In this episode, Ciyadh talks about what it means to be considered a performer and other facets of a performing career that she wants to explore.
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[00:00:00] Hello, welcome to this episode of musically cogitating, a podcast about the relevance and importance of living in contemporary music of all kinds and about how that music impacts our everyday lives. I. And your favorite podcast, host Ciyadh Wells. Thank you so much for joining me here today as always any relevant and important links are in the show notes and.
[00:00:34] Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. The show has now surpassed more than 750 individual downloads. And that is a really big deal too. Me, because I never thought this many people listening to the show that many times. And so it's really awesome. And I'm really grateful that [00:01:00] you all have been on this podcasting journey with me and that you're willing to listen to me and my guests talk about music and kind of, you know, music adjacent things.
[00:01:14] And so I really, really appreciate it. And thank you to everyone who also reached out to me after the last episode and had some really positive things to say, when you're doing a solo podcast, you're never really sure how things are going to land or resonate with people. And so it's good to know that in fact, you all are listening and that you're enjoying it and that it does resonate with you.
[00:01:44] So if you have feedback positive or. Negative slash constructive feedback for me about the show, please, don't hesitate to get in touch. You know, you can send me an email, you can comment on a picture. You can send me a DM anywhere, you know, kind of where I am, mostly Twitter and Instagram [00:02:00] and yeah. Get in touch.
[00:02:01] If you're also interested in being on the show, that's also a way to get in touch with me. I would love to talk to anyone about. Music and art and about how, you know, those two things kind of impact our everyday lives. As I always like to say today, we're going to continue with the series on career exploration, and this will be the third installment in that series.
[00:02:30] And today we're going to focus on performing and. Similar to, you know, the kind of the last episode, these are just going to be some thoughts on what my life has been like as a performer, which I've talked about many times, but this is really kind of really narrowed in, on performing. And also just some other thoughts that I have about.
[00:02:56] What it means to be a performer who can or cannot be [00:03:00] considered a performer in all of those types of things. There are so many different ways that performing happens or there's so much that is involved with performing that. Is really beautiful and that is kind of visible, but on the flip side of that, there's a lot of misinformation out there about what it means to be a performer and especially the idea of music and art being professionalized.
[00:03:28] And there are some preconceived notions out there that I kind of just want to talk about. And I think. That are really important to me. It's something I'm always, always thinking about. And so that is, you know, part of, of what I want to share with you today, similar to teaching. You know, performing is such a visible part of art making it's because, you know, not all the time, but [00:04:00] oftentimes when we're performing, we're doing it for people and it's really visible and we just.
[00:04:07] We have a lot of thoughts about it. We have thoughts about, you know, is this thing that I'm watching or listening to? Is this song entertaining? Is it bad to be someone who entertains, which is, which is probably a whole separate topic in itself, right? Like the process of understanding art as entertainment and art as something entirely different.
[00:04:35] So. That's what I'm going to kind of talk about today is just performing, being a performer, what it means to be performer and all that in true fashion of the show. I'm going to start with kind of how I define. What it means to be a performer and also the, the act and the art of performing and performing for me is the intentional act [00:05:00] of making a thing.
[00:05:02] In this case, I'm going to refer to making music, and sometimes I might say art, but so I'm using art and music. Interchangeably here, but it's, it's, that's where I really simple definition. It's simple. There's no frills. If you start thinking about doing something about making music, about making art and the intention is there that you'll make the thing, then that is performing to me, performing doesn't imply the presence of an audience.
[00:05:29] Although for some, it may, some people will say, you know, it's not a performance. If, if someone didn't see it. Yeah. It's like that meme that used to be out it's like take pics or it didn't happen, which I totally still say to people sometimes, but you know, performing is not that someone can have performed something and it had been a really beautiful and intimate thing and there are no pics, but that doesn't mean that it didn't happen or maybe no one was, was really present.
[00:05:58] But again, that doesn't mean [00:06:00] to me that it is not, uh, It is not a performance for me. It's the making of the music as an intentional, informational, informative space to make art that makes it performing a performer is the person who. Of course in this case makes the music or the art. And now we live in a time and an age where some people might call this person a creator and that might be great for them.
