Drum Set Education Resources
Dumb Things People Say To Musicians
There is one trepidation I have about social gatherings, particularly when I don't know a lot of people present. It's not just the small talk - after all, strangers have to start somewhere. It's the tendency of things people say when/if they find out I am a musician - when a person gives you that "Oh that's so cute" vibe and you see it coming. The lines below represent more of what people who would say them reveal about themselves.
"So...what's the name of your group?" In of itself, this is not a bad question whatsoever but it's when you answer you have not been on television they look at you with that look of "Isn't that cute?" mixed with some unsolicited sympathy. The implication being your legitimacy is premised on immediate commercial recognition. To remedy this I say that I am in the group Oingo Boingo (John Hernandez, forgive me). Although I have been thinking of trying out "MonkeySnot" (emphasizing it as one word) to answer this question. Who says a musician is in only one group or not also a solo performer? Ought we retort by asking the name of the company for which they work instead of asking what they do? And as they confirm their company is not in the Fortune 500 we can give them that Sunday afternoon glazed-over look as we say lazily, "Oh...that's nice"?
"You must have a lot of groupies."
This kind of curiosity is commenserate with an ice-pick labotomy. It tells you more about a person's motivations for approaching a job as an artist. Because I embarked on this journey of developing my craft in drumming and perpetually hustling to land paying gigs so that I could be pre-emptively renown for having lascivious proclivities. Damn straight. I shagged your sister, so what - you wanna fight about it? I'm a musician, man!
"What is your day (real) job?"
This one used to be perhaps the most annoying inquiry but then I read Bill Bruford's Bill Bruford The Autobiography where he wrote about getting the exact same question at his wife's gatherings even after his long list monumental music achievments. I figured if Bill still deals with it I can "roll" with it. I understand if a person does not know a musician can make a living without being a renown commercial novelty - but the disbelief that a musician can make a living without having to be a commercial novelty indicates one knows nothing of self-employment or entrepreneurship. This is exemplified by their insanity of living for a pension they're never going to get.
"You must love not having to get up early."
Do people say this to hookers?
"You must love the flexible hours."
What in hell is felxible about having to be somewhere on time to earn money regardless of the time of day?
"Well at least you're doing what you love to do."
Yeah and musicians also have to make an effort to not hate themself for it. I could almost see where this one started out as a nice idea but... You see, the constant ravenous hustle that is required, the absolutely unfair wage and time requirements...yeah, something more has to carry you through this - but no, it doesn't make it okay because I love to play drums, it actually makes it worse. Would I say to someone who works in HR, "Yeah the pressures of your job are soul-sucking and the higher-ups in your company have the ethics of a low-level demon but at least you love working with people."?
I never hear truths like: "You must like not being micro-managed." or "I have no idea how a person makes a living in music, could you tell me how you do it?" or "Who books your gigs?" - real questions that are actually asking something rather than stating a thoughtless assumption.
Ultimately you begin to wonder if thoughtless statements, questions or such are just airing grievances by people who resent not having the courage to follow through on their own interests or dreams. Then again such people wouldn't have the depth to have a desire for self-actualization in the first place.
It's not that I'm offended per se by these things but that I am utterly bored by this kind of palaver. It is completely different when a person is sincerely interested and it's not hard to tell. Some people think being a musicians as an adorable attempt to pretend having a job and we'd like them to pat us on the head like a nice doggy, after which I usually pee on their foot.
Were I to talk to "office workers" about how little they work because they are busy emailing cat videos and gossiping at the water cooler, surely I would be dismissed outright (I'd still be right). I could conjecture how they live for a pension they're never going to see, have no soul, work after hours to cheat on the spouse, steal office supplies, sit on their ass all day long, et al. but it's not important to become like that. Just let people be clueless.