How to Know You've Outgrown Your Band
Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.
Fan, I just got my degree in Secondary English Education. I'm just substitute teaching right now getting more experience before I jump into teaching full time. I am also an avid drummer and I am in a band here in Kansas. My band has been together for about a year and a half. It used to be fun playing with the guys, but now I have lost my passion. I still like playing drums, but not on the demanding schedule that we are on: practicing everyday, over analyzing our live shows, trying to expand our sound and communicate better as band. The main issue I have and the main reason I am writing is because I used to think I did have the drive to become a drummer in a band that eventually makes it. Yet, now that I have a degree in a field I actually enjoy, I think my priorities have shifted. A part of me feels like I am selling out, but another part of me feels like I am doing the logical thing. I will always play drums, but I just don't want to be in a band where I'm not having fun anymore ... and I'm definitely not having fun anymore. I don't know what to do. Should I tell the guys I've decided to become a teacher and just back out now or do I keep drumming with the guys, hoping we get past our hurdles and I find joy in playing with them again? I just need some advice. Sincerely, Sean
Dear Sincere Sean, Congratulations on your degree and finding a profession that can also be your passion; being able to synthesize the two is rare--for most people a job is often just a job. Doing what you love is life's joy--you are certainly not selling out. Teaching high school English is not commonly considered a sell out career; having a suit and tie situation doesn't make it one either. Even if you want to stop being in a band because it's impractical doesn't make you a sell out. It makes you a mature person who knows what they want to do with their life--so save that guilt for some gross secret hobby you have.
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You know what you want to do, so do it. Quit. Let them go on their way and find someone who has a commitment to making it matches theirs. PLUS! Who wants to be in a band that practices every day, anyhow? I mean, I know sometimes there is not a lot to do in Kansas, but unless you guys are practicing to go into the studio or for a tour, rigorous daily practice is myopic and takes away from the living of regular life. People who are that obsessed with their band are the worst company--because what else are they going to talk about?!
I have the firm belief that we only have a finite amount of creative energy, creative attention. You want--and need--to put it into your life as a teacher. Finding some little side project to do weekend drums in is not going to be hard; also, every high school I went to there was always some goofball Science teacher-fronted faculty band with a punny-terrible name; surely you can find one in your rounds as a sub. Best, Fan
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