[00:06:37] I don't always referred to myself as a creator. It's not something that I really identify with all the time, although sometimes I totally have, but that's just me. I like to often refer to myself. In the context of the thing that I am making. So, you know, I make music as a guitarist. I write [00:07:00] blogs, which you should check out the podcast blog in my personal book, uh, I make podcasts.
[00:07:06] So I'm a podcaster, but some people will say, you know, all of that is content and I was listening. To another podcast, of course, before this. And they were saying that they feel as though the term kind of content creator, muddles, what, what art is it? What they were saying? Is it kind of simplifies or, or takes away the importance of having called.
[00:07:33] Something music and it makes it less important because you've called it content. It makes it less intentional because you've called it content. And I don't necessarily agree with that, but I like to think of the performer as the person who gets up there with the intention of sharing, of making the thing of making the art of, in some cases, being in.
[00:07:58] Entertaining, [00:08:00] but not always, but some people, like I said, we'll call performers creators and use them interchangeably performers sometime performs for others. And sometimes they perform for themselves. And I truly believe that anyone can be a performer. You can be trained to be a performer to make art, to share it.
[00:08:21] You live in it to have it in the world for it to be in this space. And I don't really. Believe that as a performer, it needs to be based in anything. Other than that, I don't think you have to classify a performer based on their level, how long they've been practicing their art, how hard they've worked or anything like that.
[00:08:43] I think if you make the thing and you share it even, there's just that you share with yourself or your cat, then to me, you're a performer and you're a performer who performs their art. It was all sort of goes back into. Again, how people call themselves [00:09:00] musicians and everyone defines that differently.
[00:09:04] And I think we need to be more accepting of how people define that. So that'll, it'll also be something that I talk about here and anywhere else that I talk about this subject, but there are kind of like two groups. Of thinking that I've noticed there, there are surely more, but group one kind of thinks that in order to call yourself a musician, you have to have studied for X number of years with X professor at X institution and, or have spent 10,000 hours, which is what.
[00:09:41] They say is gonna make you like really great at your art, or you have to have been self-taught, but somehow you suddenly became a musical genius. And then group two thinks that if you make music in, you can cut. Then you can call yourself a musician, which again [00:10:00] is where I fall. And I think, you know, whatever matters to you is how you can define it.
[00:10:06] But this again is just how I'm kind of. Always thinking about things and it takes, it took me a long time. I was on a really personal journey to understand, and to help for me, help myself to define how and what it means to be a musician. And, you know, some people will say opposite. They'll say like these two camps that are these two groups of people don't really exist.
[00:10:34] It's not really like that. And that's totally fine. This is just my perspective. We should all think differently about this. And hopefully we're all able to get to a place where we continue to respect and acknowledge our differences of opinion about this particular. Uh, topic my journey to being a performer.
[00:10:56] I detailed it in the second episode of the [00:11:00] podcast, which will be linked, but I talked about it like in really, really a great detail, but I've been performing since a young age and. You know, since then I've really wanted to do, was to make art. And sometimes I do that in front of people and, and in the last year have kind of learned that sometimes I can take a leave the people part, you know, like the, doing it in front of people, but yes, the audience is important and.
[00:11:27] I do want to make music for people and in front of people again, cause that's the, the, the, the relationship with the audience is an important part of that. And so, you know, I really meandered my way around in music until I sound the guitar. And I've kind of stuck with that. And early on, I just knew that I wanted to do that.
[00:11:49] And so I pursued that in the best way that I knew how and the way that I did that. And continue to do that, I think has worked for [00:12:00] me, but that, of course, isn't the only way. And I wish that. You know, in, in big C uh, capital, sorry, and capital C Costco music, where I spend a lot of time. I wish that more people would talk about this.
[00:12:14] Like not everyone who plays in an orchestra or a chamber group or insert. Costco ensemble type here has gone to music school or studied with that special person or heard all of the symphonies or memorized every part. And of all the symphonies that they should have heard or is great at reading music.
