one of your prime motivations. Playing a bunch of 4-hour weddings with the same songs, over and over, in an environment where it doesn't really matter if you play well at all can be heartbreaking if you have any motivation beyond liking the physical act of playing the trumpet. Same for many pit orchestra gigs, oldies swing bands, whatever... you can easily get to the point where picking up the instrument is no longer fun, and the only reason to do it is because you have to make that effort so you can continue not making enough money to lead your life the way you want to. Not playing anymore is a perfectly viable option and may be the best for you.

Now the downside: the idea of working a regular job and playing stuff at the same level on the side seems reasonable but it's not. When you play the trumpet full time every waking moment is on the job. Playing the gig, practicing to get the gig in the first place, playing one-shots to meet people to network into other gigs, warming up, warming down... it's the life. The thing is when you're in the life you are spending more time than you possibly can "on the side" playing your instrument. The laziest practicer in the life has more face time, music time, and experience day-to-day than the most dedicated hobbyist. In most cases, this means your skills degrade, and you won't be able to play with the caliber of people you want to (and since you're not meeting them at blues bars or merengue clubs, you won't have the opportunity anyway). You still have the memory of playing with great players, even if you don't have the same skill set, so you may run into disappointment (or, if you're an old school perfectionist, outright rage) in an off-tempo, out of tune, no-matter-how-well-intentioned amateur group.

So does quitting the life mean you failed? I don't know; does a guy who changes jobs or careers fail? Probably not. Your job now seems like it's perfect for you, and spending time with your kids instead of hustling to go play Easter gig #14 is a choice you can now make, and given that you are making that choice it's the right one for you.

I'd say ease off. If you like playing, keep the gigs you want and can maintain, like a church thing or a reading band or a small jazz group, whatever you enjoy enough to make time for. Drop the stuff you don't enjoy. You have a good opportunity to quit the life without quitting the trumpet completely if you want that, since you already have established gigs. That's a much better position than quitting completely and then picking up again after years away from the scene.

Basically, do what makes you happy.

Edit: I know I use a lot of references that may not apply to a specifically orchestral/chamber/solo player but the philosophy, I think, holds across genres. It's about being a working trumpet player.
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Seymor B Fudd
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2016 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TrumpetDan79 wrote:
I think you are hitting a point in your career that is more common than you might believe.

I believe you really need to reflect on what you love about this whole thing. Are you SURE you don't care about what you're playing, or is it a combination of your location, rep, gigs, etc? In my opinion, those are merely elements that you can easily change if you want.

I'm going to admonish you for a moment, so please forgive me.

You said: "Or, maybe I'm just a loser who can't face the idea that I've failed and should just move on. Often I have depressing thoughts like “why try? Those orchestras are going to be out of business soon anyway.”

WHY are you so concerned that "orchestral career= your worth as an artist?" (This is a very common question I ask American players in their mid-careers going through what you are).

I went through this myself years ago, by buying into the idea that if you aren't playing in a big orchestra, then you must be a second rate trumpet player, not as talented as the next, yada yada.

I was OBSESSED with orchestral this and that, while I was in college. I felt that being an orchestral meant you were a step up over other people as trumpet players.

After my own frustrations combined with an absolutely AWFUL experience in my undergrad and 1st year of my masters, I went to Chicago and freelanced for a year. I didn't have much success because I wasn't getting called.

Know what I did?

I QUIT. I was BURNED OUT. I felt hopeless and worthless. Depressed indeed.

Six years, man.....no sound came from my bell. Nothing. At first, it felt like I was FREE, liberated, like I had the "right" to go do other things. I was out of the trap. However, year 2, year 3.....the regrets started....and kept growing. I began to feel WORSE as non-trumpet artist than I ever did while I was "battling the monster." I just became a working stiff, taught a little bit. A cog in the wheel. I was miserable. I LET those people who DIDN'T believe in me, WIN. I'm still ashamed of that.

After that 5th year....my wife told me, "YOU are going back to finish that dam* masters degree and get off your as* and DO something with this. You're too good to not be doing this."

So. I went back at the age of 34 and finished my MM.

Guess what happened after that?

