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.

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.

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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.

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