[00:12:33] Although in entry you can say like, those things are kind of part of the job and it is, but also in music and art, like we create the job. So it really doesn't have to be part of job unless we make it and we've made it purposefully that way. Probably to, to be prohibitive, to lead people out, to, to keep people marginalized.
[00:12:54] And so Costco music doesn't have to be that way. Art, a lot of art isn't that way, but a lot of art [00:13:00] is that way. And, you know, the journey to getting to where I am to where you are, if you are an artist or where you see people who are artists is, is all very different. And we put so much time and energy into deciding, you know, what is our path going to be?
[00:13:22] To performance, who will we study with or where will we go to college? And yes, if you want to do those things and that's important to you in the moment then yeah. People were reading your bio and though they'll think maybe a certain thing of you that you went to a certain school. And then there are going to be people who read your same bio and have no idea who went any who or what any of that means.
[00:13:48] It won't matter to them. And that's totally fine too. So it's really up to you to, you know, determine how you feel and how you see that from your perspective as a performer, but also as someone [00:14:00] who consumes the art, but the journey. Is what's most important, you know, deciding that at a really engaged, I was going to pursue music, whether that meant that I was gonna, the only thing I pursued or that there was going to be the something that I pursued in addition to, you know, was really important to me.
[00:14:21] And it was a journey and I'm always going to be on that journey as a performer, as someone who performs for people. In public and everyone's journey is different. So, you know, you'll see someone and true this, this still happens to all of us kind of, you know, we're like, oh, I'm jealous of that person.
[00:14:45] Cause they went to X and Y school and it's like, yeah, that's cool. And unfortunately, people do. Take into account pedigree and like this weird lineage thing that people have in [00:15:00] classical music. So I know I was talking to someone yesterday and they said that they knew people who had tried to trace their musical lineage or heritage back to Beethoven.
[00:15:12] And that's so weird. Like no one really cares. And so again, we're all, we're all on this journey and, you know, It's hard not to get caught up in that, but at the end of the day, right? The most important thing is that we've made good art, good to being good to the person who may or may not be listening. And it'll be good to you.
[00:15:38] What may be good to you? It might not be good to me. Totally fine. I want to now talk about the. Professionalization of a music performing career. And for many years I've worked really hard or did what I thought I needed to do to become, or to be considered a [00:16:00] professional musician by the standards of myself and what I have been taught.
[00:16:04] And also by that of others. And there are no hardened invest definitions on this again, but you know, some will say that in order to be. Considered a professional musician that. If you make any kind of income from any kind of gig or show or performance or whatever, it could be a $10 type of gig. Anything money is money.
[00:16:27] And that, that makes you a professional. Some will say that a certain percentage of your income makes you a professional. Some will say it's how often you're performing is what makes you a professional. And some will say it doesn't matter. None of that matters. You don't get to be called professional until I call you one.
[00:16:47] And I being, you know, whoever is thinking that some say it's about how good you play, or what is your sound like or any number of things that make you professional. There's also this idea that [00:17:00] some people are what they call it, eczema semi-pro and I don't off, I don't really use the term semi-pro to define, like, if someone's a pro or not, It's just how it is.
[00:17:16] And some people will say like, well, you're not a pro until you're done studying with X person. And again, I think that's a really poor way to define what it means to be a professional. And I noticed that a lot. In the classical world and this idea of like needing to define someone as a professional, there's just constant need for people to do that.
[00:17:39] And for people to be able to describe themselves. And it's because people want to have arrived, right? Like some people have been working since they were. Four years old and they wanted to be professional musicians since then and their parents did. And so they did everything that they possibly could in their power to make sure that when they grew up, they were going to be a [00:18:00] classical musician.
[00:18:00] And there's nothing wrong with that. But we spent so much time. Pudding and asserting those labels on other people. And I don't think that that's really a healthy way for our community to be and continue. And I don't think it's a way for people maybe who aren't a part of our community, but who, you know, are, are really moved and entertained by what we do either.
[00:18:25] And I think for me, it's the idea and the intention that. Being a professional musician just means that you want to. You enjoy it. It's, it's much more to you than something that you do every once in a while that you don't really pursue in any sort of, kind of formal way. And it's re it's really difficult in the classical music community.