I found myself going to Chosen Vale with Edward Carroll. I went a COMPLETELY different direction. I went from vanilla-orchestral-dime-a-dozen-player, to SOLOIST. Not exactly a great one, but I LOVE IT. EVERYTHING about it!! In years past, it was something I loved to do, but never was serious about it. A year into my comeback, I played with all my energy. I found success. Last year, I did it again. More success. I'm ADDICTED.

Now, all of sudden, I'm traveling, I'm competing in International Competitions, I'm studying with the GREATEST players on EARTH. Something I NEVER imagined I would be doing. And I've forged strong friendships with absolutely wonderful people, and we are all CRAZY about what we do.

I realized the world of playing is MUCH BIGGER than what I gave it credit for. Know where I was and where I am now? I was in NOWHERE Kansas, man. I just moved to Los Angeles in mid-October.

It's surreal. It's like a dream come true. And I'm nobody special. No big name, not the greatest talented player you'll ever meet, but I LOVE WHAT I'M DOING. Heck, I barely am working right now, but that leads me to my next point:

My 2nd admonishment is YOU MUST CREATE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES. We just can't rely on others to do anything for us. Man, go put on a recital, go play for more people that have nothing to with what you usually were involved in. Record yourself as a demo. Enter a competition. Do SOMETHING to get you away from the drudgery of what you hate most.

I don't think you need to quit. And I CERTAINLY don't think you've "failed." LOL, that is just fatigue talking. THINK about ALL the hard work you've done. ALL the sacrifices you've made. Is it worth throwing all that away?

It's time to SEARCH for your next evolution. You aren't done yet, and you know as well as all of us that this is a LIFETIME dedication. There will never be an arrival point, never a time where you'll be comfortable. If you ever DO find yourself satisfied, comfortable, proud, THEN that is the time to retire. Because you stop growing. So...

You must become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I have no idea if any of what I'm saying is helping or hurting, but I wanted to let you know that sometimes there are ghosts like me out there urging you to not make the same mistakes.

Best to you,

D




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markhyams
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2016 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cantusemyrealname wrote:
I'm also finding myself bored during concerts. I don't get nervous anymore because I've stopped caring about the music I'm playing. I keep thinking if I have a chance to play some better repertoire with great musicians I won't be bored and/or burnt-out.


This quote really popped out at me. If you are bored during concerts and don't care about the music, you have definitely lost your way. This doesn't mean you can't find your way again, but honestly your best bet is to take a break from trumpet and see how you feel. It might only take a few days to realize that you miss it, or it might go the other way.

As someone said before, you are exhibiting the classic burn-out symptoms. View this as an opportunity to further whatever your other career is, or explore other parts of life. Music is great, but there's a lot of other stuff going on in the world. Many people have multiple careers in their lives. Check out the book called "The Dip." It explores the benefits (and costs) of quitting.

A couple years ago I took a break that lasted several months. It was enough to get me energized and passionate again. Not that I'm never bored during concerts and that I have the perfect optimal motivation, but just know that what you are thinking is a natural process in the evolution of any career, and you are doing yourself a great service to examine your life at all.

Many people go their whole lives without asking any questions of themselves, and then when they are older, wonder what happened to their lives.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2016 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some wonderful answers here, kudos to the brass community:)

You sound like a true musician to me, you need it, whether its practical or not. So do your best to make it a part of your life. YOUR opinion is the only real one that matters, you know what level of playing you can live with yourself delivering, and you know how good you can be. So do that. Simple.
Fair play on having the humility to be so honest though.
Now get making some noise and enjoy:)
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reedman1
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Joined: 02 Sep 2013
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Location: Cold Spring, NY

PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2016 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two thoughts:
1. Can you remember what used to excite you about playing the trumpet?
2. Did someone say something that made you think negatively about your situation?
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HornnOOb
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Joined: 06 Jun 2010
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Location: East of the Sun & West of the Moon

PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2016 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Keep playing/practicing at your own pace and just keep your eyes and ears open for whatever floats your music boat. Don't pressure on yourself to perform or go in any particular direction. As others have said, be your own boss and walk you own path at your own rte. Be thankful that you have choices.
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