[00:18:59] And, [00:19:00] and they, I think in the music community in general, because there's this idea that. Being a professional means that you're able to play or do certain things and that you sound a certain way. And then when you don't, people will say like, you're not a it professional. They'll talk poorly about you.
[00:19:18] They will not give you any gigs. They will essentially attempt to revoke your professional card. And I don't think that that is good. I don't really care what other people think. And I don't care to define it for other people either. Um, so it's like, Yeah, people-wise me. Are you a full-time artist? And I feel like I make art full-time so I'm going to say yes, even though the majority of my income is from a music adjacent job, I guess, is what you can call it.
[00:19:51] Um, I still aspire to, to make more money, uh, you know, to be able to continue to feed [00:20:00] myself and my family from, from art and from performing primarily. But I really enjoy the things that I do as well. So. It's it's totally okay for me in a perfect world. Yeah, we would. All of us, you aspire to do make all of our income from performing would be able to do so, but we don't live in a perfect world and I am pretty content with all of the avenues by which I've chosen to make money.
[00:20:35] Deciding that you don't want to earn money from a career in music though doesn't mean that you don't have a career. It doesn't mean that you aren't professional. If you are considered a pro, then you are, and there are going to be people who don't acknowledge that, which is terrible and other issue. But, you know, if you believe it and you tell people that, and they see you and you [00:21:00] know, you really, really embody that, then.
[00:21:04] That is going to be fine. And you know, as we're exploring careers here, I'm going to be performing until I can't perform anywhere. So I'm just going to continue to do it, how I can, how I know best be on my journey and go on my Merry little way. One of the parts about, uh, kind of like performing career, especially a professional performing career that I really enjoy is playing music with other people.
[00:21:32] And I've been in a handful of bands in different kinds of. Groups and sorry, I get and tumble just not account, uh, but you know, being in choir and things like that. And I really love. Playing music with other people, probably as much as I enjoy playing solo, there's something that's really fun about making music with other people.
[00:21:54] You know, you're, you're being on you're on the same wavelength. You have a vibe, something that both of you [00:22:00] all kind of are, are matching. It's. It's some of the most important music that we, as people who listen to music know and love, right? It's made by groups of people, there's community, there there's, there's something intentional about it.
[00:22:16] And it's something that makes it really different and really worth it. And yes, as much as I love playing with people, I do enjoy playing solo and as a classical guitarist, You are really expected to mostly play solo. It is sad how little emphasis is put on what it means to be a good band member or collaborator in music school for the, for the classical guitars.
[00:22:41] It's, it's very bad. In fact, I think there are a lot of classical guitarists who never play with other people. I think they're really missing out on what is essential to the music making process and sure they can do they want, and yeah, playing solo is great too, [00:23:00] but you have to have this ability to be a.
[00:23:06] So voice in a single communicator. And in, in that moment when you're playing solo and some people don't do that as well as they might think that you do. So ultimately, a fulfilling musical career fulfilling performance career for me is both. Playing solo and playing with other people like in IDEO and in any of the other kind of artistic ensemble band, things that I do in the future.
[00:23:39] And I think that you can tell a lot about a person by how they play with other people. So I'm not here to judge people's playing ability really. But I do think that you can tell if someone is a great communicator or not, by how they communicate with others in a band or in a group or in any NGOs [00:24:00] kinds of settings where they're playing with other people.
[00:24:03] Sure when you're playing in a band, uh, in a group, it doesn't always go, well, some nights are bad. Sometimes things just don't fall the way that they need you, but there is that potential there. And that's, that's really important too. And in the same way, That I envisioned myself continuing to teach in some way.
[00:24:23] And like in the first episode of the series consult in some way, my future and current career looks like some of, of all of this. It's, it's an artistically fulfilling career that involves many, many things, but there's still something more that I'm hoping to explore and to get into when it concerns.
[00:24:48] Performing. And I will say that I'm pretty happy with what I've been able to accomplish so far within, you know, this classical guitar, music space and everything, you know, I've, I've [00:25:00] worked in school and I've done stuff and going to concerts and festivals and you know, I've done what they say that you're supposed to do, but.
[00:25:09] I want to play other kinds of music. I want to play other genres and styles of music and Jamie and I, my geo partner, we're talking about, you know, this the other day, and now in other types of art forms and in another, you know, like broad genres, there seems to be less of a barrier and. Less of an exclusive exclusivity.
[00:25:33] Um, when you want to crossover into another style of music, you know, like people don't make fun of you or, or maybe, I mean, and of course people have things to say, but we were referring to some authors that we both. Are really big fans of, and how, you know, one day they're writing a nonfiction book about closing schools in Chicago and the next day they're writing a middle grade [00:26:00] fiction book.
[00:26:00] And the next day they're writing a book about slavery and, you know, like I want to be able to just play music and to do that in many, many genres. So that's something that I'm, I'm hoping to explore and do more. And in classical music, this is of course, just my observation. You're not really supposed to do that.
[00:26:22] You're actually told not to do that. I remember I, this was many years ago, but I was telling one of my teachers like, yeah, I play acoustic guitar sometimes with people in mobile. And they were like, no, you're not supposed to do that. And you know, like that person lives it. I know I'm not gonna get into that, but all I have to say is that that's not the way that I believe that it should be.
[00:26:51] And glass, when you say that, it's kind of like you're supposed to play the same music that you were doing when you were four, when, you know, until whatever age you are now [00:27:00] and that's supposed to be it. And people will kind of like say things and make fun of you behind your back. And they'll say you're not a really good musician because you couldn't quote unquote, make it in this genre.
[00:27:11] And again, I don't. Really cared that much about what other people think. I just want to make AR and I want to perform for people. And yeah. So that's what I want. I want to do more of that. I want to do other styles and types of music, and I've done that in the past. And it's just something that currently it's kind of challenging because.
[00:27:31] Yeah, so many things are going on and in my life, and it's hard to get to that, but I really do want to start getting back into playing with the band and really diving deep into jazz and playing that and other styles of music. So that's kind of what I really want to. Explore career-wise, uh, especially in performance and [00:28:00] I don't, you know, I don't know exactly what that'll look like, but maybe it looks like I'm a singer songwriter.
[00:28:05] I don't know. Maybe it's kind of an Americana thing. It's a little jazz ish. Uh, although I would say probably more jazz than ish. Um, But that's what I want to do. And that's just, I just want to be an artist. I want to make our own performance for people. And I want to be the original maker of, of the art and not, not only the person who, who plays it.
[00:28:33] And I think of course, like me as a performer who plays music that other people can pose is a really important part of my art and my practice and my journey. But, you know, I want to do some other things and, and that's, that's, stuff's interesting to me, and that is cool. So whenever that stuff does happen, of course you will be the first to know about it.
[00:28:56] Um, but yeah, I'm, I'm excited to talk about that more [00:29:00] and to explore that more from the perspective of a person who has like. Pretty typical, uh, classical music training and to kind of see where that goes. So that's where I am with my performance career and just general thoughts and ideas around performing.
[00:29:26] So. This is a show about music. Like I just talked about and something for you to listen to this week, the music recommendation of the week is mama by Sarah Rose. And I've known about Sarah Rose. Like. Uh, for a while, of course she's super popular and she recently released a new album. I want to S you know, and so I was listening to it and I was just like, oh, this is, this is so good at to share with people, which is kind of how those things are.
[00:29:58] And [00:30:00] so, yeah, that's the recommendation. It is going to be linked directly in the show notes. And it's also going to be added to the podcasts, Spotify playlist. Don't forget to follow a podcast on social media and the website. We also have a newsletter, which you can subscribe to you where I send updates and some additional stuff about the show.
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[00:30:41] It's a really cool thing. Uh, I'm hanging out there as well. And so you can follow the link in the show notes to leave reveal pat chaser as well. You can support the podcast by buying a coffee or a book using the support, the show link in the show notes. So that's all I have for you today. [00:31:00] I will be back in two weeks with the next episode of the musically cogitating podcast until then.